Sunday, January 16, 2011

Infinite Depth

One morning in bed, which is where and when the best insights come, this phrase “Infinite Depth” came to me. Another term for what we call “God.” Out of that depth come all creative ideas, an infinite variety of physical forms, answers to intellectual questions, solutions to problems, and so on and on and on. The wisdom of this Depth comes to us because it’s within us. It’s the Within.
Teilhard de Chardin teaches us that consciousness and matter are aspects of the same reality, the Within and the Without of things. Evolution of all forms physical and spiritual is a progression in consciousness—humans are increasingly more conscious of our own consciousness, more aware of our own Within.

But we fail when we try to capture it in words because words refer to individual ideas, and the Within is beyond any individuals. There’s a story that an Eastern sage tried to express the inexpressibility of what we call “God” by saying something like this: Think of all the ideas and objects that exist or could exist—this could go on forever—and after each thought, ask, “Is this God?” Always we answer, “No, not this.” The Source is beyond all and yet Within all. The second part of that has largely been missed in Western religion.

In Christianity the apophatic tradition appreciates the Within, but our liturgy perpetuates misconceptions with its insistent, boring, misleading repetition of “He” and "Lord" and "Father." I keep mentioning them because, in the present reactionary climate, deleting them or at least lessening their use would be the simplest way to educate humanity about God’s transcendence.

In public discussions about “God,” it is assumed to be an individual entity, a somebody with humanlike thoughts and will, a person or thing separate from us and the rest of creation. And so the misunderstanding persists. Public discourse about religion focuses on externals such as church attendance and religious teachings and which religion attracts more adherents.

The common purpose of all religions—to mediate the Within of things—gets no press. Unfortunate.


SHE  WHO  IS     March 17, 2016

The Creator/Source of All That Is and Could Be is portrayed by traditional religions in ways that do not comport with present-day knowledge and awareness. I recommend Elizabeth A. Johnson's bookShe Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse for a differgent view.



These poems also say it better than I could.


We must not portray you in King's robes,
you drifting mist that brought forth the morning.
You are like a web or you are like a tree
or you are a forest through which I run,
or you are a herd of luminous deer
and I am forest and dark
and you run through me.
                                               
Rainer Maria Rilke (trans. Joanna Macy)


Offering from a Catholic Sister

Did the woman say,
When she held him for the first time in the dark dank of a stable,
After the pain and the bleeding and the crying,
“This is my body, this is my blood”?

Did the woman say,
When she held him for the last time in the dark rain on a hilltop,
After the pain and the bleeding and the dying,
“This is my body, this is my blood”?

Well that she said it to him then,
For dry old men,
Brocaded robes belying barrenness,
Ordain that she not say it to him now.

--Sister Frances Croake Frank

Books recommended by Bp. Regina Nicolosi from the forum The Feminine Face of God
                      March 13, 2011

The first time this next poem stirred me, we were having Mass in a living room. The presider sat cross-legged on the floor in front of a small, draped coffee table. The rest of us were comfortable on chairs, floor, or whatever. The “homily” developed in reflections from whoever was inspired to speak, and prayer petitions likewise.
We passed around the plate and cup, breaking off pieces of the bread for each other. Ritually we became bread broken for each other, as each of us received from one and gave to the next. Then this poem:

BAKERWOMAN GOD

Bakerwoman God,
I am your living bread.
Strong, brown Bakerwoman God,
I am your low, soft, and being-
shaped loaf.
I am your rising
bread, well-kneaded
by some divine and knotty
pair of knuckles,
by your warm earth hands.
I am bread well-kneaded.

Put me in fire, Bakerwoman God,
put me in your own bright fire.

I am warm, warm as you from fire.
I am white and gold, soft and hard,
brown and round.
I am so warm from fire.

Break me, bakerwoman God.
I am broken under your caring Word.
Drop me in your special juice in pieces.
Drop me in your blood.
Drunken me in the great red flood.
Self-giving chalice swallow me.
My skin shines in the divine wine.
My face is cup-covered and I drown.

I fall up
in a red pool
in a gold world
where your warm
sunskin hand
is there to catch
and hold me.
Bakerwoman God,
remake me.

  Alla Bozarth-Campbell



The Creator/Source of All that Is and Could Be is portrayed by traditional religions in ways that do not comport with present-day knowledge and awareness. These poems say it better than I could.


We must not portray you in King's robes,
you drifting mist that brought forth the morning.
You are like a web or you are like a tree
or you are a forest through which I run,
or you are a herd of luminous deer
and I am forest and dark
and you run through me.
                                               
Rainer Maria Rilke (trans. Joanna Macy)


Her Faith Is Mine  February 12, 2016

Since the 1990s I have communicated with German relatives at Christmas time. This last December Eva Igelmund wrote that their tulips were rising from the ground, almond trees were starting to bloom, and birds didn't know if they should stay or go south. I laughed upon reading this, but it also is sad and frightening to see predictions of global warming that I read decades ago come to pass.

In a later email she reported that the forecast for Christmas weekend called for 62 º F. Germany lies at a slightly higher latitude than Minnesota’s, but western Europe is warmed by the Atlantic Gulf Stream. Minnesota reaches temperature extremes because it is in the middle of a continent. Lake Superior is the closest large moderating body of water. Because of Eva's news I was actually glad that winter returned to Minnesota in January after an unusually warm December.

Eva summarized her relationship with religion and in doing so summarized mine. She gave me permission to translate her German words into English. Describing herself as a free spirit, she writes,
Although born and bred Catholic and from earliest childhood interested in spirituality, I began to question as a young child. Or did I perhaps question for that reason?

I read extensively and tried many paths, stayed away from the Catholic Church for a time, but never from God. Since then I have made my peace with the institution, knowing that its officials have the faults and weaknesses of us all.
I live an intense life of faith, celebrating daily worship by maintaining contact with the Creator/Jesus/God/One Source of all Being. From day to day, the face of this power shifts as my moods shift, depending on my experiences and sources of inspiration.

My childhood image of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, now gives way to images more diffuse, ineffable, exalted, unbelievably near and trusted, but formless Being. Whatever the form imagined, uniting with it brings solace, power, joy, confidence and hope.
Eva’s words delight me, as they could be my own confession of faith. She states my thoughts and feelings as if she were in my mind. That she says them in German intensifies their meaning for me and the pleasure of having words convey thoughts.

If anyone would like to see Eva’s statement in German, email me. Hit the contact button at godisnot3guys.com 

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Only meditating on the Within makes one's religion like a bird with only one wing. Our meditating to be true to reality needs to be informed by the God Without who has been and is being revealed to the Within by the Word of God (the Bible),the Son of God (Jesus Christ) and the Spirit of God (aka known as the Holy Spirit).

thinkaboutit said...

Another failure of religions.....to bring about communication...., to be the medium with the Divine. Religion has done more to separate me from the Divine Within, than secularism and materialism.
Western religions only leave room for their telling and interpetations of the myths of what they perceive as the Truth. That truth rarely touches on the inner path to the Divine. It doesn't seem to have time as it is too busy being RIGHT.

Jeanette said...

I would like readers to know that Teilhard de Chardin was a paleontologist, a Jesuit, and a mystic renowned far beyond Catholicism for his elegant descriptions of the Within and the Without.
These comments illustrate the need for spiritual systems to respect each individual's unique way of envisioning spiritual reality.