From Joey's Doll's Other Arm

Often I think we are afraid to speak frankly of God and gods, because we cannot read that Mind, because so often religion is evil and greedy and bloody, because faith is so quixotic and unreasonable, because "spirituality" is a word as overloaded with connotation as a log-truck topheavy with the bones of trees. But because we sensibly fear a label does not mean we should be afraid of the content, and I wonder, on this bright morning, if divine love is not unlike Joey's doll's other arm: nearby, sensed, remembered, yearned for, searched for day after day after day, our breaths condensing on the glassy panes of this spectacularly inexplicable world as we look for it.

I also think that this lush troubled world, so ferociously lovely, so plundered and raped and endangered, is itself a seething river of divine love, in much the same way as Joey is. Like Joey, the ship of this world came to me from seas unknown; both were made elsewhere and placed in my hands like squirming jewels, and my work and active prayer is to cherish them, to protect them, to try to hear in them maker's music, to sing a little of that music myself. Love comes in so many guises, and a deep respect and affection for cedar trees or sockeye salmon is close cousin to a deep respect and affection for children and neighborhoods and wives. Love is a continuum; so a man who says he loves his wife and children is at the least blind and at the most evil if he votes to rape land (a very slow-moving creature) and kill creatures. He is in a real sense killing his own loved ones; he is killing himself.

The truest words I ever heard about divine love were uttered once by a friend as a grace before a meal. He bowed his head, in the guttering candlelight, steam rising from the food before him, the fingers of the cedar outside brushing the window, and said "We are part of a Mystery we do not understand, and we are grateful."



An excerpt from Brian Doyle's Revelations and Epiphanies, published by Crossroad and distributed in Australia by John Garratt Publishing. Click here for more information

Click here for details of Brian Doyle's Melbourne and Sydney talks in March 2004