The crux of morality is to do nothing that dims the flame of your life. Sometimes I am surprised by the vitality of this flame.
Yesterday I worked in the library all day, editing my book. When I walked to Sophie's daycare to breastfeed her, I remembered how gray this city stands in winter. The government buildings (even when beautiful) were nevertheless built in graying stone bones. Without their leaves, the trees appeared abandoned by their own fruitfulness- barren now, and alone. Then there are the homeless who pass as if from another world, a world of nothing to do and no-one to see and simply walking, walking, walking. But like a trill of color through the gray, God was everywhere- crawling into the flashes of autumn orange on fallen leaves, moving easily through my lungs with the feeling of health, the flutter of excitement that I was going to see my baby after a few hours apart.
I don't like talking about God with strangers. Besides, why bet our lives on something we can't even see? But lately I have noticed that nothing but "God" is quite so inspiring. Maybe God is an old man or a black woman in the sky, but I don't care about the details. What I do care about is the sensation of God, because this sensation is the root of ritual and morality. No religion can claim monopoly on it, and yet it haunts even the secularists in rare moments of transcendence (though less and less, as society produces less transcendence). You can personalize it (perhaps essential for communion) but I will call it God: that which makes humans fully alive.
Back in the library, I ripped off small handfuls of whole grain bread to sneak into my mouth when security was looking away, concerned with more pressing infractions like the homeless man with the DiGiorno pizza box beneath his arm, accidentally walking through the emergency exit. It seemed that it was, in fact, an accident, but security confronted him, and they commenced a yelling match. In this massively modern accomplishment of a library, the patrons are mostly homeless, and there is practically an army of security to match them (wearing guns and bullet proof vests). I am not naive, and know that the majority of the homeless in this city are drug addicts, and some are mentally ill. I understand that the possibility of chaos must be contained. But sometimes these homeless seem like disposables, like nuisances better swept out of sight.
How are we to live compassionately? I hope the question always haunts me, and the answers come through action.