A few months ago my dear friend and I were writing a song we called ‘some other child.’ The song was a prayer about birthing a being that is not a ‘child’ in the traditional sense of the word. Neither of us have flesh-and-blood biological offspring. It was interesting writing the song because the concept of giving birth from death or rot or darkness is so far outside our culture’s idea of normal that it only lives in the realm of ‘horror’ films. To me, this exposes the monotheism of how things are brought into the world. This monotheism is more dangerous than the homogenizing industry bringing cheap goods from China to your neighborhood Walmart…because this one resides within you.
This time of year, I am amazed at how the Christian narrative of “unto us a child is born” can collapse the notion of how holy imagination enters the world. It can turn into a homogenizing route itself. The narrative seems to say that the divine entered the world ‘one’ time and ‘one’ way. I’m not trying to say that being actualized in a specific way denies authenticity or source... I just think that declaring a specific actualization as the only-right-way is fundamentalism (the worst of ‘f’ words.)
When I was in college I wrote a song about the ‘last prophetic bird’ that came to talk to the world. It got stuffed and put into a museum. It was killed and stuffed because its novelty was turned into an idol. It was not allowed to be a holy icon or example of how beauty shows up. It was a silly song addressing all the ways the holy might show up and be ignored… or ways the holy shows up and we cannot see. But, that prophetic bird still talks to me.
I think of the poet Octavia Paz who said something like “I don’t see with my eyes…words are me eyes.” The holy doesn’t just show up, it is spoken and imagined into place…and not from the victory of heroes, but from all that was deemed unusable and of no-merit…essentially what we call ‘dead’ in this culture.
As we leave the space of solstice, may we not simply think that the ‘new’ light comes to us from nothing. May we not simply think of the clean, sweet-smelling child in freshly-fluffed hay. This fantasy scene never existed, and the holy actualization doesn’t need to be turned into such pornography. It would be far more helpful to think of the babies on oxygen and life-support in Neonatal intensive care units. Think of the ones who are there, because their mothers had no idea how to care for themselves during pregnancy. May all the rejection and abandonment those mothers carry…all that is dead and rotten in their lives, be transformed into an angels of creative imagination. Angels that allow seeing new ways of being in the world…like a holy mirror.
But this is all fed from looking at the bruised and mangled parts of ourselves. My prayer is that before we ‘begin again,’ we can weep, and know that our weeping is the only rain that will water those seeds. They are not fed by water from nowhere. This water has a source.
Here is a poem by Deena Metzger:
I want what is left:
The tea leaves, the soiled images on cards,
The gasp of words as meaning slips away,
The rinds of the alphabet,
The chewed poems of prisoners,
The bones and the skeletons,
The secretions, the shattered sperm,
The blind blood, the phlegm and the cough.
It has always been women's work to prepare the corpse.
But, I will not make a corpse from these elements,
I will make a child.
I will make you such a rose of a child,
A rose of a child held in the crook
Of the dark hand of a dead branch,
I will make you a child shining
Like an angel from these elements of dark,
And the child will sing.
This is what we have
This is what we have to work with.
So give them to me,
First your dead, moldering
In the dreadful heat of your deserted cities,
Then give me the iron birds in the sky,
With their demented warbling,
Last, I want your radiant soul
With its eternal shimmer.
Give me everything mangled and bruised,
And I will make a light of it to make you weep,
And we will have rain,
And begin again.