I have been working hard trying to put what has been happening here in perspective. A favorite book “Care of the Soul” by the psychotherapist Thomas Moore has bee calling me to revisit its pages. The chapter on the psychopathology of things is the key I was looking for.
The psychopathology of things speaks to the concept that all things, even objects, have the property of soul. This property of soul connects us to the would around us. For example, I know that I am connected to a star that exploded billions of years ago because the iron in my blood was generated in the supernova explosion that ended that star’s life. That iron connects me to every human, nearly all life on Earth, and every object in this solar system that contains iron. It is therefor a soulful thing to honor the Universe in all its glory.
Things in this house have been breaking apace, reflecting a less dramatic and more emotional connection between the objects in our world and us. All this breaking is all about us, about me, about our breaking, throwing ourselves at the world and shattering at it’s indifference. Our refrigerator dies because it would rather die than enable the way we cook and the soulless food we prepare. My TV set-top box dies, and I know it’s not a bad chip or preplanned obsolesce, but the malfunction is a reflection that TV is a distraction that I can’t afford. A utility bill is unpaid, accountability and integrity are broken, just like my life.
The cats, both inside and out, work to reanimate this place, to reenchant the house and the land. The indoor cats run around and chase each other, the outside cats live in a hole under a broken roof shed, and vie for the food given to them. I want to make a garden here, but my heart has been broken too many times by building a garden then leaving it. I have sometimes seen the soulful hand of nature show that the weeds, the overgrown yews, the trashy scrub trees, the vines and the unmown back yard back in the spring when there was rain there was an odd order, that the garden was already here. I let go and let God (or at least someone more motived) to trim and mow and keep as they see fit. I stay out of the argument.
I touch the walls of this house and I feel it’s disappointment in us, in me. I can”t bring order and peace alone. I can’t honor it by cleaning it, the best way to honor a space, because there are two people here who feel that it’s too much work to clean. So I burn a little sage and sweetgrass in rare moments of solitude and hope that my offering is sufficient.
One day I will have a house of my own again, a small house with a a kitchen filled with good things to eat, a table set for guests, and outside a garden so productive and beautiful that God thinks he forgot to shut Eden. It would be a place where you touch the walls and feel the joy of the place.