were our lives to depend on it

From an eight by eight slab of concrete peering off in the distance, shaded from the sun by a massive residential housing development, my eyes afix on a small island of trees. Inhale. Long exhale. I focus on the individual leaves softly glimmering, turning in the wind; a momentary flight from self, from my surroundings. Sensory perception interrupts without permission: menacing noises of an angry lawn mower, audible and aromatic turbulance from 4 lanes of speeding traffic, the incessant on-off and on again cycle of air conditioning units intermittently drowning everything within ear shot. Eyes move right. A pack of small birds sits perched high atop an endless entanglement of a thousand wires, one of them serving a tv somewhere within an open but unseen window nearby. The dialogue of a daytime talk program joins the chorus of noise. Back to those trees--or wait are they telephone poles? A tiny island of natural preserved amid an empty, abandoned concrete ocean; cracks in its floor now giving way to knee high tufts of wild weed groaning for room to grow. I suppose this abandoned oasis must once have been intended for resting cars but it hasn't had a visitor in years. The booming days of industry gone, the lonely lot now serves as home to a group of green steel dumpsters huddled together like silent, unmoving animals in the corner. My eyes pretend for the moment that they are rocks covered in a thick green moss; a landing pad to the gulls, a nightcap for the coons. But my imagination is limited and fleeting.

An urban attempt at transcendence failed.

I hear the cry of a single cricket. I wonder if he knows that he is alone, isolated? Anchored between the slabs, what to him must represent thousands of miles of concrete expanse, thousands of miles between the place he is and the place he should be--is he aware he's misplaced himself? He calls out again and again, his individual cry repeated in futility without answer.


In the garden walking. In a bush burning and then in a cloud. God on the sea walking. Separating it. He's in the storm. God on a mountaintop. He sends rain and he withholds it. He rains bread from the sky? In the wilderness. The lyon God. Wild and natural. Man's wild and natural experience of Him. When I read the Bible I get this notion that God enjoys a ubiquitous existence within nature where He is always alone with man. And man with Him.

When mountainous climbing walls and waterfalls are removed and moved indoors where temperature is manipulable and constant; when the deepest pleasures in life become commodified, impersonalized and sold on shelves; when we can identify forty celebrities and their work but can't name four different types of tree--what effect does it have on us? In a mass media, electronic culture of mass consumption and massively exaggerated self consciousness, amidst all the artificial artiface of narcissistic advertising and the reality promised in virtual experience--were our lives to depend on it--would it even be possible to live a life of unrehearsed spontaneity, of real individuality? It is difficult to be genuine. In a branded land it is difficult to be new. Neither are for sale

As our experiences get more virtual, more controlled and rehearsed, I wonder what happens to our perception of the Divine?