Thursday, September 23, 2010

In The Image of God

Every so often I come across something on the Internet that I experience as so moving that, for me, it's a religious experience, and act of worship to watch it. This is such a thing.

A friend of mine posted it on FaceBook, and in my comment to her I said that such things give rise in me to two immediate thoughts. The first is that while I know that we humans are capable of acts of unspeakable barbarity and unimaginable cruelty, when I see something like this I am reminded that we're capable of incredible beauty and wonder as well, and I am given hope once again. 

And then I think that perhaps these things give us a glimpse into the meaning of the words, "made in the image of God." We cannot create the Grand Canyon, or a supernova, or mitochondrial DNA, but we can take an oversized hula hoop, the sounds of a piano and a cello, and a warehouse floor, and create, this:

How does someone "see" this before it's been done?  Surely no one has ever done anything quite like it.  This performer was literally creating a new performance style.  So how did he develop it?

And, for that matter, how did Beethoven "hear" the 9th Symphony?  Or how did Van Gogh "see" the Starry Night?

"We are made in the image of God."  That means, as I understand it, that we are compassionate, loving, wise, and creative.
Every so often I come across something on the Internet that I experience as so moving that, for me, it's a religious experience, and act of worship to watch it. Amen.

In Gassho,


Monday, September 20, 2010

For All The Saints

During the Battle of Pamplona in 1521 the Spanish nobleman and knight Ignatius of Loyola was seriously injured.  (A cannonball injured one leg severely and broke the other.)  During his long and painful convalescence he read De Vita Christi by Ludolph of Saxony as well as stories of the lives of the saints.  Through his reading he was converted from a desire to be a great knight to a desire to be a great saint, and during this period he began to develop many of the principles that would later be organized in his famous Exercises.

Throughout her life, the great mystic Theresa of Avila, who produced such classics as The Interior Castle, was tormented by extremely serious illnesses.  Some of these lasted for years, and it was during some of these intense times of sickness that she had her deepest spiritual experiences.

Last month I fell down the basement stairs and broke my right proximal humerus into three pieces.  I needed a surgeon to screw it back together for me.  During my convalescence, though, unlike Theresa and Ignatius, I've had Oxycodone and Vicodin to help moderate the pain.  (And help me to sleep through the night.)  And I've had TV, and On Demand movies, and the Internet, and FaceBook to keep me stimulated.

What would have happened if Francis had had Twitter in Assisi?  Or if Hildagarde had had an iPad in Bingen?  Perhaps they would have headed the call anyway.  Even in their day there were ways, as my teachers at Shalem said, to get "kidnapped," but they managed to stay true to the call.  Yet it seems as though there is exponentially more noise today, more distractions, more side paths, dead ends, calling for our attention.

So I've decided to try to take advantage of the opportunity my broken shoulder has afforded me.  I am, thankfully, able to work again already, but not yet full time.  So in my "off" time, rather than turning on a lot of electronics I'm opening up a series of books I'd collected a while ago, intending to use them in a parish setting.  Now I'll use them on my own.  They're called, Bridges to Contemplative Living With Thomas Merton, and I'm finding the program to be quite rich even though I am doing it alone.  I've also entered into relationship with a Spiritual Director again, after many years away.

There is so much clutter, and so little time.  Or, rather, there is only now . . . and I want to make the most of it.

In Gassho,