[ Norwegian skyline, October, 2015]
So here’s the question I’m kicking around lately: Since, like many, my sense of the Divine is internal (“That small still voice,” “The Inner Teacher,” etc.) when I actually experience—and am filled by— an inward, physical sense of God/Spirit/Light/Love, is this because I am predisposed to imagine a religious experience as something that happens within me? Or did I just imagine it? Or am I simply talking about That Which is Inexplicable using a construct about inwardness that may be useful but, c’mon! We’re talking about The Inexplicable, right?
Okay, here’s what happened: I’d returned home from a magical (though wet) trip to Norway and found my re-entry unsettling. Literally. I had the non-stop, disconcerting sense that my body was gently rocking back and forth as if still on a ship. (It’s called “Disembarkment Syndrome” in case you’re interested) And, frankly, after being in a clean and progressive country that does not share my Home Sweet Home’s appalling record of, say, mass incarcerations or our insane policies re assault weapons, I wasn’t feeling all warm and fuzzy about being back. Heck, no!
But on Saturday, a superbly gorgeous day, despite my wobbliness and general sense of hopelessness, I nevertheless joined hundreds of others to dance and cheer and connect at Honk!, a yearly, Somerville street festival featuring brass bands from around the world who believe in and who support activist causes—and also in dressing up as outrageously as possible, too!
Ahhh. No, I’m not claiming that Honk! cured my Disembarkment Syndrome. I’m still a little wobbly. But as far as my conviction—and my hope—are concerned, I can declare that I’m once again on solid ground. Because, I sweah* that I physically felt Something slide into my soul at Honk. Especially during the opening ceremony—and hearing that precious word, justice, again and again. And hearing members of the Original Big Seven Social Aid and Pleasure Club, an amazing band from New Orleans, talk about their losses during Hurricane Katrina yet still able to celebrate and to praise. Or just hearing “Oh, you can’t scare me I’m sticking to the union” sung by Madison, Wisconsin’s Forward! Marching Band. A “God-shaped hole” ** within me was filled as though I actually felt that missing piece slide into place in my abdomen. I sweah!
Weird, huh. Yes. And what a gift—wherever it came from.
* (It’s really hard to convey a Boston accent!)
** See my post from July 13, 2010: “I Wrote a Book About It!”