Saturday, May 31, 2008

Star Trek, Time, Veterans and Crystallization of Identity

I'm a Star Trek fan from way back. WAY back. So it's not to surprising that I think of Star Trek as one of my "lexicons." Well, there is this episode of ST:DS9 that intrigues me. Sisko takes back an orb (sacred artifact of the Bajorans) into the wormhole and has encounters with the Prophets (wormhole aliens). Now the prophets are pretty interesting; we are anchored in one particular place in TIME, but not space. We can move around. The Prophets are anchored in one particular place in SPACE but not time. So interactions with the prophets are interesting. It's a Heisenberg-ian kind of thing.

In this episode, Sisko communicates with the Prophets, but is always in the same place and time. Every time he encounters the Prophets, it is at the moment of his wife's death. We see that moment over and over again. We experience the violence of the death, his grief and agony, his despair of having to leave her body. He asks the Prophet why they are tormenting him and they respond, "But this is where you exists." It was a moment in time where Sisko WAS in a way that he WASN'T anywhere else. His person and identity are crystallized in that moment; it shapes the rest of his life.

These moments occur in all of our lives. My dad was a veteran; if you are a vet, you can understand some of his moments. I saw an echo of this in the movie "Flags of our Fathers" when Doc Bradley collapses from a stroke/heart attack on the steps of his place of business and he cries out, "Where is he?? Where is he??" From the flow of the movie you KNOW that he is looking for his friend Iggy who had died in the hands of the Japanese 50 years previously. My dad lived, he existed in moments when he helped liberate the concentration camps; I know other vets that live in moments like these. I think of them every Memorial Day and I wonder if they will ever find healing; if they CAN be healed or if that moment needs somehow to be redeemed.

I have my moments in time; there was the moment where I told my Dad goodbye; there was the moment where I was driving to the hospital to claim my mother's body and I saw the lights on First Baptist's Steeple. There was the moment I surrendered to God as I rocked my baby who was sleeping in a light blanket because of jaundice; I surrendered myself and took up my call. I exist in these moments; somehow these moments are eternal.

My mom died May 28 seven year ago. Those final moments with her are still crystal clear. They have shaped my life. I think of them every year, around this time. We all have them. My Dad dreamed of the concentration camps the rest of his life. We also will crystallize other people by these moments; they shape our perceptions of them. I have a perception of a minister of my youth and the day he ordered a homeless person out of the sanctuary. I have an image of another the day he held my grandmother's hand and cried with her the day my grandfather died.

What are your crystallizing moments? How have you been shaped? Are they moments of hurt that still need healing? Are they moments that have helped shape the world's perception of you?

We also have images of Christ that we carry around with us. Some of us have an image of the babe in the manger; some the image of Christ on the Cross. Most of these crystallizing moments are of great pain or great joy. Which will we cling to? Which can we let go? Where will we exist? Can we exist with the great "I Am?" Can we?

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