Saturday, April 14, 2012

The wound of our fallenness

I should back up here and say that a friend found a book for me at the thrift shop where I do some volunteer marketing; it's called The Best American Spiritual Writing of 2005, and it's edited by Philip Zaleski.  Bamford's Parabola article is the first article in the book, and it continues to capture my interest, as I spent most of Lent exploring the concept of call and response.

Today's reading... well.  I'll just quote it for you:

At first people are like angels, bathed in light and goodness.  We move without separation, as if all beings participated in a unique identity, a communion of perfect understanding.  Somewhere, neither within us nor without us, we still hear the echo of the single name we all share.  Echoing in the depths, it calls us to the common task of playfully, joyfully cocreating the world.  We are busy with it.  We understand the mutuality of being, of our interdependence.  The world is a marvelous piece of music, and like an angelic choir we busy ourselves with performing the heavenly composition, knowing that everyone is playing the same score.

Then comes the fall, which, like the call itself, appears gradually yet in fact, paradoxically, has always been there....It seems that we are not only always called, but also always fallen.  We know this because though each of us experiences the fall subjectively, we also know that we are not alone in our pain.  We are hurt, but as we turn our attention from our own pain, we recognize that the world is in pain, and that fallenness is a universal condition.  Individually we may feel violated or betrayed in different ways, but whatever the circumstances of our falling, we recognize the bitter teaching that the world is riven by violence and deception and that we are all complicit in it.

Fall and call belong together.  As the web of deception and death appears and the golden world fades, the memory of that world, which seemed once so safe and whole, continues to call.  Nature remains beautiful. Though we no longer see its invisible source, we still intuit it at the edge of our perception...  The wonder and reverence that surrounded us, haloing parents and playmates alike, does not disappear.  Transformed into curiosity, it becomes interest.  People call us.  They draw us.  A glance, a smile, a touch, are now redolent of the mystery the greater world once held.  

The wound of our fallenness becomes a school of empathy.  We learn sympathy and compassion... Art, literature, and music become messengers, intermediaries of the call.... Meaning still occasionally pierces the clouds of fragmentation, drawing us on.  The call, which seemed perhaps to echo from the past, now sounds from the future.... The unity experienced in that first love of beauty seems now to foreshadow the unity we could achieve by realizing God's identity with creation through the work of conscious human love and suffering.

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