You don’t learn something or get information and then store that in a filing cabinet in your mind. That’s not a good idea, because that’s not how it is supposed to work. What you learn from, let’s say, a book is a piece of a puzzle. “Ahh! There it is!” And you fit it in to something much larger that you can always see and feel and it is alive and getting clearer all the time. It is a picture of life. You live inside of this puzzle—this mosaic temple.
Or not. Or it’s just filing cabinets, closed up and full of meaningless bits.
The moral matrix is the cursed tree. The tree on which we hang yet can not see.
We are the Two thieves, blind that we take the shape of a cross, blind to the freedom right next us. This is the whole world.
The thing in the middle you can’t see is the way out. It is the cross. It is Shawshank prison. And everybody’s in it. Those who deserve it a lot as well as those who deserve it a little.
Don’t confuse a symbol with the reality behind it.
Which is to say, be careful when symbolizing reality.
The symbol is not reality. It just directs your eye to it; points at it.
It is to confuse the moon for the finger pointing at the moon.
My mother recently realized the hymn “I’m Climbing Jacob’s Ladder,” had somehow became silly and meaningless to her. This hymn from childhood no longer pointed anywhere. Certainly not to the deep reality in the Biblical story. She had confused the symbol for what was behind it; worshipping the symbol as “real” and in this way severing the symbol from its meaning. She had lost its connection to reality.
Another example of this confusion is that life is the treasure, not the money that represents it. Yet we find ourselves often more upset over the loss of the money than the treasure we gain in the exchange.
Christ—the cross—himself says, “Ye believe in the Father. Believe ye also in me.” He points to the father. A symbol is something you follow to the destination…it is not the destination. It transports you there. “I go to my father’s house.”
You don’t worship the door to get where you are going. The door you see is just a concept, and if that’s all it is then it sits in direct opposition to faith—actually blocks your way. Rather it is the door you can’t see, the invisible door—the wardrobe, the rabbit hole, the tunnel in Shawshank Redemption, the ruby slippers, platform 9 and 3/4—that are first found by sheer accident, then later are walked through by faith alone to go home. This is the real door. And even though you may not know it, and can not see it, there is the blood of a lamb painted on the other side.
My mother realized something profound. In a sense, she was the door. She wasn’t climbing a ladder to some other something. She was the ladder. Because Christ is the ladder. He, and she with him, the son of Man, the Jacob’s ladder on whom the angels ascend and descend. She, and He with her, the thing which brings heaven down and earth up. Connecting two places into one. She is the bridge. She is cross-shaped. Door-shaped. A short, two-legged, walking city of God with a Texas drawl. Life bursts from this compass. All lines converge on and diverge from this steeple. In fear and humility and amazement you turn this rock up and anoint it with oil, and sing with new joy of the meaning you’ve found.
A wise man taught my children while I was off somewhere kicking cans as hard as I could, then grumbling at the scuffs on my shoes:
To really live is something you do just for the pleasure of God’s smile.
“Well! Ha!” Barks the Cain in me, the black dog inside, “That’s not a very good reason!”
Feelings sprout out of life, arising from beneath the surface.
Fear. Envy. Guilt. Anger.
Happiness. Joy. Peace. Courage.
You don’t set out to have them—they just seem to spring from nowhere like apples on a tree. You can’t help it. You excrete them. They just happen.
Like what happens when you listen to music.
Lived experience unlocks feelings. Which means feelings are locked inside somewhere waiting to color your experience in tones and shades and half-shades; painting strokes in values either good or bad.
If the fruits of fear, envy, guilt and anger manifest within whatever one’s garden is producing—which is whatever one is doing—then your garden has gone all wrong. It is a sick garden producing sick things; a dead garden producing death. This garden must go.
No fear. No envy. No guilt. No anger.
New gardens await. Take the plunge. Accept.
The healthy garden produces life. Even though we constantly convince ourselves it is the reverse, the healthy journey, the only journey is from death into life.
One view shouted from seemingly every mountaintop, every screen, from every bemuzzled and muffled mouth is this:
"The risk of death obviously outweighs merely seeing the human face!"
But I disagree. It is just as easy and, even more, it is backed up by reality to say:
"Seeing the human face far outweighs the risk of death!"
Why? Because it just is. Because your first exposure to life is met with a full-throated, unmasked yelp to the world. Because your first kiss is from the warm unmasked lips of a mother—and it is love and it is everything and everything changes and everything lives. Because on your deathbed you will choose the face over the mask. You will pull down the mask and demand to see love—to give love. You will abandon all reason for it. Just to kiss you will choose lips in spite of the scythe on your neck, in the face of every unknown, in the midst of the fires and the floods, in spite of the falling debris and shrapnel at the end. And as it will be at the end, so it was at the beginning, and so it is always. You will do it today. You know you will. Because it is everything. Because in every human face is the face of God.
Yet still you may shout from your pile of facts and figures and from behind your mask:
“I would rather live one more day than see ten thousand smiling human faces!”
But I...I will shout from my mountaintop more clearly and more boldly as my very breath ascends to the heavens:
“I am willing to die just to see one.”
Love one another. Even to the point of the cross. Even to the point of death.
My contention is:
Christ showed me in a specifically inexplicable way, a great schism within myself. A schism I had never seen before, that extended from me and cut the whole world in two. And in seeing this about myself, I began to be “one in spirit.”
Like the two thieves with Jesus in the middle.
Except ye become as little children.
(Apocatastasis: starting over; restoration of an initial state.)
(Jesus as the alpha and the omega. The omega and the alpha.)
Jesus bends the straight line of time and experienced reality from a straight line into a circle or a horseshoe. And the end and the beginning look at each other, They are the closest to each other. Jesus crosses that divide. It is the rebirth. Jesus tells Nicodemus, “I know how to get where you want to go, but you can’t start from here. Anywhere you are on this circle is further from the place I am; and the place you should be. The closest place to the end is the beginning.”
...Every goldsmith is shamed by his idols.
Man’s every creation in which he trusts—401k’s, houses, companies, money—shames him. They are rubbish on judgement day (the day of reckoning for a life of spiritual poverty)
Causal (scientific/ rational/if…then) vs Acausal (God) thinking:
Causal: if your behavior is accepted; then you are good. (Cain)
God: “When you are good, your behavior is accepted.” (Abel)
Causal: If I see proof—evidence—, then I’ll believe. (Show us a sign...)
God: When you believe, you’ll see proof. (Because you have believed...)
Causal: if you fit in to my thinking, then I’ll change. (Brood of vipers)
God: When you change your thinking, you’ll fit. (Eye of the needle, Rich young ruler)
Causal: yesterday causes today.
(Moses prior to the burning bush)
God: “Today causes yesterday.”
(Moses after the burning bush)
Causal: The evidence for the present is the past. (Pillar of salt)
God: “The evidence for the past is the present.” (great cloud of witnesses)