Kyrie Eleison

There are days when that’s all I got – lord, have mercy. That phrase has always been a part of my vernacular, and where I come from people use it almost as punctuation. It’s a frequent exclamation, spontaneously uttered when one hears something shocking, in lieu of “oh, my God” or “that’s awful”. I can’t say the words are entirely empty, but at this point they are more reflex for me than anything else.

Somewhere on this planet, someone is deciding there is no hope, there is no place for them, and they are folding their tent permanently. Somewhere there is someone who is celebrating the best day of their life, with friends and family gathered around and libations flowing abundantly. Each moment is a multiverse. There are infinite amounts of events and incidents and even accidents happening simultaneously yet independently. I will never know where else in the world it’s raining at this moment.

The planet is breathing, inhaling and exhaling. Breathing in all the toxicity and horrible energy each of our multitudes of cells transact each second. Breathing out all of the abundance contained on this blue marble. Each breath millions of births and deaths, incalculable numbers of organic functions. The amount of energy transacted is incomprehensible, but the scale is reduced in discrete amounts until there is enough for a single monocellular organism to mimic the cycle.

Human beings generally cannot grasp how small and fragile we are. We can be ended by a microorganism we can’t even see, and we cannot re-create organic life after the body has ended. No one of us can create life, no matter what we believe. There is progress with animal clones, but that is mimicry of a once or currently living organism. Some of us may believe we have the power to determine the duration or cessation of life, but I truly do not believe that is true. The spirit decides, on some other non-physical level.

It is generally frightening to believe that we have no choice in the manner of our deaths, but perhaps the choice is all ours. There is a connection between some intangible part of us and the physical reality that we carry. It’s not anything comprehensible to our organic senses, and we cannot explain the workings of our minds. We can map the physical brain, and determine neurological functioning, even repair it when it has become injured or diseased. But is that where the spirit resides? Is that where faith lives? Is that where love can be found?

Neurologists and neuropsychologists have been able to show connnections between parts of the brain and behaviors. They have been able to discern that when certain parts of the brain do not develop properly things like executive functioning and impulse control are compromised or absent. They have studied the brains of serial killers and psychopaths to correlate the propensity for certain behaviors with certain aberrations of the physical brain, but there remain exceptions.

These scientific explanations for serial killers, psychopaths, sociopaths and so on ultimately explains only behavior. I would question whether or not the spirit remains intact when these aberrations are present. From what I understand about these types of people, they understand the difference between right and wrong, but choose actions that are harmful to others very consciously, and often without conscience. They are seemingly compelled to act in this fashion, which triggers me to relate those compulsions to addiction. Once again, i would question whether or not there is a choice that remains.

The spirit can become ill, just like the body. There’s a symbiotic relationship between spirit and body, and the ailing spirit can bring dis-ease to a body. There have been times in my life when I have not been in contact with my spirit. Those were the times when I lived in reactionary mode, with no time for reflection or consideration of stimulus offered. Act first, think later. It was as if the reaction was a very short short that sparked and died within the blink of an eye. There were no solutions, only decisions, and each decision had a 50-50 shot of being successful because external forces were ultimately in control.

Living in that mode of operations was exhausting. There was a lot of stress, a lot of hypervigilance, a lot of running in place. I felt out of control, powerless, and I was always angry because I felt so powerless. The entire world was beating up on me and nobody seemed to notice. Feeling very small every day, and even smaller at night. There was a dank aloneness that felt like being in a dungeon, where the walls bled water but I could not drink. Those days were the ones where I wanted to die, but did not have the courage to take the necessary action. Every night I prayed, literally prayed – to what I don’t know – to die. And every morning when I found myself awake, I was furious. If that is what prayer got me, I wanted none of it. But every day, the cycle repeated like clockwork.

A lot of that feeling has passed, I am happy to say. It wasn’t entirely depression driving that cycle, it was having no spiritual connection and drinking to compensate for it. I felt empty and was attempting to pour enough alcohol into the container to fill it. That was my solution back then. It’s not my solution now.

A part of what changed is the reconnection with my spirit. That is where the dreams live, that is where the heart lives, that is where music and writing and beauty and appreciation live. I have no other way to explain it. The circuit that goes from stimulus to response feels a lot longer, and sometimes I unplug it to contemplate how I want it to connect. Of course, this does not mean that all difficulty has been eradicated and I got everything I wanted. Not by a long shot. But I can say that I have what I need, and don’t feel as though I have to be ten steps ahead of everything and planning for a disaster every day.

So, I don’t think of things I love, joy, and my spirit being in the same place as my intellect, or my conscious brain, and I suppose that’s a good thing. Knowing me, I would probably start believing that I could improve on that construction and ruin all of it so quickly it would make my head spin until it rotated off my shoulders. Let’s have none of that. There’s enough craziness in the world right now.

I will never understand how all of this works. All I know is that when I am left to my own devices, with no connection to others and no real connection to my deepest self, I don’t fare very well. My brain takes control and begins to tell me scary stories that cause panic and irrational behavior. That’s when there’s no light and the darkness seems impenetrable and the wind is blowing and there’s no sound except my heart beating. I don’t like that place.

When I am tending to my spirit, that looks like finding beauty. That looks like gratitude. And it looks like being responsible, doing the next right things, being accountable. My spirit has to be healthy in order for me to move my feet. It’s obviously not a physical connection, but the part of me that says get up when I’m down, the part that says don’t give up, the part that says pick up the phone and call somebody…that’s what I feel is the spirit rising up to fill in the empty spaces.

When I think about people who have no conscience about harming other people, I cannot help but feel a welling of gratitude that I didn’t go down that path. I believe there was a time when I could have, when I thought the world owed me something, when I couldn’t make anything that I wanted happen, when I confused success with worth. I have always had a conscience, but there were times when it was not difficult to bypass it or ignore it. I felt as though I was crazy enough to be a mean and harmful person, but something always stopped me at the edge of never. For that, I am grateful. I have always know there are some things I might be capable of doing, but could not live with myself for having done them. Spending my entire life running away inside my own head is not what I envision as happiness.

My original question remains, though – is there still choice at the moment of taking action that ends another life. I would imagine, judging from my own experience, that if the spirit is asleep the choice is not evident. It’s just an empty spot and the brain, with all of its rationalizations and dysfunctions, takes over. It doesn’t so much make choices as it acts on compulsions, which at that point are simply chemical reactions. There’s nothing to argue about or contemplate, it’s an impulse and then action. That circuit is only a nano-second long, but that spark is a the beginning of an inferno that can’t be satisfied rationally.

I know that I have choice, and that with choice responsibility follows. That’s the way it goes. About that, I don’t have choice, it’s above my pay grade. But for everything that’s in my job description, I am clear that I have choice. Because I am clear about that, my choice is to keep getting up. I will keep getting up, and I will be responsible. I choose to be well, and I choose to be at peace.

Lord, have mercy. Your daughter is lost and alone out in the wilderness, and her spirit is weary. Lord, have mercy, whatever the Lord is and whatever mercy is. Give me the grace to be forgiven, and the courage to begin again. The prodigal daughter is home, but she does not recognize herself and does not know how to go on. Kyrie elieson. Say hello to my mother for me, and wish my father a happy birthday. I always remember his birthday because it’s Flag Day.

Free at last. Welcome home.

Published by annzimmerman

I am Louisiana born and bred, now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Fortunately for me, I was already living in NC before Hurricane Katrina decimated my beloved New Orleans. An only child, I now feel that I have no personal history since the hurricane destroyed the relics and artifacts of my childhood. As I have always heard, c'est la vie. My Louisiana roots show in my love of good coffee, good food, and good music. My soggy native soil has also shown me that resilience is hard-wired in my consciousness; when the chips are down (or drowned)...bring it on.

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