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Day 18

You can be too stripped of pain, I know.

Things can be too tidy, too clean. Mostly it feels safe; sometimes it feels suffocating.

"Marry, and you will regret it; don’t marry, you will also regret it; marry or don’t marry, you will regret it either way… Hang yourself, you will regret it; do not hang yourself, and you will regret that too; hang yourself or don’t hang yourself, you’ll regret it either way; whether you hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both.”

Kierkegaard wrote that. But he also wrote this:

"What joy when the day begins to break and the bird wakes early to the joy of the day ahead; what joy-- albeit in another tonality-- when evening draws near and the bird joyfully hurries home to his nest; and what joy in the long summer days...and so it is, the bird's whole life through. He always and everywhere finds something, or rather, enough, to make him joyful."

Kierkegaard's joy is the joy of nature: true joy, he claims, because it's stripped of conditions. What reason has the bird to be joyful? None at all, and yet, piercing through the heavy materiality of a world too gray: an immaterial bird-song, sudden as a streak of color across a rain-soaked sky.

The day rose rain-soaked again, and I, with a headache and sore throat. Baby began the day with screaming, as she often does. But we took her to church, and she became suddenly angelic, happy, giggly, sweet. Like a demon-sick human healed by a word, she became "whole," herself. It was shocking and strange, as I don't remember the last time she was so happy, and her new demeanor persisted all day.

If it's difficult to believe she was made whole by some supernatural presence at a church, then remember that you too, swim in worlds of symbol, and we all think mythologically. It's simply a matter of training mythology along the path of truth.

In the case of my daughter, I am content to enjoy her happy giggles and allegorize. Religion is full of labyrinthine stories of sin and salvation, paradoxes and perplexities. But it all boils down to this: birds have God caught in their throats (the joy-drunken wine), and everyone else is possessed by something other than God, is possessed by death.


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