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It Never Fails

March 15, 2018

Technology never fails to fail.

For a well-planned, prepared and thought-through event, the planned tech rehearsal did not happen because the thing that we could not plan, the weather, happened. So we show up early the next day of the performance, and, well, not early enough.

The show went on. Late. On an emergency rerouted site. With words turned into cryptograms. For some. Not recorded, so re-enacted and recorded apres. But without direct connection of the images shown, so some are not discernible. 3 hours turned into 5.

Oh, well.

So then I look at a repair of a perfectly formed wall.

Then I go to the wrong place for a meeting, late, without a phone number to call to say I went to the wrong place, late.

All in one 8 hours of ongoing failures.

But the show went on. The house stood up. The meeting happened.

That night, with a compensatory Rob Roy being sipped, a friend relays to me her complete detachment from the religious rituals of her youth, to the point of atheism. She wonders if anything can be legitimate with the stank of so much irrelevance, hypocrisy, even disengenuousness  – she wonders if anything religious can have meaning to anyone given the obvious judgmental piety.

“I agree with you.”

She was shocked. “But you, you are sure of these things!”

I am fairly deeply involved in the future of faith. In buildings, people, myself, but more publicly with the Episcopal Church. It has a full belly of ritual, ceremony, opaque preachy words to the point of becoming its own self-congradulatory (and mochably pretentious) club. And by the way, I really love those words and the melodies that have meant to much every Sunday for me.

All those things happened over centuries of time, when ignorance, hubris and the joy of control made a place that has come to be irrelevant to most of us.

But as Groucho said, any club that would admit me is not one that I could belong to.

In that way, over time, buildings always fail. Times, people, technology changes. Buildings need to change too. Religion is no longer a social construct but a personal realization. It is bottom up, not top down.

She then questioned how any building built by any of these clubs could mean anything to anyone but the members of the club – a shrinking number, often pretty defensive here in New England. I told her that buildings are designed for whoever ends up to be their users, no matter who they come to be.

If a place is of a group, that’s who it’s built for. So if I work with those who know the building is not just for the group who is building it, offering up the openness, the joy of welcome, the embrace and the building does not trade on ritual, or inside baseball, or any cultish affect anyone can feel what I know is all of us. If the idea is that the building reflects the deeper truth, that we all have irrational, indefensible love that gives us nothing in return, that simply evokes the happy awe of beauty, is in every human. And I think it can be in every building.

“That’s easy for you to say, you’re perfect!” She replies. I laugh hysterically, and reply, “I only know this because how my life is full of epic fails.” She looked at me intensely.

I relayed to her that because all of us fail, just like all of our things fail, that the difference is that we still have, despite the ongoing failures, the abiding sense that we are not doomed, lost, even compromised enough to end hope. And hope is a breath away from Faith. And if you have failed enough, you begin to see that hope becomes faith, if there is love.

Despite all the pretty, happy, triumphant pics, solemn, righteous oathing, and the achievements so deftly chronicled on social media, that all exist, all of them are but counterpoint to the inevitable, ongoing disappointments and fears everyone has, right now.

The hope in the midst of that often has no reason. The inevitability of death has made for the predators who created “Me too” victims or the weird connections that cause people to kill others, just like them. There is defendability in cynicism, even rejection of what we love. I found that every day in my parents.

The only way I can live is simply live that love they gave up on.

No pontification. No argumendo justification. No control of our culture, or manipulating fear with guilt. Everything, everyone, fails, but the show goes on. When it has no reason to. When the results of our hopes, in faith, are very unreasonable, very unjustified, are not in our control.

The only way I can do that is with buildings. And my family. And some words. But mostly with God, and, for me, Jesus, here in Lent.

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