Monday, September 27, 2010

In the middle of the way....

I get intrigued by questions.  Indeed the genesis of this blog dates back to a question.  And so many of my early memories relate to questions I had as a child, things that intrigued me or puzzled me.  So I know it's a trait that has been with me pretty much all my life.

Right now there are several questions I'm pursuing.   And it's led me to literally start a couple more blogs in order to organize my thinking, my writing - or at least attempt to do that.  So, just in case you were wondering...  In my mind this blog, Nothingness, is more or less related to my personal experiences and speculations on them.  Memories.  Stepping stones along a spiritual path.  Poetry about that.  Attempts to analyze or plumb the depths of what it all might mean or where it points.  And while some may read here with interest I really have no need to gather readers, unless it may be helpful to others in some way.  Nor, as I make clear on the sidebar, do I claim any special "standing" except as it relates to my own efforts to understand, feeling my way, as it were, in the darkness or sometimes in flashes of insight.  So pretty much what I write here (with a few exceptions) relates to experiences of long ago, things I have pondered much, experiences which have shaped me and led me to press on, like a child would trail along behind a parent, pursuing Holy Mystery, that Presence that has been with me, I am sure, all my life, which gives my life meaning yet plunges it into Mystery, into the Holy Nothingness where Mystery arises within.

Questions.  Yes, I get intrigued by them.  For whatever reason I'm not content with easy answers.  And I'm not content unless somehow any "answers" - even if I ultimately arrive at "it's a Mystery" - fit my own experience and dovetail with revealed Truth as written in the scriptures and in the lives and writings of those who have staked everything - way more than I have - on the veneration and single-minded devotion to Holy Mystery.  And that includes holy souls of other faiths.  For as scripture tells us, with regard to Holy Wisdom:
in every generation she passes into holy souls
and makes them friends of God, and prophets;
So I have dipped into other traditions - always maintaining one cardinal caution, keeping to the main paths or the mystical routes of such paths, routes trodden over the centuries by single-hearted monks and nuns and solitaries, those willing to go beyond words and concepts and images and certainly beyond any fame or fortune.  And this has fascinated me since childhood - where I had two favorite picture books, one of every type of musical instrument, the other of the world's religions, in which I pondered over and over photos of religious worshipers or ceremonies, drinking in the sense of the sacred.

So, although titled Nothingness, here I ponder the stepping stones calling me into this unknown territory, leaving pebbles so to speak, in the darkness or the deep wood or the desert or as digging into a deep well or climbing a high mountain or as climbing a ladder toward the heavens in which the rungs have long disappeared into the clouds but still one must keep climbing...  And I ponder as well certain well-known stories from scripture whose depths or meaning I can never truly plumb or understand, images such as the burning bush, the scene of Abraham with the 3 angelic visitors, the image of Christ washing the feet of his disciples, the disciples on the road to Emmaus, as well as certain verses from the scriptures and holy souls.

And the two new blogs?  Well, both spring from one poem which I've posted here on this blog, a poem which came as a description in one sense of my work as a therapist, but in another sense as a means of expressing how plumbing the depth of relationship in order to promote the growth of another requires one's deepest commitment to one's own inner growth of the most rigorous sort and thus bears on our relationship with Ultimate Mystery.  Yet the reason for the blogs sprang from a nagging question ... which seemed to branch off, one path into what does it mean to grow into the priesthood of one's Baptism?  And the other, what is the inner prayer of this priesthood, the prayer of the heart?  And I had those questions, not just for personal reasons but also because of some things I ran across on the web, which bothered me like a burr under my saddle, which I had to deal with.

And now I've run into another question which intrigues me, partly for the same "burr under the saddle" reason.  And I think this new question actually relates to the two I just referenced.  For it relates to how do we name God?  And what does that Name refer to?  How does calling on the Name transform us?  Must we name God?  What has been the tradition of that naming?  And what about the fact of so many languages and even holy traditions, each naming God differently?  Or not, as in most traditions of Buddhism.  And if not, what is named instead?  What is this Mystery which both transcends us and calls within us?  Whom we "call upon" in the Prayer of the Heart - whom we perhaps are transfigured "into" in this priesthood.  Where Wisdom (however you name it) enters holy souls.

Now I'm not going to start another blog to answer this (most recent) question - which, of course, likely has no answer other than:  It's a Mystery.  But I'm flagging it.  For I will be pondering it. As I pursue these other questions.  As I try to write out what seems to have taken over my life.  And while I won't be discarding everything and wandering off to live in a cave or the woods, still I can't envision any other future for myself - unless I one day become senile, and that would be the ultimate in giving up everything, wouldn't it?  For that indeed would be the death of my Self, one step only, it seems to me, before the giving up of my very Life on this earth.

And yes, in case you're wondering, the title is an allusion to Dante's Divine Comedy.


San Fernando Curt said...

One that has plagued me since childhood: Why did the age of miracles end? I know there are metaphorical miracles in our everyday life. But I'm talking about the big ones: parting the sea, stopping the sun in the sky, raising the dead, etc. Whatever God might be, we know this about Him (or Her): Divine perfection is fluid. It's flexible. It changes over time.

TheraP said...

Boy, Curt, that is a good question. Maybe in our modern day we view miracles differently. Hagiography is harder to do. Or maybe it's something else that "convinces" people. Maybe internals, rather than externals. Or could be no one is out there collecting the miraculous or the mysterious. As a therapist I've certainly heard things - which I count as true. And my belief is that the miracles of the past are more in the vein of Truth as Myth - as something you believe because while it maybe didn't happen "exactly" that way, the way it's recalled and transmitted provides a Truth about its effects which couldn't be conveyed any other way.

I can surely say that any experience that one has of Divine Presence suddenly "breaking into" one's mundane existence bears the quality of a miracle. But who could verify that? And I've also had experiences where someone else "felt" that my presence, or in one case it was "touch" in a hospital had effected "something". His reaction to me: "You have healing hands... When you put your hand on my head... I felt something...and I don't even believe in things like this!" That actually kinda scared me.

Wish I could answer the question. But as I've often said... a question is a very good place to start.