Faith is the affirmation and appreciation of what is here and what is coming to be.
What is — is the mystery — insinuating and surrounding.
We begin again.
We are always beginning.
Believe nothing. Have faith in everything.
"What to do?" That's what the columnist asked at end of his piece about the rotting of the mind of a particular political persuasion.
In my family "handsome is as handsome does" echoed. These days the words "stupid" or "cynical" are substituted.
The social and economic segregation of college to non-college is off the mark. I think it is more a matter of consciousness over epistemology. How so?
Inquiry and curiosity are not proprietary to academic status. They are the willingness of the soul and mind to wonder. "What is this?" they ask. "How does this fit with that?"
People consider themselves believers. Politicians pander to beliefs. Beliefs appropriate facts into the believers brand of belief.
Theologian Karl Rahner suggested we should stop using the word "God" for 50 years because we do not know what we are really talking about.
For Rahner, God is “the final word before wordless and worshipful silence in the face of the ineffable mystery.” (--from Foundations of Christian Faith, by Karl Rahner, 1978)
God isn't the problem for people. Mystery is the problem. We think we know, our beliefs say so. Rather, the world, despite what we know, is a mystery.
And here is where both college and non-college educated people falter and fail. We will grab on to anything in the name of belief rather than stare unknowing into the face of mystery.
Some koans are difficult to penetrate.
For which I am grateful.
God give you pardon from gratitude
and other mild forms of servitude
and make peace for all of us
with what is easy.
(Poem by Robert Creeley)
Pardon is the action of forgiving or being forgiven for an error or offense.
If all are forgiven, is there any offense?
Is God, what is, easy?
I wandered through this book in younger years. His fierce anguish intrigued me.
WE COME from a dark abyss, we end in a dark abyss, and we call the luminous interval life. As soon as we are born the return begins, at once the setting forth and the coming back; we die in every moment. Because of this many have cried out: The goal of life is death! But as soon as we are born we begin the struggle to create, to compose, to turn matter into life; we are born in every moment. Because of this many have cried out: The goal of ephemeral life is immortality! In the temporary living organism these two streams collide: (a) the ascent toward composition, toward life, toward immortality; (b) the descent toward decomposition, toward matter, toward death. Both streams well up from the depths of primordial essence. Life startles us at first; it seems somewhat beyond the law, somewhat contrary to nature, somewhat like a transitory counteraction to the dark eternal fountains; but deeper down we feel that Life is itself without beginning, an indestructible force of the Universe. Otherwise, from where did that superhuman strength come which hurls us from the unborn to the born and gives us - plants, animals, men - courage for the struggle? But both opposing forces are holy. It is our duty, therefore, to grasp that vision which can embrace and harmonize these two enormous, timeless, and indestructible forces, and with this vision to modulate our thinking and our action.
First Step: THE EGO
1. I AM NOT good, I am not innocent, I am not serene. My happiness and unhappiness are both unbearable; I am full of inarticulate voices and darknesses; I wallow, all blood and tears, in this warm trough of my flesh.
2. I am afraid to talk. I adorn myself with false wings; I shout, I sing and I weep to drown out the inexorable cry of my heart.
3. I am not the light, I am the night; but a flame stabs through my entrails and consumes me. I am the night devoured by light.
4. Imperiled, moaning and staggering in darkness, I strive to shake myself free from sleep and to stand erect for a while, for as long as I can bear.
5. A small but undaunted breath within me struggles desperately to vanquish happiness, weariness, death.
6. I put my body through its paces like a war horse; I keep it lean, sturdy, prepared. I harden it and I pity
it. I have no other steed.
7. I keep my brain wide awake, lucid, unmerciful. I unleash it to battle relentlessly so that, all light, it may
devour the darkness of the flesh. I have no other workshop where I may transform darkness into light.
8. I keep my heart flaming, courageous, restless. I feel in my heart all commotions and all contradictions, the joys and sorrows of life. But I struggle to subdue them to a rhythm superior to that of the mind,
harsher than that of my heart - to the ascending rhythm of the Universe.
9. The Cry within me is a call to arms. It shouts: "I, the Cry, am the Lord your God! I am not an asylum. I
am not hope and a home. I am not the Father nor the Son nor the Holy Ghost. I am your General!
10. "You are not my slave, nor a plaything in my hands. You are not my friend, you are not my child. You
are my comrade-in-arms!
11. "Hold courageously the passes which I entrusted to you; do not betray them. You are in duty bound,
and you may act heroically by remaining at your own battle station.
12. "Love danger. What is most difficult? That is what I want! Which road should you take? The most
craggy ascent! It is the one I also take: follow me!
13. "Learn to obey. Only he who obeys a rhythm superior to his own is free.
14. "Learn to command. Only he who can give commands may represent me here on earth.
15. "Love responsibility. Say: It is my duty, and mine alone, to save the earth. If it is not saved, then I alone
am to blame.'
16. "Love each man according to his contribution in the struggle. Do not seek friends; seek comrades-in-
17. "Be always restless, unsatisfied, unconforming. Whenever a habit becomes convenient, smash it! The
greatest sin of all is satisfaction.
18. "Where are we going? Shall we ever win? What is the purpose of all this fighting? Be silent! Soldiers
19. I stoop and listen to this war cry within me. I begin to discern the face of my Leader, to distinguish his
voice, to accept harsh commands with joy and terror.
20. Yes, yes, I am NOT nothing! A vaporous phosphorescence on a damp meadow, a miserable worm that
crawls and loves, that shouts and talks about wings for an hour or two until his mouth is blocked with
earth. The dark powers give no other answer.
21. But within me a deathless Cry, superior to me, continues to shout. For whether I want to or not, I am
also, without doubt, a part of the visible and the invisible Universe. We are one. The powers which labor within me, the powers which goad me on to live, the powers which goad me on to die are, without doubt, its own powers also.
22. I am not a suspended, rootless thing in the world. I am earth of its earth and breath of its breath.
23. I am not alone in my fear, nor alone in my hope, nor alone in my shouting. A tremendous host, an
onrush of the Universe fears, hopes, and shouts with me.
24. I am an improvised bridge, and when Someone passes over me, I crumble away behind Him. A
Combatant passes through me, eats my flesh and brain to open up roads, to free himself from me at last. It is not I but He who shouts.
Second Step: THE RACE
1. THE CRY IS not yours. It is not you talking, but innumerable ancestors talking with your mouth. It is not you who desire, but innumerable generations of descendants longing with your heart.
2. Your dead do not lie in the ground. They have become birds, trees, air. You sit under their shade, you are nourished by their flesh, you inhale their breathing. They have become ideas and passions, they determine your will and your actions.
3. Future generations do not move far from you in an uncertain time. They live, desire, and act in your loins and your heart.
Finally, this from Wikipedia:
Ascesis: The Saviors of God (Greek and Latin: Ασκητική. Salvatores dei) is a series of "spiritual exercises" written by Greek author Nikos Kazantzakis. It was first written between 1922 and 1923, while staying in Vienna and Berlin, and subsequently published in 1927 in the Athenian magazine Anayennisi (Renaissance). The text was later revised on various occasions and reached its final state in 1944. (Wikipedia)
By W. S. Merwin
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you
with the animals dying around us
taking our feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
thank you we are saying and waving
dark though it is
(Poem by W.S. Merwin, "Thanks" from Migration: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2005 by W.S. Merwin.)
... ... ...
THE NEW SONG
For some time I thought there was time
and that there would always be time
for what I had a mind to do
and what I could imagine
going back to and finding it
as I had found it the first time
but by this time I do not know
what I thought when I thought back then
there is no time yet it grows less
there is the sound of rain at night
arriving unknown in the leaves
once without before or after
then I hear the thrush waking
at daybreak singing the new song
(Poem byW.S. Merwin, from The Moon Before Morning, Copper Canyon Press, 2014)
Three things and an epilogue:
If the metaphor changed, what would this final Sunday of liturgical year be called?
Not “Christ the King of the Universe”. Kings seem antiquated. Monarchy feels awkward in America. We are just deposing our wannabe.
What would it be?
Il Cristo Finito!
The feast of Il Cristo Finito.
Fifty seven.years ago President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed. A sad time. A sad act. A sad way to confound.
May we never experience such an ugliness again!
Murder doesn’t just eliminate the victim from the obvious-living. It scars the face of the present and the future. It cannot not always be seen and felt.
We play the Mass of Saint Cecilia by Gounod. There is a fit between her feast day, the music, the still visible scar of assassination, and Sunday Evening Practice listening to the Tricycle talk on Awakening the Fierce Feminine by Pamela Weiss.
We’d walked Rockport harbor, sat on the rocks, and meditated on the cohesion of land and water, the easy harmony and identity of soft and hard, in and out, heaven and earth. We walk. This way. Together.
Il Cristo Finito is the afterword (after-word) of the earth, the galaxy, and universe.
There is nowhere else to go from inside an owls call.
You, it, and everything is there.
Until and unless what is there isn’t.