Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Violence of Excess

The wedding nearly undid all of us. Too many details. Too much stuff. As the hour approached the management of stuff got in the way of the flow of Spirit as energies and time became more and more involved with where to put food, what to do with gifts, where to seat guests, what to do with the plans for an outdoor ceremony. The skies opened up with hailstones and horizontal rain, booming thunder and heaven to earth lightening bolts right at the time the bride should have been walking down a makeshift aisle in the middle of a mountain meadow. Gowns, shoes, flowers, hotel reservations (subsequently not used but requiring payment anyway), rented arbor, tents, chairs (also unused due to the storm), and OH, the left-overs! Food fatigue took its toll and so much was simply discarded as guests departed the three-day event carrying as much as could be pressed upon them. A sacred time devolved into the management of stuff that filled the space available. A violent violation of Spirit – a trespass upon the soul of a sacred moment.

On arriving back home, I soothed myself and found some “course correction” with some thoughts from The Sabbath by Abraham Heschel: “Most of us seem to labor for the sake of things of space. As a result, we suffer from a deeply rooted dread of time and stand aghast when compelled to look into its face. Time to us is a sarcasm, a slick treacherous monster with a jaw like a furnace incinerating every moment of our lives. Shrinking, therefore, from facing time, we escape for shelter to the things of space. The intentions we are unable to carry out we deposit in things of space; possessions become symbols of our repressions, jubilees of frustrations. But things of space are not fireproof; they only add fuel to the flames. The higher goal of spiritual living is not to amass a wealth of information, but to face sacred moments.”

A full week post event, I am still reeling with the excess of it all and how it strained relationships and took precedence over what should have been a sacred and joyous celebration of the inauguration of a new family. It seems to me now that the embrace of excess, in whatever form it takes, is a violence against the soul. It creates anxiety where joy should live. It creates sorrow when it fails to bring desired results. It crowds out the possibility of the mystical in favor of the concrete.

Curiously, when the event was least under control during a storm of epic proportions, the chaos of excess began to come into order as the cosmos itself dictated a simplification of all things. The wedding venue shifted to a spacious living room. The guests shifted the furniture out of the way. We all stood around the bride and groom and gasped as a perfect rainbow formed over the distant mountains, gently demanding our attention to the sacred moment at hand. The Holy that resides in Time had the last word.

Vicki Hanjian

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