The minister stared his sermon by quoting Duke Ellington’s Autobiography, in which Ellington compares the prophets to Jazz musicians. Both parties lost in transcendence while communicating with the divine. I instantly thought of Coltrane and the hours I spent listening to A Love Supreme over and over again. First time through as an ensemble then to how the bass and drums interacted with each other, then to the Sax and piano, then the bass and piano, then just the sax part. This would continue until I had heard each combo or solo until it was time to eat, or practice or at long last sleep.
The minister continued on, following his own lead but some how in sync with mine.
This isn’t a small church, but the pews are not full on Christmas Eve. I’m here because Signe is here, along with a few of our friends, and a couple of their friends. If we were in Seattle, instead of Portland, we would still be at church, but with her Mom, who is also a UCC minister. I attend church, once at Christmas and again at Easter as a show of respect. Though showing up on those two days means I attend church as often as most self professed
Christians. I haven’t entered church as a member of the faithful in years.
After that I start writing. The ideas are coming quickly and I try d disparately to hang on to them without pulling out a notebook and writing. I need to be alone for ideas to spring up, to be able to grab them and utilize them. There are times when I can feel alone in a room full of people. I know this doesn’t make me different from most writers.
In the time that passes I will compare my rides, or rather my riding and training to the quest of the faithful: Salvation. I am not a faithful person. I do not belong to the group of people who get up in small groups to take communion. And for a moment I am the only person not breaking bread at the front of the church, but we are looking for the same thing.
Two weeks ago my therapist is pushing me on this idea. The notion that I can save myself through all this riding and lifting and writing. He is skeptical because he sees my life through a lens I wish I could see it through. He has reason to believe that. In the last six months of sessions he has seen very little progress into the areas of my life that matter.
” I already know you’re good at training, but I don’t believe you’re getting better at the things that matter”
He’s right, and it almost drives me to tears.
I heard once that the ability to question is the essence of faith. I hope that’s true because I’m questioning if I’m taking the right approach, or if my failures are really just a matter of me not trying hard enough. Which is what the faithful think when they don’t e experiences god’s grace.
They have a faith community, but I feel alone in my quest.
I know others have done it. Saved themselves. I read books about it. Everyday I log onto a private web site I can’t afford — because of a gift I don’t deserve — and see people fighting their demons. Sometimes failing, but always failing upwards. I just feel like I am failing.
Failing not only to better my life, but to even grab a small piece of the t transcendence I hear in the voices of those singing around me. The transcendence Trane found as he built a wall of sound off the ostinato
ba da da dum, ba da da dum, ba da da dum.
Or the t transcendence that comes when one is bent over the handle bars, lost in act of pushing the bike forward one pedal stroke at a time.
But I haven’t been riding that much.