Saturday, April 13, 2002

To say it simply -- we might have found ground -- a place for Meetingbrook Hermitage to root.

The seedling these several years searching soil, is, perhaps, ready to enfold, dive deep, and unfold. It's still early. But, something quickens!

On a doorpost in a lovely house in Belfast there is a Mezuzah with the Shema. "Shema" is the word that begins the verse "Shema Israel", "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One". (Deut.6). Upstairs, on the door to a bedroom with a tank of tropical fish, there is a crucifix.

In the readings for this weekend the Jewish Yeshua (Jesus), who had been put to death, is reported to breakfast on the beach with a small group after a fishing encounter that yielded a surprising catch.

These memory devices -- words on doorposts, wood on doors, words on paper -- are set there to remind us of a ground longing to arrive home. The Lord is One. The child of God who died rather than deny that reality. The story of surprise nourishment when we release our controlling will and open to the free and loving wholeness that each is in God. These are fragments of a picture we puzzle to understand.

If you think that you
Have cut off illusory mind,
Instead of simply clarifying
How illusory mind melts,
Illusory mind will come up again,
As though you had cut off
The stem of a blade of grass
And left the root alive.

- Menzan Zuiho (1682-1769)

Our task is to clarify how illusory mind melts. If we allow this clarity to arrive with a still, silent, safe, and aware compassion -- we might be able to simply live with each other as neighbor, friend, and family.

We can't cut each other out. We can't cut each other up. Something else is being called for. We, if we are to live profoundly the gift we each have been given, must listen.

"Listen," says St Benedict in his rule. "Hear," says the Shema. Take root illusion, and watching, let it melt away -- the Zen invitation calls.

The ground is softening. It is mid-April. Smell that ground. Feel it. Love it. It -- everywhere and at every depth -- is our source.

In Belfast this week we found ground. For this next week, we'll watch, listen, and pray.
Soon, we trust, we’ll see!

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

The windbell rings outside my window over kitchen where Zwiebel Kuchen (onion cake) lofts its scent with breeze moving through bell and open window. Sunlight. Daffodil stalk rises dark green alongside empty birdfeeder. A lovely morning! And yet, will this all one day disappear?

About the mystery that the cosmos has to disappear, Teilhard de Chardin said –
The more I think about this mystery, the more it appears to me, in my dreams, as a “turning-about” of consciousness – an eruption of interior life – as an ecstasy. There is no need to rack our brains to understand how the material vastness of the universe will ever be able to disappear. Spirit has only to be reversed, to move into a different zone, for the whole shape of the world immediately to be changed. (The Future of Man, p.322)

In 1955, 10April, on Easter Sunday, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin died. His writings -- a combining of biology, paleontology, philosophy, and spiritual visionary reflection – had to wait until after his death to be published. He was as obedient a Jesuit as he was an unorthodox thinker.

He'd written a reflection finished in Tientsin, on 25 March 1924, titled, "The End of the World." It is found in his book The Future of Man as the final essay. It ends,
When the end of time is at hand, a terrifying spiritual pressure will be exerted on the confines of the real, built up by the desperate efforts of souls tense with longing to escape from the earth. This pressure will be unanimous. Scripture, however, tells us that at the same time the world will be affected by a profound schism -- some trying to emerge from themselves in order to dominate the world even more completely -- others, relying on the words of Christ, waiting passionately for the world to die, so that they may be absorbed with it in God.

It is then, we may be sure, that the Parousia will be realized in a creation that has been taken to the climax of its capacity for union. The single act of assimilation and synthesis that has been going on since the beginning of time will then at last be made plain, and the universal Christ will blaze out like a flash of lightning in the storm clouds of a world whose slow consecration is complete.

…At that moment, St. Paul tells us (1Cor.15: 23ff) when Christ has emptied all created forces (rejecting in them everything that is a factor of dissociation and super-animating all that is a force of unity), he will consummate universal unification by giving himself, in his complete and adult Body, with a finally satisfied capacity for union, to the embrace of the Godhead.

Thus will be constituted the organic complex of God and world – the Pleroma – the mysterious reality of which we cannot say that it is more beautiful than God by himself (since God could dispense with the world), but which we cannot, either, consider completely gratuitous, completely subsidiary, without making creation unintelligible, the Passion of Christ meaningless, and our effort completely valueless,

Et tunc erit finis. [Then it will be finished.]

Like a vast tide, Being will have engulfed the shifting sands of being. Within a now tranquil ocean, each drop of which, nevertheless, will be conscious of remaining itself, the astonishing adventure of the world will have ended. The dream of every mystic, the eternal pantheist ideal, will have found its full and legitimate satisfaction. ‘Erit in omnibus omnia Deus.’ [‘God will be all in all.’)

(The Future of Man, pp322-323)

We are in 'between' time. We’re happy to move along our ordinary lives. But something nags. There is a suspicion that we really don’t have much figured out. But we go on, as we must.

Elsewhere, a web essay looks at Teilhard's thought:
To be fully ourselves, according to Teilhard, we must head in the direction of "convergence with all the rest...towards the other." He puts it grandly: "The peak of ourselves, the acme of our originality, is not our individuality but our person; and according to the evolutionary structure of the world, we can only find our person by uniting together. There is no mind without synthesis."

The danger, or the evil, is not so much the ego as it is egocentrism! Teilhard denotes that egocentrism (or egoism) confuses "individuality with personality." Becoming separate, the ego "individualizes itself." It is a fatal move, it is regressive. It seeks "to drag the world backwards towards plurality and into matter."

For Teilhard, the point of the individuation process, or being open to universal insight, is to further the evolution of cosmic (and human) consciousness and creativity.

Teilhard believes that there is an enfolded creative Intelligence within the depths of the cosmos...and that every aspect of human experience can be affected by this creative Intelligence, mainly via a "breakthrough" experience.

("The Cosmic Plenum: Teilhard's Gnosis: Cosmogenesis," by Beatrix Murrell on web Stoa del Sol essays)

The wind picks up. Gale warnings off the coast. White clouds chat against April blue sky. So much on the ground – in Israel and Palestine for example – is besieged by momentary uncertainty, by the nearby dissolution of particular lives. We are no longer that far. Not merely from warfare and terrorism – but we are not that far from the change in consciousness Teilhard speaks about.

This “turning-about,” this “breakthrough” – not that far? Between here and there, between now and then – what fears of ours will have to dissolve?

While we ponder, phoebe, crow, and redwing blackbird sing psalms and antiphons into the wooded wind.

Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Between you and me, what's going on?
Resurrection might be the beginning. Ascension the continuance. What is the end? And what is between beginning and end?

The season of Easter with another 40 days to wonder and wander -- something dies, something survives and rises, and now the wait. The wait between rising and ascending. Ascending? What does that mean?

What if we were like the zen master who said "Is that so?" each of the times he was slandered and apologized to for the slander? Both times he stated or asked, "So it is!" or "Is that so?"

What if we were like Jesus who when asked if he was who some said he was answered only "You say so!" -- returning to the investigators their own words, their own minds?

The zen master went on living, we suspect, long after his earlier death in the opinion of townsfolk for the (uncommitted) sin of impregnating a young girl. He simply accepted her giving over of the child to him, the scorn of the people, then the apology and acknowledgement many years later he was not the father of the child. He returned the child to its mother with the same words, "Is that so?" with which he received the child those years before.

Jesus returns to life with a similar question. "Is this so?" he asks. Made the object of hope, then the object of betrayal and rejection, he is put to death, a death (not without searing anguish) he accepts. Now -- no longer object -- the empty, stark, unrecognizable, and unfinished reappearance from the tomb. Jesus takes to this hiatus. He is between things. Between places. A kind of thin place that nears and involves.

Julian of Norwich writes:
So in our true Mother Jesus our life is founded in his own prescient wisdom from without beginning, with the great power of the Father and the supreme goodness of the Holy Spirit. And in accepting our nature he gave us life, and in his blessed dying on the Cross he bore us to endless life. And since that time, now and ever until the day of judgment, he feeds us, and fosters us, just as the great supreme lovingness of motherhood wishes, and as the natural need of childhood asks.
(--from Showings, p.304, in Peoples Companion to the Breviary, Easter Monday, c.1997)

So high you cannot
Climb or get close to it;
Raindrops scatter in the flying wind.
The gate is barred with green moss.
Suddenly forgetting thought,
Without attainment,
Only then will you be sure
The gate has been open all along.

- Zen Master T’aego (1301-1382)(dailyzen)

All along? Is that so?
This time wandering the between occupies me. My mind is completely confused. Nothing makes sense. I am lost. My only sanity is the poet's words that say that the forest knows where I am, the song of the bird knows where I am, and the earth I stand on knows where I am.

And in this season of Easter, that too knows where I am, I hope.

Mary Magdalen, who had eyes for Jesus alone, saw him and mistook him for the gardener. Two disciples walked miles with him between Jerusalem and Emmaus, talked hours with him, and thought him a stranger. To recognize the risen Jesus, you would have needed a special grace -- as when Jesus murmured to Magdalene "Mary", or broke bread with Cleopas and his friend at Emmaus. And still, for all the mystery of this new Jesus, at once seated with [God] in glory and moving magically through the barriers of our earth, he is the same Jesus who was fashioned from a teen-ager's flesh, the same Jesus who walked our dust and waked our dead, the same Jesus who hung three hours between two robbers, the same Jesus who, Scripture proclaims, "always lives to make intercession for [us]" (Heb. 7:25). Without so risen a Christ, without so loving a Lord, Christianity is a sham and a scam.
(--Walter J. Burghardt, SJ, Lovely in Eyes Not His Own, pp. 43-44, in Peoples Companion to the Breviary, vol.2, p.208)

"Intercession," (L. inter=between, cedere=to go) might mean more than we have considered. To go between is more than an intermediary task. To go into the between has more of 'a new way of being' quality to it. To live between, to live within the between -- this is so strange a way of dwelling! Are we, unknowingly, residing in that between? And do we do whatever we can, anything we can, to busy ourselves out of that center?

This and that, this or that -- we need hiatus. Where look?

Life from the Center is a life of unhurried peace and power. It is simple. It is serene. It is amazing. It is triumphant. It is radiant. It takes no time, but occupies all our time. And it makes our life programs new and overcoming.
(- Thomas R. Kelly, Quaker Spirituality, p. 305, op.cit.p.202)

This is a time between. Simple grace is to be aware of it. Special grace -- well, there's no telling when that appears -- isn't this so?

Lost, I ask: what is taking place?

The zen master says, "nothing special."
The contemplative says, "special grace."

How peculiar! How particular! Here we are.
[Website was out of commission for a week. Karl has righted. Events and Update will be posted in the righting.]