Friday, November 5, 2010
Peter Cicchino is Calling Me To Be A King of Heaven
Ok, so I went to law school with this very magical person named Peter Cicchino. He died in 2000. He helped me help my brother come out, he and I were both Articles Editors for the Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review and when I first met him he was just this goofy gay former Jesuit on my journal and in my Postmodernism and the Law Class. We shared a background steeped in scripture and religious traditions and a goofy love of rights, of civil rights and civil liberties. I never understood why he was friends with me, but he was, and I was privileged to spend time with him. I didn't realize how privileged until later.
He has been completely inexplicably and intensely on my mind lately. I have been reading everything on his website, www.petercicchino.com .
(I have to call Christians' attention to the Civil Rights - Civil Liberties volumes from the years Peter and I worked there. You will find the years between 1990 and 1992 studded with articles that are strangely out of place contemplations of civil rights and Christianity and mysticism, including Hartigan's Power of Language Beyond Words, my Note on Theology and Civil Rights)
I forgot in the last eighteen years (ten since his death, how can that be?) that he gave the valedictory address to our class at law school. It's printed in one of the articles - Charles Ogletree's tribute to Saint Peter. He told our class to use our arrogance (favourite quote: speaking about arrogance at Harvard is like speaking about Catholicism at the Vatican), contentious and overwhelming sense that we were born to be in charge, to run the world. To run the world for good. The very qualities that made us so annoying to our families were not vices to be eliminated, but strengths to be used for good. I urge you to read this address. I will twitter the link as soon as I can.
So I am so very drawn to this address in such a busy week.
And that's not the only thing that's been happening.
I noticed a comment on the Rock Me Sexy Jesus discussion on Wheaton College Freethinkers that I was dangerously close to believing in God again.
My yoga teacher keeps whispering in my ear that in fact, I am enough. She gave me this quote. It is still on my desk somewhere:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
- Marianne Williamson. I don't know about that one, actually.
My nearly two-year-old daughter is currently obsessed with washing her hands. It is all she wants to do, lean over a sink and run water over her hands and wash them with soap, over and over, and it seems in some ways at my tenderest moments as a kind of absolution, a forgiveness, an invitation. The Frederick Buechner clack-clacking of two branches together while you lie on your back and stare up at a tree and wish for a sign of God.
And it gets much worse. For months now I have had this stupid burning mouth syndrome. My mouth is burning. It feels like it is on fire and appears burned all the time. It's like my own body is conspiring with my daughter and the universe at large to get me speak. To get me to explain what I have learned, to say what I know, to shout fearlessly about how the world can be better. All I know is that I have tried the available remedies, and they are not working, and still the tongue of this lawyer/(ex?)Christian/bipolar/mother burns.
Jesus said "Woe also unto you lawyers! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them."
And, you know, the law is an unparalleled force of culture, and those of us trained in it, those of us arrogant and contentious enough to lead it, those of us powerful enough to create change, well, woe unto us indeed. For we have raised our children and built our extensions and acted as if these were not times of great upheaval and change. But they are, and we should stand up for what we know will make the world better for humans and animals and plants. Most of us, myself included, earn their paycheck by making the world better for corporations and sovereigns and churches. These institutions take our power and we must keep them on short leashes.
The law is stagnant. It is dying of neglect. The forms and structures are antiquated, and creaking under the weight of the present needs of our world.
It is not as if new principles need to be found, it is that the best principles need to be incorporated everywhere. If corporations, sovereigns and churches really have no functional differences between them, a number of changes to existing law flows effortlessly from that fact.