Meditation: At the Threshold

Man Glimpsing Through Threshold

“Turbi e orbi”  Latin means “whirlwind of world” in English (loses the meaning somewhat).

“Threshold: The esoteric significance of the threshold relates to its position in the passage from the external (profane) to the internal (sacred) state.…

“To stand at the threshold is to indicate one’s readiness to obey the rules by which the place is governed. …

“To stand at the threshold is also to place oneself under the protection of the master of the house, be he God, grandee or peasant.

“Crossing the threshold requires a degree of bodily purgation and purity of mind and soul, symbolized, for example, by the removal of one’s shoes before entering a mosque or a Japanese house.

“The threshold is the borderline of the holy and participation in the transcendence of the centre.”

 -Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant, The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols, trans. John Buchanan-Brown, 1969

And Thanks to Susan Guthrie for finding this quote and art.

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Suffering and Grace

Jesus calling His disciples
The Gospel today was from the Book of Mark where James and John want the seats of honor in the New Kingdom of Glory. Jesus tells them they surly will be drinking the cup of suffering and woe that is a baptism of kind that keep them in the same calling as His. However to those seats of honor are for others. The whole concept of following Jesus means that one will be drinking a cup of suffering just as he has.

I follow Suzanne Guthrie’s blog, Come to the Garden (she attended and graduated from the same semniary as I did).

From Suzanne Guthries’ blog [http://ammaguthrie.wordpress.com/2012/10/08/soul-devouring-poverty/ ] Suzanne says near the end…
“Suffering opens my soul to love. And when my suffering meets God’s suffering, we become one in that suffering, incarnate in the world, bearing this suffering for I-Know-Not-What. Christian practice helps me to trust living in the incomprehensible vortex of the cross. My suffering, your suffering, God’s suffering, bringing forth new life. How can I bear this joy?” -Suzanne

http://ammaguthrie.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/the-alchemy-of-suffering/#comments

A fellow reader Tony Burkart replies: October 16, 2012 at 2:23
“I can’t help but think of Flannery O’Conner’s short story, “A Good Man Is Hard To Find.” Amidst horrendous circumstances, eyes meet, soul’s melt for a fraction of temporal time, not a Hollywood ending but something profoundly changes in the reader if personal vulnerability fuses with Grace.”

This leads me to wonder just how does one’s vulnerability fuse with Grace? It sounds delightful and encouraging that one in the midst of weakness, calamity, desease, can be “fused” with “hope” or God’s Grace.
Okay, but how does one understand what that means? What does it mean this “fused”? Is it a communion of soul and mind, that one can feel and understand? Or can we only hope and trust that Grace is holding us up?
I wonder do we need stories like the one Tony refers to in his reply to illustrate the experience? Can this experience of being fused with grace be understood by recognizing or identifying with what seems to be said in this description of sharing suffering? I wonder too if this idea of “being fused with grace” can be communicated to one who has not experienced this sharing of suffering or grace? Am I making myself clear?

Thresholds of Dark Corners

“It ís those between-places, the closing of one door and the indistinct threshold of you-know-not-what-yet that stir up debris usually settled along the dusty path of consciousness.”    Susan Guthrie

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.  A. Einstein

There have been so many references to thresholds lately in my reading and thoughts that I wanted to comment briefly on the threshold of the darkness of suffering.  The illusion we have is that dark corners of understanding, the dark places of suffering from whatever it may be, tell us that we are without hope; we are not fully advanced as a “human being.”  It is during those very dark predicaments of life wherein the “dust” or debris of past illusions can get swept up into our limited focus we have at the time.

St. John of the Cross explained how light is really darkness. It is in a dark room when some light is entered that we see not light but dust and debris floating round in the mist. The unseen light reveals the debris, the dust. As light of understanding emerges ever so slightly in our dark moments of understanding or times of suffering, we don’t recognize the light at all rather we begin to see the dust and debris the illusions of our thinking, the illusions of our ill founded faith in the belief that we are to become more human.  The belief that being a true “human being” is the ultimate goal of the journey of life.  It is this belief that humanity at its best is the ultimate reality.  This  idea that  we are on a journey to become “human,”  or ” perfectly human,” has been generated by many theologians.

I see this is as an illusionary faith. St. Peter was expressed this kind of faith in his fellow mankind, when he refused to think or accept the fact that his great all powerful and wise Teacher would be put to death by the authorities especially the church authorities.  His All Wise Teacher tells him his faith was ill placed! He calls this kind of thinking as being associated with “Satan!”  The opposite of Life giving thinking.  He is pointing to Peter telling him  it isn’t in being more humanly kind, or in trusting in human kindness, wisdom, or justice, rather one’s faith is to be placed in the “unknown” the dark light of following the steps into suffering from the humanity to find the true Life eternal.  This is so obtuse to human thinking and still is today! A completer reversal of our modern prosperity, live to find happiness, et cetera.

This is place of darkness is a threshold we all are brought to many times over in our journey of living among our fellow humanity and world existence.  Do we let the True Light reveal the “dust’ of our illusionary faith and then repent?   Are willing to turn and let the suffering, the disgrace of following the kindness, the true justice of our Teacher be our guide?  Can the debris be cleansed and removed?  Jesus says Yes!  Follow him to the cross carrying  our own cross.

This is so against my humanity.  Only can God give me the Spirit to follow Him.  Come and get me oh True Light, reveal the debris in my life, let me follow into the night, but help me!

A poem for Autuum

Careing Love for one not of our own

Careing Love for one not of our own

Assurance

You will never be alone, you hear so deep
a sound when autumn comes. Yellow
pulls across the hills and thrums,
or in the silence after lightning before it says
its names — and then the clouds’ wide-mouthed
apologies. You were aimed from birth:
you will never be alone. Rain
will come, a gutter filled, an Amazon,
long aisles — you never heard so deep a sound,
moss on rock, and years. You turn your head —
that’s what the silence meant: you’re not alone.
The whole wide world pours down.

—William Stafford

Comments about “the Way” in Acts chapter 24 from A Tobias Stanislas Haller & me

I follow Tobias S Haller and his comments in my Google Reader and on Aug 18 he posted  No Way to Run…” on his blog In Godward Direction.   He begins talking about the “Way” that St. Paul entitles the “the followers of the Good News.”   I found the post challenging, provoking, fun and enlightening.  Incidentally, I agreed completely, his comment about the political pundits speaking before the speakers are even finished.
Here is his post in complete quote.  My short comments are at the bottom of this post.

You can find his original post here In Godward Direction with comments from others. Good! I too as the first person comment liked and laughed at what Tobias said that we need “whole new shift-load of paradigms” ! Great stuff!
No Way to Run…
by Tobias Stanislas Haller

2 people liked this – you, and 1 more

“Every time I come upon the passage from the 24th chapter of Acts (appointed for the Daily Office today) I am reminded of the resonance between references to the early church as “the Way” to the Rabbinic concept of Halakah: the law as a Way in which one walks.

This struck me particularly this morning because I have been thinking a great deal about the dangers of ideology, and how an ideology or a theory (properly understood as a “way of seeing”) can actually prevent one from seeing a deeper reality. The phenomenon is known as “perceptual set” in some circles, “paradigm blindness” in others. Put briefly, the way you see the world can come to dominate what you see. I referred in an earlier post to the old saying, “If your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” If as Thomas Kuhn suggests, we need a shift in our paradigms in order to see changes in reality, it seems to me that across the board in many areas of our lives we need a whole new shift-load of paradigms!

For both in church and state these days ideology is at the forefront and reality has become deeply shrouded in veils of preconception. From conversations on climate change to sexuality, the debt crisis to marriage equality, the verbiage — I cannot in good conscience call it conversation for the most part — appears to be dominated by ideologies and theories rather than fact. (I cannot be the only one who is appalled to see what has become of journalism these days: and there are times I long for a supply of bricks next to my easy chair to toss through the television screen when a “news” program cuts from an actual live speech by a world leader to a panel of pundits even before the speech is finished!) Whatever reality there may be is cocooned in layers of opinion, and there is no sign of a butterfly emerging. Not a chrysalis, but a mummy.

But back to Saint Paul and the rabbis, and this idea of the faith being a “way” — and of course acknowledging that the Jewish tradition had long understood various “ways” as being either wicked or good, depending. (See Psalm 1!)

The major contrast I want to note is the difference between a way and a place. In this case I am particularly thinking about how Paul’s alleged insult to the Temple (in fact baseless) led to his having to defend this new Way. And what is ironic is that the old Way of rabbinic Halakah itself turned out to be the means by which this form of Judaism was able to survive the destruction of the Temple — a Temple which God appears, from the early record, not actually to have wanted all that much; God preferring the Tent and Tabernacle, or the terrifying Chariot, to the petrified establishment on the hill of Zion. (Ezekiel sees a new Temple, Revelation assures us there is no Temple in the New Jerusalem. Take your pick.)

So it appears to me that Christianity itself could well be seen as an emergent non-Temple-based Judaism (among the many Judaisms of the first century) that gets detached and takes on a life of its own; much as rabbinic (rather than Temple) Judaism continued the life of that faith because it had come to see the living out of the Way of God was not dependent upon an external institution but an internalized (both individually and corporately) Way of life under the guidance of a transcendent God.

So does this have anything to say to our current ecclesiastical troubles — say, in relation to a proposed Anglican Covenant or the Indaba Process as “ways” of working? Or to our civic, national, or international concerns — government as institution or government as way of being?
Discuss among yourselves and report back!”
– by Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG
My Comment:
Tobias seems to have a very discerning mind. The quote of Thomas Kuhn made me laugh out loud.

I like example especially of Ezekiel “seeing a New Temple” and the “Revelation of Jesus to John” as “no temple in the new Jerusalem.” Take my pick Tobias says. I think both are viable. Could we explain it that Ezekiel was prophesying the “new Temple” as the “Body of Christ?” and John’s vision(prophecy) is of the whole New Jerusalem of another dimension of Life all together. So maybe it isn’t a “take you pick” after all but both prophecies are true; one has been or is being fulfilled in the Church Age (as we call it) and the other has yet to be fulfilled.
Good food for thought and prayer, I found.