Dirt is not cold, soil is not lonely

8 July, 2010

lillies (ungilded)

I’m about as culturally relative as a person and anthropologist can be- including and up to the fact that I don’t think ‘cultural relativism’ is even possible, but remains a noble goal…

Dim chapel, dark wood pews and ceiling beams, white casket, red carnations and dusty plants, ancient linoleum softening the click of black heels.
God is called down and I am invited for the third time in five minutes to be with Jesus. My uncle is not gone, I am told, not in the cold lonely dirt, but dancing in heaven. I can almost see a light shining down from this place, illuminating all of the chosen in the room. I wonder if the pastor, who seems to be addressing too much of this towards my sister, can see the lack of spotlight on us. I think I see pity in his eyes.
I sit taller, pushing my sore back into the unbending wood behind me, the twinge a penance, a corporeal ache-
I’ve always preferred an open casket. I know I’m not in the majority here, but it helps me grieve, to see the body devoid of it’s life, to touch the waxy hands that used to hold me and to say goodbye to the body now kept pink with special lamps.
My mother believed in heaven, the same heaven it seems my uncle Gordon is now. And I truly hope, if not believe, that they are whole- all peace, hope and continuity.

But- but the dirt is not cold, the soil is not lonely and the man that I am supposed to meet in some ungrounded permanent heaven- does he know that when I am happiest I am walking in the green, feet on the ground, senses drinking in the beauty that is around me, that is not gendered or hierarchal but temporal and fleeting-
But where do I put my mom and Gordon? Why does their heaven demand the rejection of my own? I don’t want my family to read this, to feel the need to explain or defend, but I wonder.
If I don’t have this magical Christian pool of light around me, how it is I can see the theirs, the various and the synchronic, the interweavings of dusty logic and heretical traditions, threaded with nearly identical comforts in ritual, in memory, in the here, the now, the tangible and the temporary.

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2 Responses to “Dirt is not cold, soil is not lonely”

  1. harlequin Says:

    “She is Witch and I am Coyote,
    its the difference of doing magic and being earth.”

    Which is not cold.

    The reflection of the Christian heaven shines in the pools of your minds eye: seeing the road others travel acknowledges its power and existence,
    knowing which one your feet feel when they tread along the vibrant thick green earth acknowledges yours.

    with deep admiration
    &
    my love

  2. Mwa Says:

    Beautiful post.

    We don’t tend to have open caskets, so I’ve never seen a dead person. I can imagine it helps, because the variation here is “leave at the cemetery” vs “see the coffin lowered and throw sand” and I prefer the latter – it helps to complete the process.


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