“You’re not like born again or anything, are you?” she asked me earnestly.
I thought for a moment. “Well, not really. It’s just beautiful, don’t you think?”
“I think it’s–I don’t know, it scares me,” she said gently, moving her knees slightly back and forth in the bathwater, the ripples sending the soapy water highup the sides of the thin plastic tub. She sat up, her breasts hanging drenched and heavy on her chest. “That kind of language,” she continued softly, “always makes me think that maybe in another lifetime I was burned at the stake.” She splashed her face with water. “That stuff gives me the creeps.
“…Talking about God just seems so pointless.” There was a pause as she figured out what she meant. “It’s like drilling a well right by a river, you know? The water’s already there; you don’t have to dig for it. Whatever is good or valuable about religion is always around us. You don’t have to go to church for it. To be honest, churches give me the willies. Whenever I go inside one, I feel like the whole place is pleading to some outside force, you know? Like God or whatever is outside of us, withholding the goods. I don’t really buy that idea–that someone up on a hill is doling out favors, but only if we ask in a really really nice way. I don’t buy it, do you?”
…Amazing, I thought, how instantly I could feel I didn’t know Christy at all, and how little I felt she knew me.
There is this place deep inside where I feel I am connected to everything, not just trees and grass and dogs but buildings and stairways, rocks and sidewalks. It’s a deathly quiet place that I guess I’ve never shared with anyone and probably couldn’t, a place that is cold sober when my body is stumbling drunk, another consciousness that sits still like an antenna in tune with some other part of the galaxy. It was this part of me that I wanted to bring to our wedding, a centered space from which I could send out my oaths. I imagined that this secret antenna was my connection to whatever eternity might be and was the part of me that Christy alone perceived and loved. But in the dark of the motel room, I realized that whether I was married or not, no one would ever know all of me; my truest self would always be estranged and alone. I was incapable of expressing my limited screwball faith and I knew that, even if I could, I’d box it in so dramatically it would be trivialized.
–from Ethan Hawke’s Ash Wednesday
…originally posted on danielsjourney/blog, August 6th, 2003. I decided to read stuff from my time in Sarajevo tonight, and it turns out I have a lot of stuff from that time, and it’s turned into an afternoon-long project, and I’ve almost compiled a chapbook’s worth. This bit, not being my own, does not go into the book, but as a passage of text, so perfectly relates to so much of my life.