Saturday, April 04, 2015

comes night, awaiting fire

The Sowing of Meanings

              by Thomas Merton

See the high birds! Is their's the song
That dies among the wood-light
Wounding the listener with such bright arrows?
Or do they play in wheeling silences
Defining in the perfect sky
The bounds of (here below) our solitude,

Where spring has generated lights of green
To glow in clouds upon the sombre branches?
Ponds full of sky and stillnesses
What heavy summer songs still sleep
Under the tawny rushes at your brim?

More than a season will be born here, nature,
In your world of gravid mirrors!
The quiet air awaits one note,
One light, one ray and it will be the angels' spring:
One flash, one glance upon the shiny pond, and then
Asperges me! sweet wilderness, and lo! we are redeemed!

For, like a grain of fire
Smouldering in the heart of every living essence
God plants His undivided power --
Buries His thought too vast for worlds
In seed and root and blade and flower,

Until, in the amazing light of April,
Surcharging the religious silence of the spring,
Creation finds the pressure of His everlasting secret
Too terrible to bear.

Then every way we look, lo! rocks and trees
Pastures and hills and streams and birds and firmament
And our own souls within us flash, and shower us with light,
While the wild countryside, unknown, unvisited of men,
Bears sheaves of clean, transforming fire.

And then, oh then the written image, schooled in sacrifice,
The deep united threeness printed in our being,
Shot by the brilliant syllable of such an intuition, turns within,
And plants that light far down into the heart of darkness and oblivion,
Dives after, and discovers flame.

- from Selected Poems of Thomas Merton)

Out of love

Second Reading
From an ancient homily for Holy Saturday
The Lord's descent into the underworld

Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.
    He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
    I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated. For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.
    See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.
    I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.
    Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

(--from Office of Readings, Holy Saturday, Vigils)

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Esse est percipi

"To be is to be perceived." So said George Berkeley. He relied on God to perceive what humans cease perceiving.

So -- what do you see?

This year emptiness is form.

The ordinary serves as liturgical.

I wash dishes afterward.

And these thy gifts.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

no cliché

April fools 
At times

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

thought what?

Question: Tell me -- if you were to see God, what would you see?

Answer: [silence]

Ha! I thought so.

Monday, March 30, 2015

the art of not being missed

Social epistemology. We rely on others to know what we believe we know.

Yet, it is our responsibility to know what we know as best we can.

I know I will not go to monastery this week.

This week will be something else.

Larry Darrell would understand.

"The path to salvation is narrow and as difficult to walk as a razor's edge." (Epigraph to W. Somerset Maugham's The Razor's Edge.)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

One drops one drop at a time

In the beginning was the myth. And the myth became words. And words longed to become poem.
And what is not poetry usually deadens our imagination.
The way the Orthodox teachers look at the story of Adam and Eve is quite different from the way it is generally understood in the West. In the West, commentaries tend to emphasize the themes of disobedience, guilt, sin, and remorse, including a fairly heavy hint that the sin of our first parents was somehow sexual in nature–an attitude that would have enormous impact on the development of Western psychology many hundreds of years later. 
For the East, by contrast, the story of Adam and Eve is, at its heart, a story of disintegration, fragmentation, and estrangement. The man and the woman–and the world in which they lived–were torn apart by their behavior, and vast gaps came to exist between God and man, between heaven and earth, between one person and another, between the genders, and finally within the human personality itself. Each and every person is internally fragmented and externally isolated from the outside world, right down to the ultimate depths of his or her being. Fragmentation within the human personality is observed essentially as the division between the mind and the nous or heart. 
Webber expands on this theme of the divorce between the mind and the heart throughout the first two chapters. Explaining that this divorce is where much of our problems lie.
Western psychotherapy is often concerned not only with healing the mind, but also with encouraging patients to come to terms with their feelings and emotions. Moreover, at least in everyday speech, it is assumed that the source of these emotions or feelings is the heart. 
In the East, we can discern another scheme. Here, the one thing that can be said of the mind is that it is divorced from the heart. In this fallen state, it issues a constant stream of logismoi, the torrent of ‘thoughts’ that accompanies our daily lives. However, in a less demonstrable way (the Fathers do not really talk about emotions), the mind is also the source of emotion and feeling. These originate in the mind as logismoi which are then felt, in a reactive way, in the physical body; these reactions are what we call feelings. Feelings then, in fallen man are as broken and unreliable as the thoughts that give them birth.
(--from Daylight Rising blog)
If we are deadened by meaningless sentences droned by obfuscating assassins selling out human compassion, you would think someone would say "Enough!" And fall into silence.
Wherein this silence would reveal sound aching for creative expression, the way ice on wood footbridge longs to drop into melting flow of mountain brook at March's end.