Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Listening to the Deep

As you can see, I've been having enormous amounts of fun playing with this new series of images!  This one is somewhat improbably titled "Hedgehog Blues," partly because there's a sort of hedgehog shape to it, and partly because there's even a sort of hedgehog-like face there in the yellow on the right. 

It seemed determined to appear here this morning; and at first I thought that had something to do with the splits in it -- the widening crack at the bottom, and the colorless section in the middle -- which might echo the Thomas Merton quotation from Monday's poem, "What can we gain by sailing to the moon, if we cannot cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves?"

But the more I look at it, the more I see the section on the right as surface activity, the social self, and the section on the left as the rich well of being that comprises the True Self; the cracks then do indeed become "the abyss that separates us from ourselves."

... which resonates beautifully with my reading this morning in Parker Palmer's Let Your Life Speak.  First there is an excerpt from Vaclav Havel's speech to our own joint session of Congress:  "Consciousness precedes Being, and not the other way around, as Marxists claim.  For this reason, the salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect, in human modesty, and in human responsibility.  Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness, nothing will change for the better."

We must be willing to cross that abyss within ourselves; to look into the deep well of being that fuels so much of our thinking and actions.  "In the deeps," Palmer says, quoting Annie Dillard, "are the violence and terror of which psychology has warned us.  But if you ride these monsters down, if you drop with them farther over the world's rim, you find what our sciences cannot locate or name, the substrate, the ocean or matrix or ether which buoys the rest, which gives goodness its power for good, and evil its power for evil, the unified field; our complex and inexplicable caring for each other, and for our life together here."

We have no choice but to go inward and downward; to cross the abyss and face into the hardest realities of our lives.  If we insist on always operating outward and upward, we will never discover that the shadows we are so determined to project on others are our own; that the enemy is within, that it is our determined deafness to our own inner entreaties for attention that keeps us from tapping into the rich well of joy that lies beneath.  We really, desperately, need to make time and create space to become more fully conscious, more present, more mindful, more aware.

"The spiritual traditions," says Palmer, "do not deny the reality of the outer world.  They simply claim that we help make that world by projecting our spirit on it, for better or for worse.  If our institutions are rigid, it is because our hearts fear change; if they set us in mindless competition with each other, it is because we value victory over all else; if they are heedless of human well-being, it is because something in us is heartless as well...Consciousness precedes being: consciousness, yours and mine, can form, deform, or reform our world.  Our complicity in world making is a source of awesome and sometimes painful responsibility -- and a source of profound hope for change.  It is the ground of our common call to leadership, the truth that makes leaders of us all."

If we cannot learn to venture into the space within; to be attentive to ourselves, to listen to our own thoughts and feelings, to dance on that unified field with the shadows of memory, then we will never be able to become fully compassionate beings: our own unexpressed longings will continue to fill our ears and drive us, and we will find ourselves unable to hear above the din of our own ignored and unintelligible hungers.

... which seems to tie in beautifully with Richard Rohr's prayer for today from Wondrous Encounters

"God of perfect freedom, open spaces inside of our minds, our hearts, and our memories, so we can just begin to be free.  Do not let us be hardened against any one of your creatures [including ourselves], so that we cannot hear and respect their truth."

1 comment:

Kimberly Mason said...

I haven't the brain power lately to read much of anything and absorb it, so I've just quit reading for a while. What I haven't stopped doing is looking at your images. I love this latest series! I especially love this one. Yay you!