Friday, November 18, 2005


I gave a presentation last week for the Brookline Adult Education Program on my newest book, Climbing Brandon. Afterwards, someone asked me why I don't worship as a Universalist Unitarian. I get asked this often, and I certainly get enough invitations to speak at UU services.

I was never much for collective activities. Whatever religion I profess is best practiced alone in the woods. But there is something else, something darker, maybe sexual, irrational even -- something I don't get much of a sense of in those sunny UU liturgies.

I was raised a Roman Catholic, and an odor of that faith just won't wash away. A sense of Druidic magic. A sense of presence. A profound attraction to the symbolic possibilities of earth, air, fire and water -- wax, oil, wine, and bread. I cannot profess the Creed, nor do I have any truck with the supernatural, yet I retain an indelible stamp of the creation mysticism that has long been a part of the RC faith. I find in my maturity that something of that quasi-pagan pantheism -- think Columbanus, Pelagius, Erigena, Julian of Norwich, Meister Eckhart, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Georges Bernanos, Sigrid Undset, Teilhard de Chardin, Flannery O'Connor, and all the rest, many of who were condemned as heretics or sanctioned -- rests comfortably with the other faith of my childhood, the one I picked up in woods, meadows and drainage ditches -- a passion for the immanent, the sensual, the here and now.