When I'm riding the most wonderful things come to mind. I compose amazing and possibly insightful prose, but then I get home. My "Riding Mind" becomes Cinderella and the marvelous spell cast by two wheels unravels. By the time I can sit myself down at the computer I'm lucky to have one slipper. It is much like trying to remember a dream. I can almost, but not quite. It is very frustrating.
Today I saw a couple of those "Happy Birthday, Jesus," signs planted in folk's yards. I cannot tell you how much I dislike those signs. Hello! We don't know when Jesus was born. Christians didn't really need to celebrate his birthday until it became important to confirm his humanity after much time emphasizing his divinity. "Yes," Christmas says, "Rejoice, Jesus was born. He is truly human." And what better time to affirm this great joy then when the light is once more overcoming the darkness.
As I was pondering this, my "Riding Mind" was remembering the Jerusalem Talmud saying the Messiah would be born on Tisha B'Av, the Ninth Day of the Jewish month of Av, which usually falls sometime between late July and early August. On Tisha B'Av both the First Temple and the Second Temple were destroyed. On Tisha B'Av, in 1290, the Jews were expelled from England. On Tisha B'Av in 1492, the Jews were expelled from Spain. Tisha B'Av has become the day when all the tragedies experienced by the Jewish People coalesce into a profound sadness. Here the Messiah doesn't come bringing light into the darkness, but rather hope into the sadness.
During the past week a friend died. It was the end of a long and truly heroic struggle against the darkness of a number of ailments. Another friend's mother suffered a stroke. Another friend is in the midst of a long standing custody battle which once again turned for the worse. Another friend's sister chose to end her life. Darkness and sadness.
My "Riding Mind" embraced all this, knew all this, and could explain how both Christmas and Tisha B'Av point us to the really big truth: The two times we are most profoundly open to the Holy are at times of great joy and at times of deep sadness. Of the two, sadness seems the more well worn path. Personally, I'm not sure joy has every opened me up to experience Life at its most profoundest. I know sadness has. The Holy has entered my life on the wings of healing. I'm still waiting to encounter the Whirling Wonder through joy.
My "Riding Mind" was overflowing with wonderful things to say to support my friends in their struggles and griefs. Then the ride ended and clarity slipped away. It always seems to.