Saturday, October 21, 2006

An Unfinished Story

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose"
Jim Elliott

I never thought I would ever become anything resembling a 'thinker', let alone someone who actually gets paid (beer money) to put those thoughts on to paper (well, keyboards and then ping them off through cyber-space to an editor) - I was thrown out of English Literature for asking too many questions about Mrs Macbeth's sexual leanings, I became far too animated in my longing to know what she really wanted when she cried, 'un-sex me!' - and most people just assumed I would make it as a rubgy or football player (injuries meant neither were an option).

In the end I turned to the only thing I was good at - the arts

And so here I am thinking about some things far too much, and some things not nearly enough...

Today I have been thinking about Let me explain that one a little. For me the obvious theological centre is the incarnation, and I wonder if this was a kind of hotmail address that Jesus had during his 30 odd years here? Think about it - he's a long way from home and just maybe he picked up messages using this email? Too far fetched? I'm not so sure...

The Kingdom of God is exactly that - heaven, here now and present. C.S. Lewis alludes to this in his remarkable work, 'The Great Divorce' - that heaven is an intensification of life rather than an abstraction from it. If that is so, finding heaven isn't about waiting until we die for some etheral nirvana, but having our eyes opened to what is already here.

'Thin places' (like Iona and Greenbelt) are spots where heaven becomes easier to experience through some sort of warp in the divine force field. God is present everywhere and anywhere - heaven is all around us - even in and through the mundane and dare I say it, the profane.

Faith therefore does not involve an escape or withdrawal from life, but a radical plunge into it and love for it. Because of creation and the incarnation the earth is sacred. It is the womb and the dreaming of the hopes of God, and so it is that we must honour the earth and respect it by the way we tend it. Not only would I say that heaven is in earth but that after the ascension, earth is in heaven: the risen Christ has nail holes in his hands and a scar in his side from a spear - in truth, humanity is now a very real and visible part of the Godhead

The eucharist is one way of making this visible - the fact that earthly life is suffered with heavenly glory - perhaps we should stop hoping for the end of history when God will call 'a wrap', and start working with God in transforming history, here and now - midwives, if you like.

Just maybe we won't eventually go to live where God is, but rather that God has already moved to where we are and is planning to stick around until earth becomes heaven - Who knows, is that heresy or is it that, maybe, I think too much

Whatever, as we journey we have 3 options
i, to be alive and thirsty
ii, to be dead
iii, to be addicted

There are no other choices. Most of the world lives in addiction; most of the church has chosen to be dead. Followers of the carpenter are called to a life of longing....


Suzanna said...

Okay! somewhere, someone is saying it! I am feverish with this thirst today and really quite upset with God for the rock/hard place I am in. how often i wonder what kind of thinker he has made me be to long for what is only seen in wombs and on the other side of thin places. I am sorry for the heat that produced this writing for you. But we all comfort each other, looking deeply into each others eyes, trying to see the love we need. In my comfort for you, may I be comforted.
What is He doing?
I met Brennan Manning yesterday.
".....Abba....i belong to you....."

mister tumnus said...

did you catch john bell's talk on heaven at greenbelt? it was one of the few i managed to get to. purty good.

thank you suzanna and paul. your faith is intercessory. i wish you were both here.

Bar Bar A said...

Wow. This is just what I needed to read tonight. I'm so glad I found you (through awareness). I'm going to ponder what you wrote. I want to be thirsty.

Bar Bar A said...

P.S. You have excellent taste in music!

Mata H said...

I love the comment by CSLewis that the kingdom of God is like a series of concentric circles, and the closer one gets to the center -- the larger the circles become.

These 'thin places' you mention are made thin by 'intentionality', methinks. Wherever 2 or 3 are gathered in His name, magic does happen. Intentionally contemplative space feels different from just a quiet room. Places like old monestaries that have been drenched in prayer over centuries literally have a different emotional texture.

We are on the Holy Highway when we 'get it' that the kingdom is not a prize and not a vacation resort of the future. We confuse the Kindgom of God and a trophy or the Kingdom of God and Disneyland.

God is just so much more involved in things than that -- too much stitched up in the seams of our lives to just hold off his kingdom from us. You love your children, Can you imagine telling them that they won't get your best love until they jump through hoops or until the world ends? Not flipping likely!! They mnay need to grow to appreciate the magnitude of your love, to learn its ins and outs and its nuances, but they are not without its fullest expression, ever.

I think a lot of folks imagine God to be so unapproachably HUGE and distant, so judgemental and legalistic that they lose grasp of what it is to be loved by God, purely and utterly loved. Then they lose the moments when they could lean into and grow from that love...(not that I have ever done that..nope..nuh uh..not me..nope.)

Awareness said...

Fortunately, you are a thinker..... one whom I believe may just allow others to use their noggins by contemplating over your expressed thoughts....and either commenting or adding to them.

Thinkers churn out possibilities by sharing their own perspectives. So, here are my thoughts on your ideas....

I love the idea that Jesus would have a website. He would also have been a blogger. Maybe he is......

Thin slices of heaven are everywhere. It's awareness and acceptance of this idea that allows one to see that God is hanging out with us on planet earth. The more I delve into acceptance of my faith, the more I feel this. I was dismissive for a very long time, but finally open to the prospect that there is a higher power......that we are not alone in our struggles.

Heaven is shown to us in the sunrise every morning. Heaven is shown to us in the times when we look around and all of a sudden we realize that everyone we love the most are sitting in the same room.....even the ones who have passed on......

I fully agree with Mata h.......God is in the seams of our lives.

It's marvellous to be able to play rugby.........but it's WAY better to be the one asking the teacher about the sex bits in Shakespeare and shaking up the class thinking!

BTW.....My fav. English teacher in high school? She always approached a new Shakespearean play by introducing us to the sex bits first. Once she got our attention, she moved on into the story! :)

Niki said...

Ha my english literature teacher only got the class to read 'Birdsong' by pointing out the sex bits. It's a phenomenal book - read it everyone - and not just for the scene in the red room...

I don't want to be dead, right now I am addicted and one day I want to be thirsty. I just feel like an apathetic 17 year old who just spent far too much in HMV.

Did you make reference to Iona in Scotland - the gorgeous little island? That place is where I'm supposed to be.

And Paul that comment you made on the last thread about religion being for people afraid of hell etc - that was beautiful, thank you.

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

Loving the comments....manic day, will respond to your intercessions later with wine...

The Meaning Weakened by the Lies said...

I agree 100% about religion being for those afraid of hell, and I would argue with anyone who dares insinuate that I am in any way religious, but there has been the odd occasion where the fear of hell has been the only thing keeping me close to god. Its not a pretty place to be.

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

ok, so for the record i am not drinking wine at 7am, just coffee - just too tired when i got in last night....needed to get that straight

'only seen in wombs and on the other side of thin places' - that's going to keep me going for some time...
....and you met the marvellous Brennan - speechless you have rendered me

wish i was in your fair city too - will have to remedy that soon. sadly didn't get to any of dear father bell's talks this year - but do intend to download them from Gb site - if i can ever work out how!

bar bar a,
thanks for the compliments - glad my musings are helpful to someone, and that my eclectic taste resonates with you too

as ever your wisdom and insight is treasured - i particularly like the comment about places having different emotional textures - sometimes they are almost so physical you have to brush them from your face..., nope, er me neither!

sadly i don't think my intention was to shake things up - more like reek havoc!
Your must be kind and easily pleased regarding my rambled thoughts, thank you. I particularly love your, 'Heaven is shown to us in the times when we look around and all of a sudden we realize that everyone we love the most are sitting in the same room.....even the ones who have passed on......'

I like the idea my gran is still around....even now, i need my ass kicking every now and then!

Birdsong is a fantastic read - couldn't bring myself to watch the film!! So, HMV, not been in yet - any good? would feel as though i was betraying No. 19
Iona is that amazing little 'thin' place off the scottish coast - you should try and go spend some time there if you haven't already...i think it would be a healing time
....glad the comment found its way into your soul

I do know what you mean about fear - i was raised in a tradition that revelled in it! but more recently i have started to read the words in a different way - hence, wonder, mystery, attraction, fear and danger have all become vital signposts to the gateway of an awe-filled encounter with God. I raised this in conversation with a rather conservative evangelical leader recently, and he was rather concerned with, in his words, ‘my fascination with fear’. I tried to explain, but with little success, that the reason I believed fear was so healthy was that it was the doorway to love. To say he was mystified at this suggestion is an understatement.

I learned this though from my friend, Rabbi Niles Goldstein. He suggests that internal fear comes from love, and that wisdom is called fear since one fears to enter the divider of keter (understood as that which is below or dark – wilderness, if you like). So consequently, as the Hasidic mystic Yaakov Yosef suggests, the letters of fear (yirah) serve as the beginning of the letters to love. My limited understanding of this lesson is that it teaches us that the ‘fear of the Lord’ draws us into the agape love of God, and from that love we enter into internal fear.

Now it was this particular point my evangelical leader friend couldn’t grasp – everything within him understood this fear as a negative force rather than a positive one. But my point, and more importantly the Bible’s point, is that this fear of God (which we are told is the beginning of wisdom: Psalm 111:10) is a healthy part of life, which we should embrace, because its gift to us is the knowledge of our own insufficiency, and so consequently this sets us on a path of humility (filled with questions) rather than arrogance (where we are full of answers), into the heart of God. However, to just bring philosophical hope to the table of the spiritual refugee is not particularly helpful. We need to add flesh to the bare bones of the argument. Soren Kierkegaard called God ‘the absolute frontier’. He believed that it sometimes does take a journey to the wild to locate the spiritual nourishment we long for.

Niki said...

HMV is ok for cheap DVDs and CDs you don't love but just want to waste a few quid on. No 19 is where I've always shopped for music that I love, and I will continue to.
Iona yes, I went there in February whilst staying with some friends in Glasgow, I could stay there for a very long time.

Ellen said...

If you think too much, it all to our benefit that you shared so well.

I have always thought that God is all around us... in everything we do, see, and feel. He is in the way we treat our fellow man, and the way we help one another through this journey called life. I don't go to any qualified church, as a matter of fact, I am a lapsed Catholic, and now agnostic. I feel it tends to make me think more of the beauty (God) around us rather than have it thought out for us.

Your paragraph concerning faith sums up the very thoughts I have about life. It is indeed a plunging into and love of living.

Very well written.

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

I will pop by today and see if there's some 'brat pack' dvd like 'the breakfast club' that will accompany my take-out and wine this evening!

Glad you stopped by, as i have your site - cyber community is a strange concept - one that has it's limitations, but one i am warming to. I look forward to sharing an agnostic lapsed catholics journey

Awareness said...

Hi Paul.....

I was just about to leave a comment on today's post...and it's gone. It was beautiful. What happened to it? Where did the Divine Voice go? :)

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

will put it back....thank you