Thursday, February 4, 2010

On the threshold of the invisible

I've never (to my knowledge) actually seen a muskrat, though I could, of course, google them to see what they look like. But as I was coming back from walking the dog on the beach a couple of days ago, I was greeted by this log, and somehow I just wanted to call it "Muskrat Log," after that old Captain and Tenille song.

What has always fascinated me about driftwood is the way so many different kinds of shapes and colors, ideas and expressions, seemed to reveal themselves in the logs. It was in my early efforts to capture that aspect of nature, I suspect, that I first discovered the joy of being present, paying attention to my surroundings; it was also the beginning of my love affair with the camera, which not only allowed me to pay attention, but also gave me feedback on what I was actually seeing -- because lots of times I didn't see what the logs were telling me until after the photos came back from the developer.

So this morning, when I was reading John O'Donohue's book, Eternal Echoes, and the section heading was "the invisible world is all around us," I couldn't help thinking of the driftwood; of the sense that it contained within it all the patterns of the world, and had the potential to be so much more than it appeared to be at first glance. But when I read further, I came to see that that invisible potential lives in -- and inspires -- us as well.

"Within us and around us there is an invisible world; this is where each of us comes from...When you cross over from the invisible into this physical world, you bring with you a sense of belonging to the invisible that you can never lose or finally cancel...You know your real life is happening here. Yet your longing for the invisible is never stilled. There is always some magnet that draws your eyes to the horizon or invites you to explore behind things and seek out the concealed depths...

This tension infuses your life with longing. Now you belong fully neither to the visible nor to the invisible. This is precisely what kindles and rekindles all your longing and your hunger to belong. You are both artist and pilgrim of the threshold...the invisible remains the great background which invests your every gesture and action with possibility and pathos. The artistic imagination brings this out."

That infinite potential lives within each of us; that longing to be part of that larger world that lies beyond the obvious. And it expresses itself, not only in what we create, but in what we project onto the lives around us -- which, of course, is both how we fall into love and how we fall out of it; how we fall into situations and later extricate ourselves: so much of what we see and do is colored by the invisible thought processes and longings that happen within us.

So then I went to the Thomas reading for this morning. And it, too, addresses the invisible. But it touches a different aspect of the invisible: that part of you that can't be touched, that is invulnerable and triumphant, even in the midst of persecution. And reading of that, I think of my blogging friend, Louise, whose indomitable spirit survived such a hideously abusive relationship; and of the stories emerging from Haiti, of the extraordinary faith and courage of these survivors who have lost so much.

It's a poignant reminder that there is much more to life than the either the simple comforts and pleasures or the painful challenges we face in the here and now.

Good to know.


Maureen said...

That invisible part of us that you speak of at the end, that is what I marvel at; that no matter how much we are ground down, it's in that untouchable place where faith abides takes that we get pushed back up.

M.L. Gallagher said...

Hello Diane,

I am in the midst of the Course in Miracles and one of the things they teach is -- the only meaning in anything is the meaning I give it. It is a gentle process of falling into that moment of surrendering to visible all that is invisible.

Beautiful words.


PS -- Thank you for the call-out. I am always surprised and humbled to read my name in someone's blog. I love the invisible threads that connect us through our visible words upon the page.