Sinking into the Mystery

Sinking into the Mystery

"What happens when, just for a moment, we stay with our pain, our fear, our doubt, our discomfort, our grief, our broken heart, even our numbness, without trying to change it, or fix it, or numb ourselves to it, or get rid of it in any way? What happens when, even when we feel like leaving, abandoning the moment for the promise of a future salvation, we stay, sitting with the raw, unfiltered, boundlessly alive life-energy that is simply trying to express right now?" ~ Jeff Foster

Barely Noticed

"Often, change doesn't come trumpeting itself in. It comes in quiet, barely noticed ways. No bolts of lightning and grand entrances here. Just a subtle relaxation into the body. A tiny shift towards where you are. An old belief, an outdated story, seen for what it is. A new path emerging in the darkness. A vague, unspeakable hope dawning in the first light of the day you imagined would never come. Everything the same, everything different, everything always resting in motion, and the mysteries of change forever unresolved."

~ Jeff Foster, from The Deepest Acceptance

Illuminated Manuscript

Brian Craig-Wankiiri

Your Body is a Holy Book
by Gil Hedley, from Beyond the Leaving

Your body
is a holy book,
a scripture ~

the pages
of your flesh
are marked
in exquisite detail
with the finest hand,

inscribed by spirit
with the poetry
of love,
lessons of mercy,
angelic hosts,

and the story 
of your life
perfectly told,

an illuminated manuscript 
of a sacred writing 
epic in scope,
and grace.

Every hair
on your head
and line on your face,
every rushing tide
of wind and wave
moving you 
from within
this living testament
bear witness
to the truth
within you ~

Study this text
with conviction then,
reflect with care
upon its meaning,
and enjoy
the divine

Invited to Forget Ourselves

Topiary Park, March 2, 2013

Excerpt from New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton

What is serious to [humans] is often very trivial in the sight of God [aka Nature, Time, Source, Mystery of Life].  What in God might appear to us as "play" is perhaps what God takes the most seriously.  At any rate the Lord plays in the garden of creation, and if we could let go of our own obsession with what we think is the meaning of it all, we might be able to hear God's call and follow in the mysterious, cosmic dance.  We do not have to go very far to catch echoes of that game, and of that dancing.  When we are alone on a starlit night; when by chance we see the migrating birds in autumn descending on a grove of junipers to rest and eat; when we see children in a moment when they are really children; when we know love in our own hearts; or when, like the Japanese poet Basho we hear an old frog land in a quiet pond with a solitary splash -- at such times the awakening, the turning inside out of all values, the "newness," the emptiness and the purity of vision that make themselves evident, provide a glimpse of the cosmic dance.

For the world and time are the dance of the [Source] in emptiness.  The silence of the spheres is the music of a wedding feast.  The more we persist in misunderstanding the phenomena of life, the more we analyze them out into strange finalities and complex purposes of our own, the more we involve ourselves in sadness, absurdity, and despair.  But it does not matter much, because no despair of ours can alter the reality of things, or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always there.  Indeed, we are in the midst of it, and it is in the midst of us, for it beats in our very blood, whether we want it or not.

Yet the fact remains that we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds and join in the general dance.

More Full of Wonder than Your Deepest Dreams

Ian Ruhter/ Wet Plate Collodion 24”x36”/Narcissus /Mammoth Lakes CA /10.15.2011

by Edward Abbey 

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you  beyond that next turning of the canyon walls.

The Truth Must Dazzle Gradually

Hand-Lettered Illustrations of Emily Dickinson’s Poetry b David Clemesha Nursery Rhymes & Fairy Tales

Tell All the Truth But Tell It Slant
by Emily Dickinson 

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant –
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind –

[Thanks Brain Pickings and Al Filreis!]

The Way It Is

“My mother always said, ‘Billy’s never bored.’ All my life I’ve listened to the rain. I think it’s utterly mysterious. Every raindrop falls just once and you only hear it at the end of its fall. . . 

The comets burn out and the black holes disappear. There’s nothing good or bad about that. That’s the way it is. I don’t know where I come from and I don’t know where I’m going and it’s wonderful to be here.”

~ W.S. Merwin, from a conversation with Maggie Galehouse, Houston Chronicle, April 22, 2012

Monday, May 7, 2012

Trying to Penetrate Something that is Deeply Mysterious

Russell Banks in conversation with Michael Silverblatt about his new novel, Lost Memory of Skin, KCRW Bookworm, Oct. 27, 2011:

When I begin to write a novel, and I was particularly conscious of it in this case, what I'm trying to do is penetrate something which is deeply mysterious to me and seems to have meaning to me — that I can't penetrate, I can't take the measure of and can't come to deep understanding of except through the process of writing fiction. Through the kind of discipline and rigor that it requires, the quality of attention it requires of me. Which forces me to be more honest and more attentive, more intelligent than I am at every other time in my life. And so this was a mystery to me. Writing about someone here who is in many important ways — perhaps in the defining ways — different from me. He is the other and I'm trying to inhabit his world, to see the world through his eyes and enter it in order to understand it.

I live in Miami half the year and I have an apartment high up enough with a terrace. And from my terrace I can look out and I can see that causeway -- the Julia Tuttle Causeway -- that crosses over from the mainland, from the island to Miami Beach. And once I knew about this colony of lost souls underneath the causeway, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I coudn't stop wondering about what's inside the mind. I don't understand. I didn't have any real deep insight and the only way I could begin to understand was to dedicate the next three years of my life through the traditions, conditions, demands, rigor, discipline of writing fiction.

...I'm not really trying to predict the future in any sense. I'm actually trying to take the measure of the present and what's directly in front of me. And if that has dire or even good implications for the future, I'm perfectly okay with that. My intention is to try to catch and dramatize and understand what's directly in front of me. What was directly in front of me from my terrace in Miami, were convicted sex offenders who were living under a causeway because they were forced to, because they couldn't live among other human beings. They couldn't live within 2,500 feet of other humans. That was the present to me and the rest of it flowed out of that.

Listen to the entire conversation here...


Clues Everywhere

“I guess the neat thing about all of these tales is, you think when you’re gonna tell a story from the past that the sensible place to go is to go to the library, you go to a fossil, you go to a ruin. But truth is you can go anywhere. The blood coursing through your veins tells you, I have a story for you. Same with a little bit of garbage that sits next to an ancient shoe. You pluck a sheet of paper and Jesus is talking to you – literally. There are clues about the past everywhere. And if there’s a knock on your door and you decide to open it and take a look, who knows what you will find? Who knows where you will go?”  

~ Robert Krulwich, from "Detective Stories," Radiolab, Sep. 10, 2007

Even Empty Space Has a Kind of Structure

Cosmologist and astrophysicist Lord Martin Rees, in conversation with Krista Tippett, from "Cosmic Origami and What We Don't Know," On Being, June 2, 2011:

One of the things we've learned is that in the universe there's obviously stars and galaxies, which are made up of atoms, which as far as we know are just like the atoms we can study in lab. But there is also some stuff out there which is very important because it exerts a strong gravitational force, which is a kind of particle, which we don't know about and haven't yet discovered here on Earth.

So the nature of the so-called dark matter is a big issue for physics and for astronomy at the moment, but there is also another other deeper mystery, which is related to the nature of space itself. There's evidence, which has come about in the last ten years or so that even empty space, when you take away all the dark matter and all the atoms, still exerts a kind of force. It exerts a sort of push or tension on everything.

And this therefore means that even empty space has a kind of structure, and we don't understand that at all. In fact, most of us would guess that empty space does have a structure but on a tiny, tiny scale, a scale a billion, billion times smaller than an atomic nucleus.

And we would have to understand space on that tiny scale to understand its structure. One of the fascinating ideas is that if you could chop up space on a very tiny scale, you would find that what we think of as just a little point in space is actually a tightly wrapped origami of extra dimensions.

We're used to the idea of three dimensions of space, backwards and forwards, left and right, up and down. But if you look at space on a tiny scale, you would find evidence for extra dimensions.

See also: "Martin Rees asks: Is this our final century?" Ted Talks, July 2005

Mystery is the Catalyst for Imagination

"One of the things that I bought at the magic store was this: Tannen's Mystery Magic Box. The premise behind the mystery magic box was the following: 15 dollars buys you 50 dollars worth of magic. Which is a savings. Now, I bought this decades ago...I don't keep everything, but for some reason I haven't opened this box...And I started thinking, why haven't I opened it?

The price of mystery has risen a bit since 1976.And I realized that I haven't opened it because it represents something important -- to me. It represents my grandfather...[and] it represents infinite possibility. It represents hope. It represents potential. And what I love about this box, and what I realize I sort of do in whatever it is that I do, is I find myself drawn to infinite possibility, that sense of potential. And I realize that mystery is the catalyst for imagination. Now, it's not the most ground-breaking idea, but when I started to think that maybe there are times where mystery is more important than knowledge, I started getting interested in this."

~ J.J. Abrams, from "Mystery Box," TED, March 2007

See also: