Fortnum and Mason was founded just after 1700 and is one of my favorite ships in London. One of my great loves is stationary, and they have a fine selection. They also have demerara sugar which I like in my tea. And marzipan. And a good english cream tea. And a few other things which make for good shopping therapy on a fall day when one is in the blues.
One day walking in London I came across a fine advertisement window of Fortnum and Mason’s and so I snapped a picture wondering if it might one day be of use.
We all have those times in our lives when we get what my mother used to call “the blues.” Many will anesthetize with alcohol and though my parents did, I seem to have been spared that particular addiction. I tend towards buttered things when I am sad and now that taste is gone even that leaves me a bit flat. A snuggle with Kai works. Prayer helps if it is wordless meditation, but when I am sad I do not want to talk to God, given God’s inevitable implication of guilt when terrible things happen. And though I do not need God to talk to me and nor do I want to talk to God when terrible things happen to me; I still want God nearby. Over there. Next to that lamp, near the door, where God is too far away to be a chatty -cathy but not so far away that I do not feel The Gaze.
The Gaze interests me. Much is made in our scriptures of the eye of God and many other religions, especially the ancient Egyptian ones, focus on the eye as a primary religious symbol. I have seen many churches with The Eye of God in windows and my own priestly-presenting church in Richmond, Saint James’ features the Eye of God as central to their architecture. God sees. God looks. God watches. The masons like the Eye of God too.
What little I know of psychology tells me that we have these four persons inside us all the time. Eight sets of eyes. The child (0-7 years old), the kid (7-11 years old), the adolescent (11-18 years old) and the adult who, in a healthy psyche, convenes the conversations. Most days. and then there are the days in our psyches when things seem more like a raucous day in a classroom with a weak substitute teacher – all manner of things flying through the air – a barrage of spit balls.
At different times of each day, our different inside-our-heads-children are watching life intently, and have things to say, and are screaming to be seen. And when we are hurt, especially by someone we thought loved us, those kids get rowdy inside us, throwing chairs and breaking glass. And sometimes our inner adult wants them to be quiet and pours a martini hoping the voices will quiet but they do not. Instead they just get mean.
The Eye of God has, for centuries, been an image of domination from a male God; but if the Eye of God were feminine, I wonder what that would change. A lot for me.
What if God’s eye were kind, compassionate, gentle and understanding? When we are in that searing pain through which all lives go from time to time (making it hard to write blogs…) what would it be like to sit down, wrap one’s self in a blanket and take ones’ eyes off the pain for a moment and search for the Eye of God? What would it be like to feel it and more, to find that it is kind…that the Eye sees our pain and can connect to it with compassion (com=with, passion = real feelings).
I suppose many think clergy and Bishops should always see stoic, above feelings and emotions, elegantly holy and supper-spiritual, hiding their real feelings in cloistered internal hallways. I disagree. I think that does not help and I also think real people don’t buy it for a second and feel lied to when it is tried on them.
So here I sit in some deep pain – the loss of an imaginary friendship and the loss of a project I loved. But our pain helps us to see the truth at times and that too can be transforming. I am not big on chatting with God right now except on behalf of parishioners, but I am very big on God being close in silence – which is one of God’s really great tricks. God is good at watching with loving-kindness.
I used to project onto God my own anger and so, that is what I got back when I went to God. But now, I am old, and tired and a bit sad for the time being. With some long walks in the woods, I’ll get over it. And God will be behind me, and before me, and beneath me and above me. And I will heal. We all do. Well, most of us.
Perhaps I’ll not see God’s eye as I walk and heal. But I will hear, faintly, another nearby crunching of leaves. Not far. Watching. And so all manner of thing will be well. Strange. Even occasionally horrific. But well, in the way God makes things well. In the big picture. Seen by the big eye. And God will send me the right people to care for me. Never early, but never late either.
And of course, a martini when one is a bit blue (just one and with friends) is never off the table as an option.