“Roots hold me close”, wrote Carolyn McDade, in her prayer, now made a hymn “Spirit of Life”. Hold me within the love of my people, and hold in my place in the cosmos. We may not fully understand how powerful love is as root to our existence but love’s longing is powerful. Patricia Monagen in her work The Fourth Genre told of losing her husband. She was never much of a church person, preferring the Sunday paper every time. But when her husband died she was lost, not enough to go to church, yet, but still lost. And then came the incident of the keys. There were five keys bound together on big brass ring. They were the keys to what remained of her life: one to the front door, one to the garage, two to her office and one to which she had forgotten its reason. Anyway, she lost the keys, No big deal people lose their keys all the time. Methodically she searched the house, twice. No keys. Nowhere. She started to cry, again, what she would do without the keys. She cried as she had been but stronger than before, crying from exhaustion of having taken care of her husband until died, crying from loneliness, crying from anger. She stopped crying and started to look again. Still no keys. And then she started yelling, at Bob for having died, at life, at God, at the trees in her front yard. She was not a believer in the afterlife. But her husband had been. She loved that about him, his faith and his integrity, until the end of his life, while in pain and scared, he was brave and certain. But until that day of the keys she had admittedly refused to settle for what religion had to offer, some harpy afterlife to fill the cosmic void. But these keys made her wonder again for the very first time. What if? What then? Did you hide my keys Bob? She yelled despite herself, is this some kind of a joke?
And that is when it all changed. She accepted she had no keys. She went and called a locksmith. She got on. But she wondered about the keys almost every day. Can the world beyond what I see manifest itself? Can there be something beyond what I am so certain is here. She reflected on some of her husband’s last words, “our universe is full of facts and opposites, everything happens for a reason and yet as if nothing exists as all.” Damn you Bob, she thought, you and your Zen koans. But she couldn’t let go of the keys disappearing. The lost keys were becoming keys to accepting the possible as greater than the knowable. Yes, she thought, what could be is as plausible as what we do know. Why not? Someday it might just be different. What Heisenberg called the Uncertainty Principle actually applied to the afterlife. A lack of evidence in one realm does not mean evidence is lacking in another. Matter doesn’t disappear, it is transformed and not always as we assume it will be.
A year later almost to the day of this emerging revelation, Patricia was staring at the door to her study. Nothing special. There was poster tacked to the back of it. She stared and noticed it look odd. She stood up and felt the bottom of it. There was a bulge. She pulled the poster up and there were her keys, behind the poster on the back of a door. She tried throwing them at the door to see if they would hit the door and slide behind the poster. She tried tossing them in the air. No. Those keys were not put there, or even thrown there. It was not possible. And there they were.
She recalled yelling at Bob in her grief, telling him to give back the keys. Was this an answer? Still she resisted. And then she yielded that physics moved in a new way. She yielded and felt a new understanding emerge. Bob was not gone. And neither were her keys. “Death” Einstein once said “means nothing, people like me who believe in physics know that the difference between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” Roots extend deep into our love. (adapted from Patricia Monagen in her work The Fourth Genre)
With Grace and Grit, John