Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Child Within

"Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

--Matthew 16:17-18

If I never hear the phrase "wind chill factor" again for the rest of my life, I won't complain a bit.

It's cold here in Brooklyn as I type these words, cold as a bastard.

And with memories of Hawaii stilling in my head and the remnants of my suntan still clinging to my skin, the nose-diving temperatures are even more depressing.

But I'm thankful the oil burner is working now, after the thing tanked on me last week.

Although this is a three-day weekend, I barely left the house, aside from a book reading and wine-tasting on Friday and the Brooklyn Blogade get-together this morning, which, by the way, was a lot of fun.

I enjoyed great people, good food, and the introduction of yet another Brooklyn neighborhood--Clinton Hill--that I knew little or nothing about. This group is sure making me get around.

Aside from Blogade it looks like the most exciting event of the weekend will be cleaning out the refrigerator, which I did this afternoon.

I know that doesn't sound especially thrilling, but if you ever had a chance to see the condition of my refrigerator over the last 10 to 12 months you might change your mind.

There was stuff in there from a year ago when my father died, including several cans of Suscatel, a supplement we were giving him when started to lose weight.

It would be a shame to throw that stuff out, as I believe it is still good, but I don't think anyone would want someone else's food--even it does come in a can.

Tonight I opened the refrigerator and I'm so used to shaking my head and saying, "man, I got to clean this thing," that I said it again, even though the thing was squeaky clean.

In other big news, I had something of an impromptu Jennifer Lopez film festival this weekend, courtesy of Netflix.

My original plan was to get out of the house and do things, meet people, to make good on one my New Year's goals and socialize more.

The cold has taken a lot of out of me, though, and I'm going to postpone that New Year's goal for just a little while longer. So it was just me and the DVD player for a large part of the weekend.

I had clicked two movies that I had wanted to see and realized when they arrived that both starred J. Lo, or Jenny from the Block, or whatever the hell she's calling herself these days.

I've never been a huge fan, but it was too late to change my choices. I could tell people I spent the weekend with Jennifer Lopez and roll my eyes in a lascivious manner, though that might be bad for my eyes.

The films--"Angel Eyes"--speaking of eyes--and "The Cell" weren't bad. "The Cell," in particular, was visually stunning, but narratively deprived.

The movie served up one stunning image after another and they were all hooked up to such a lame "rescue the girl" plot it looked as if someone said late in the production screamed, "Oh, Christ, we forgot to write a script!"

The film also starred Vincent D'Onofrio, who's also been turning up in a lot of my Netflix choices lately.

He's the killer in this flick and J. Lo enters his twisted mind in attempt to save his latest victim before she drowns in a highly elaborate trap that only killers in movies create.

Dream A Little Dream

While romping around the psycho's psyche, Lopez meets the child version of the killer , a innocent kid who hasn't hurt anyone. It got me thinking of my hypnotherapy session, where I met a youthful version of myself, only I'm not a serial killer...honest.

And I think of John Lennon's song "Woman," with the line about understanding "the little child inside of the man." I was dating someone when the "Double Fantasy" album came out and "Woman" was our song.

I attended mass the other week at Trinity Church and the priest said during his sermon that "God sometimes speaks to the child inside you," so there seems to be a theme going on here.

We try to tell ourselves to grow up, to be adults to act our age(s), but there's a part of us that will always be a child, will always crave love and understanding.

I enjoy the services at Trinity, even though as a Roman Catholic I feel a little guilty for being there.

I found out on Friday that my favorite priest there, the one who speaks about the child inside us, is a former Catholic himself. Apparently he made the transition without being struck by a bolt of lightning.

He always quotes a poem during his sermons and then hands out copies at the end of the service. That never happened in all my years of going to Catholic masses.

And he always welcomes everyone to Trinity, regulars, first-timers, even the tourists wandering up and down the aisles, no matter who you are, he says, "everyone is welcome at God's table."

On Friday, he read from Matthew, where Jesus tells Peter that he will build his church "upon this rock."

"You are also the rock," the priest told us. "God wants to build his church upon you, also, so the gates of hell shall not prevail."

It's strange being back in church after all these years and this talk of hell makes me think of my grammar school days and those psychotic nun's who were even crazier than Vincent D'Onofrio's character in "The Cell."

I enjoy the services now that there are no nuns hanging over my shoulder ready to box my ears and condemn my soul. I'm even singing the hymns, even though I don't know them and my voice is you say?...bad?

Talk of hell usually makes me angry, as many alleged religious "leaders" use images of devils and flames and eternal damnation as an excuse to terrorize people.

I enjoy saying the Rosary and one of the prayers--"Oh, My Jesus"--contains the line "save us from the fires of hell."

I didn't like that prayer at first because of this medieval concept, but I've come to believe that hell can have other meanings beyond the traditional land of endless torment.

Surely when we abuse ourselves with anger and hatred, that's a kind of hell--far more potent and terrifying than any cartoon world of fire and pitchforks. We create hell every time we lose our tempers and lash out at each other.

I've dedicated this year to freeing myself from that particular hell and I'm realizing that it's going to be a hell of job.

All these years of walking around angry and frustrated makes it difficult to change; it calls to mind that old analogy about a battleship changing direction. It can be done, but it's going to take a while.

Now with this freezing weather, I'm not so frightened of hell as I used to be.

Somebody please take me back to Hawaii. I've finally cleaned my refrigerator and I think deserve a reward.

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