a poem by
As home from church we two did plod,
“Grandpa,” said Rosy, “What is God?”
Seeking an answer to her mind,
This is the best that I could find. . . .
God is the Iz-ness of our Cosmic Biz; The high, the low, the near, the far, The atom and the evening star; The lark, the shark, the cloud, the clod, The whole darned Universe—that’s God.
Some deem that others there be, And to them humbly bend the knee;
To Mumbo Jumbo and to Joss,
To Bud and Allah—but the Boss
Is mine . . . While there are suns and seas
MY timeless God shall dwell in these.
In every glowing leaf He lives; When roses die His life he gives;
No Architect (as I of verse) He is Himself the Universe.
Said Rosy-kins: “Grandpa, how odd Is your imagining of God. To me he’s always just appeared A huge Grandfather with a beard.
OK then. . . I give up, I give up, I surrender utterly. I throw myself on the ground and beg. What does the poem mean? Why did this surge up from some dire trench in my fevered brain? It was all mixed up and wrong, of course. I first read an excerpt from it at the start of a chapter of a goddamn book that I am goddamned if I remember. It was a misquote that really read much better than the "real" version:
God is the Izness of the Is,
The Oneness of our Cosmic Biz.
Doesn't that sound a lot more harmonious than the bumpety version I've posted? But it's on every site (public domain, I might add, like everything I post, harrumph) in this strange form that doesn't scan. Doesn't scan! And it's Robert Service.
Robert Service who wrote The Cremation of Sam McGee and The Shooting of Quick Draw McGraw and The Defrosting of Frank and all that stuff we were forced to learn in grade school.
"When you're out in the wild, and you're lost like a child, and death looks you bang in the eye. . . " What next?
I couldn't even find this poem because I assumed it was called Cosmiz Biz or some-such thing. I have no idea why he had to call it Rosykins (with its vaguely pedophilic connotations) and bookend his philosophy with such gooey Victorian sentiment. Little Rosykins reminds me of that windup Edison doll spouting the kind of sweetness that makes you want to drop-kick it into the nearest sewer.
But this Cosmic Biz stuff still seemed pretty good in my mind. The lark, the shark, the cloud, the clod. In a sense the old coot is kinda progressive, in that he does not think of God as the "architect" who "made" all this stuff: "he" (pardon the archaic term) actually IS all these things.
Interesting philosophy, but how does one "worship" this pan-adoration of all nature-and-things? What IS worship, anyway, and doesn't it sound a bit heathenish, like sticking something up on a pole or having a drain in the middle of the floor for blood sacrifice?
I wonder about this stuff all the time, I really do. It comes down to the idea of a "personal God", a God that cares for each of us, loves us unconditionally, accepts and forgives our foibles and sins. So that even the very hairs upon your head are numbered. Oh how we long for this. Long long long and deeply yearn for a Someone or a Something (more likely Someone, as it's more personal and parental or even grandparental) that enfolds us and understands us, that "made" us somehow, formed us in the womb so that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
I wanted, needed, sought the personal God, tried to find it/him in Jesus who seemed to represent something I could hang on to. I read Gerard Manley Hopkins and The Hound of Heaven and tried to extract meaning, however obscure. For a while, oh yes, for quite a while I seemed to be doing it.
But it was all so - what? Wispy. I could not grab hold anywhere. I could only glimpse God out of the corner of my eye. When I turned, "it" was gone like mist evaporated in a flash. Or Pan ducking back behind the tree with a demonic chuckle.
I have glimpsed, felt "something" in the unthinking, selfless love of some (very) few individuals who love without loving or even thinking about it, who "are" love in fact, seamless. I have known, I think, two and a half of them (I am married to half of one, but I don't blame him. I stole the other half and devoured it.) I had a grandmother, and I knew a man in AA who did remind me of my grandmother, and everyone he knew felt like his favorite because in a way, they were. I have wondered if my grandmother, my mother's mother, perhaps saved my life by providing me with the only sure sign of love I ever knew.
So is this "God" or just human goodness, or are they the same? Once there was nothing, now there is something, yes, and how, and we are about to destroy it all too. It can go back, back to just nothing. From the void to the void. Just as my life went from chaos, to grace, and back to chaos again. Now I sift through the ruins of my faith and find a bone here, a tooth there. Maybe I can match it up with some chart. Some scripture, like that incomprehensible Gospel of Thomas I looked up after seeing that silly Stigmata movie (only worth seeing for Gabriel Byrne, the impossibly gorgeous, completely-believeable-as-an-Irish-priest-forever-caught-in-a-crisis-of-faith-but-still-capable-of-loving-especially-that-nubile-young-woman-from-the-coffee-shop-who-eventually-channels-some-saint-or-other-and-provides-the-world-with-a-brand-new-and-completely-revolutionary-and-thus-potentially-Church-destroying-message-directly-from-Jesus-himself).
The Gospel of Thomas, I'm sorry Thomas, was a goddamn mess, just a jumble with no connective tissue. The "sayings" and "teachings" were like a jigsaw puzzle that had tipped out of its box onto the floor. Squiggly little pieces of meaning are not enough.
I seek, and I don't find. Not really. I carry on, and I worry. Things leap into my head, anxieties. I laugh and cry, and have orgasms, and function pretty well thankyouverymuch, in the usual way, but - what's missing? A little Cosmic Biz?
Grandfather: what does it all mean?