I’m still on Jeremiah, nearing the end. I had this thought today (and is quite clear, to me at least, when reading him now): All throughout, Jeremiah is speaking about psychology and spirituality. He uses the outside world and circumstances of nations to directly point out the individual’s inner spiritual exile. He is exactly saying that your circumstances, all of them, as far into the wide world as you can imagine, are not telling you something about the state the world is in...they are telling you something about the state YOU are in, as deeply IN as you can imagine. These are the same thing! Jeremiah sees no difference between the two.
Do not miss the transition points:
"This is what the Lord said to me:
Go and stand at the all the gates of Jerusalem.
Say to the people, 'Be careful not to carry a load on the Sabbath Day or bring it through the gates of Jerusalem. Do not bring a load out of your houses or do any work on the Sabbath. Keep it holy..."
This is a continuation of a previous thought regarding Christ--he whose life is indescribably described where two lines cross— as the invisible fulcrum on which all things pivot. He IS the Sabbath. He IS the doorway.
Jeremiah is making the connection that the Sabbath is an invisible door.
The Lord warns in Jeremiah: Do not miss the invisible transition points--these Sabbath Doorways. See them. Separate them clearly and with devotion: keep them holy.
This inability to maintain an attentive eye towards the relationship between things—to keep it holy—is a constant mistake committed by those who struggle with God. The unseen relationship between two worlds IS ALSO the doorway between two worlds, two realities, two stages of thought, two paradigms, two levels of consciousness, two lives. These transition points are thresholds. They are not simply a tether between one work week and the next or between outside the city and inside the city; they are an invisible door--a quantum wormhole hidden behind the wardrobe. A rift transporting between what is above and what is below, between heart and mind, intellect and faith, faith and works, emotions and reason, material and spiritual, a part and its whole, and a whole and its parts, and so on… They are a doorway to new and more accurate visions of the many worlds you inhabit. In them and through them you discover which world is greater and which is lesser, which world is outside and which is inside, and which world sits within which. And so God does not take lightly the mistake of ignoring the background in lieu of the foreground, or vice versa, ignoring the foreground for the background. You need to see both. Regularly, rhythmically, cyclically—at the frequency of life, you need to see both. But if you never find the doorway between two worlds, then you are forever trapped in one. So what now? How can you find a door you can’t see? For it is only by seeing the doorway as separate from your current reality—by keeping it holy— that you may truly walk through it.
Jeremiah hints the answer to seeing invisible doors is related to not carrying a load--unburdening, letting go-- as you pass through. You can't bring anything with you. He describes these holy transition points as the Sabbath and the city gates, and commands the people not carry a load on or through them respectively.
He warns! He raises his voice and his fists at the city gates! He warns that your constant resistance—your consistent pushing or pulling in one world—allows these vital thresholds to other worlds to slip past unnoticed. If you push-on through, then you miss the keyhole. If, for example, you never put down your load to crossover from the outer world to the inner, then you will miss the threshold; never even realizing your sandaled foot passed for the briefest of moments through something called an inner world at all. In your constant striding from peak to peak, stepping right over the valleys, you will notice neither the heights at which you walk nor the depths beneath your feet. If everything’s resistance against a load, then the Sabbaths fade away and everyday is Monday. And, then, there really is no change. Jeremiah warns: when you carry a load from outside the city to inside, then no matter which gate you cross, you never really enter it. It is only in unburdening the weight of…of whatever, of “being you,” that you may see between, see how things relate, that you may see clearly the invisible door and walk into the city of God.
Jesus connects things:
Like Sunday connects Saturday to Monday.
Like the rest connects two notes.
But not only does He connect things, he is also in the things he connects. He is in all, and yet he remains hidden to us.
It might be that our ability to see Jesus holding the world together at all, is precisely through His invisibleness at the fulcrum of things; at the hinge of events; at the transition points; at the center of the cross. Those places where life pivots are supposed to be pivotal, but they are often places we don’t notice (and ignore at our peril) because they sit in between one thing and the next. They are the valley between two peaks and the peak between two valleys—or as the Lord himself laments: “at every high place and under every spreading tree.” They are at the crossing of two events—two lines of thought. At the axis on which our world turns, although not visible or audible, He is nonetheless always there. Even in his body on the cross I can see his hands, east to west. I can see his crown of thorns and his feet—north to south. But at the intersection, it is his unseen heart that is truly on display .
When we disconnect—when we disconnect one event from another, one life from another, inside from outside, intellect from faith, church from state, emotions from reason, spirit from law, breath from prayer, news from good news, alpha from omega, first from last and last from first—we are leaving relics of idol worship at all those critical junctures, casting lots for Jesus’ clothes, trying to separate a seamless robe, desecrating the cross.
Strangely, Jesus is also the great separator: “brother from sister, mother from child”
In His moment of visibility to the soul; He cuts. He is both cut in two, and cuts in two. He is separated and separates. And in that separating, He joins anew what was previously un-joined. He connects again what had been disconnected.
The solution to any problem is not to get rid of the problem.
Then the problem really never goes away.
The solution to a problem involves water. It is a “solution.” It is a solute dissolved by water into a mixture. Solid becomes liquid. One state of matter into another.
It is solvent. Liquid. It is mixture. It is admixture. It is integration of the problem INTO yourself. It is ingestion. To change. To change. To change. To grow. Which is life. Not sterility. Not shooing. Not eschewing. Change (real knowing, real growth, becoming new) cannot occur without acceptance of the problem. An answer given —as opposed to found or realized--is not a solution: it is a cheat. It simply sweeps the actual problem aside, stunting growth and multiplying the problem in the future. The answer to any problem is not the same as the solution to that problem. An answer is only a thought, an idea or a concept that sits all alone on the other side of an equation to null it out. The solution to the problem is the miraculous combination of the problem with the answer. This admixture must include two other elements: you and that which transcends you (that which without which there is no which). The solution includes the learning that came with it. It is the understanding that you must drink the poisoned cup you do not want as the antedate for the eating the poisoned apple you did want. It is now part of the body.
Here lies more firmament: The problems and these elements were always there, it is just that you did not know it. They can neither be created nor destroyed. It is what is called the problem of problems, and it always lurks inside your conscious awareness floating at the edge of your vision near the realm of the unconscious, waiting to become fully realized. The Answer exists completely in the realm outside of your vision…waiting to be let in…waiting to be part of the solution.
The profound questions to answer are not “what is the problem?” And “who am I?”
Rather, it is the reverse:
“Who is the problem?” And “what am I?”
Water--the living water--dissolves things. It tells you things you did not know about yourself. The woman at the well came into direct contact with a deeper well and drew forth the kind of water containing the unconscious elements of not so much “who she was,” but more fundamentally “what she was” and “whose she was.” Bringing what was once swimming in the darkness below, up to her conscious world.
This is the effect of living water.
It opens your eyes. It descales the build up of chalky deposits blinding the vision of eyes exposed to shallow well-water. Blindness is the result of eating the apple of “I can choose what I want for better or worse!” A power which opens the eye to one's conscious self, but shuts it to everything else. Only by drinking the cup filled with aqua vitae can the sleeping eye awaken.
Living water is a thermal barrier within the cold depths of the sea; the barrier between the death of beasts and life of fishes. It is a barrier that must be passed through to arrive where you always were.
Living water stops thirst. It quenches the fire of egoic desire. “I I I!” and “want want want!” finally become, “I’m not thirsty anymore. Do you still thirst?”
Living water is much more related to afterdeath, which is today, than afterlife, which is tomorrow.
Living water turns the end into the beginning--and the beginning into the end. "The first shall be last and the last shall be first." It reverses conscious awareness’ tendency to separate these "two points" as far as possible on a line from one another; and then celebrate this long-distance marriage as a hard, crusty thing called an event. It turns the alpha and the omega of the Wedding at Cana into the circle it always was.
John’s not saying, “No more revelation!” Everything is revelation. He is saying the exact opposite. He is saying, “No more reason!
Enough! You’ve got it! The whole story! Quit quibbling! Now live!”
The woman at the well:
“Come meet the man who didn’t tell me who he was—he told me who I was.”
“When I asked him directions on how to get there, he said, ‘Oh, yes, I know where it is…but I wouldn’t start from here.’”
And everybody looks at each other to see themselves, to figure out who they are—what they must look like—on the inside. But they don't realize it; even as they unconsciously glance at their own reflections throughout the day. Everybody wants to see and be seen; to know and be known. Which means everybody is at once both blind AND invisible; both unknowing and unknown. Deep down everybody just wants to be here. Be alive.
But nobody sees these mirrors. Only vague shapes covered with cloth. With two tiny slits cut in the cloth for eyeholes. Everybody hides beneath their cloth; peeking out. Hide and seek. Can you find me? Oh, no! Don’t find me! I can’t find myself! Who are you? Who am I?
Cloth and two slits. And what’s important is to never let anyone discover who’s really looking out.
A couple of weeks ago I walked into the lounge where I work to get breakfast and I realized this about people and mirrors. There were two people on the other side of the breakfast table. They were studying. I had met them a couple of times already. Briefly. They were medical students. They were both girls. They were quiet, but tense in a “Boy, I just want to make it through another day,” kind of way. They looked at me. And I at them. Their eyes, peeking out of those slits in the cloth.
I see you. Who are you? Who am I?
I looked at them out of my own slits, sat down to start eating, and started talking about nothing really. One of the girls was Vietnamese. I told her I knew ten words in Vietnamese that were not curse words. “I know how to count one through ten.” I stumbled through them like a bad circus act. She said how her language barrier sometimes made it hard to translate the most complicated words, so she had to learn how to communicate difficult things using simpler words and come at the subject from different directions. And I was like, “I love that! That’s perfect!” We talked about how people really like to understand what you’re saying, and you can tell because their anxiety vanishes in the wind, and a smile pops out.
Our talking continued. I didn’t want anything. I just wanted to talk. We talked about life and what I learned about patients and people and myself. And how, not very long ago, I didn’t really like people, and I had gotten myself into a real hard place in life. And I was miserable. And I began to discover some things.
One of things was: I wasn’t very good at telling the truth.
The slits on my cloth ripped open a little wider. Letting in more light. Letting out more light. They’re looking at me now, you see. Staring. No one is moving. I talked about what not being truthful meant in my life and how it came to be that I began to see how destructive it was to my soul and to the the people I cared about. I talked about how you can have all these wants, and desires and goals and then wake up one day and somehow you’ve turned out to be a bad husband. A bad father. A bad human. A kind of “un-human.”
The opening in the cloth is gaping. I am emotional. They are emotional. One of the girls keeps dabbing at her eyes.
There you are. What do you see? Who are you? Who am I?
Pretty soon, the mirrors are uncovered. And now there are three mirrors all facing each other across a breakfast table—a holy space— reflecting endless patterns back and forth. Me you. You me. Light shining. Mind-boggling.
We talk about many things. I tell about how one of the things I think Jesus really offers is how to be a real human being. How to wake up and live. Right now. How to change from a wooden boy in to a real boy.
One of the girls says in a kind of awe, “What is going on here?”
And the other girl, the Vietnamese girl, says quietly as she keeps dabbing at the place her slits used to be, “I know, this is so…healing.”
The Goal is not to be right.
The goal is to help.
A goal is a vision. A mountain. The highest. An idea. A pillar. It stands on its principles and aims at the highest star. It makes everybody look up.
Never, never, never switch the goals. Never!
Faith is first! Then justice. Only then, rightness.
You are made right by helping, not the other way around: You are helping by being right. No, no, no! That’s the old me!
It is the dream spelled out in Genesis 1 and 2. “Take care of the world.” And Abraham’s: “Go save the whole world.”
The Bible should be read like a magic picture book— less focus. Let the right brain see. Let depth and a picture emerge.
Otherwise you end up selling and trading sacrifices at the value culture sets.
You become a prisoner of your value structure; a prisoner of rights and wrongs.
How are we set free from the value structure?
Yield to him what he most needs. Become…become…become.
The eyes are the lamp of the body (v22). Jesus seems to be teaching that the ἁπλοῦς (simple singularity, wide-open perfection, generosity) of our aim and attention has the ability to let us see our world in a way that is bathed in light. It is not a way that I viewed the world in the past. What a marvelous idea: that our body—our temple we are called to keep; the place of our action, the creation we are given to tend—will light up everywhere: It will be full of light—it is a completely different way of looking at the world. To see with a perfect eye seems to mean that our landscape (a landscape of action where the kingdom of heaven meets the kingdom of earth) will glimmer with light. It is something much more like: “If I set my eye on Jesus, my responsibilities will shine forth before me. And if I accept and follow that flawlessly lit path, I get to be a royal priest transforming this world into a new heaven and a new earth.
A lamp is simply a lamp. It has no light of its own. It must receive light to give light. But beware of improper aim and attention. That lamp is lit with a dark light. And the light it gives is a darkness that fills the body—this kind of darkness is not an absence of light—it is a great and terrible presence.
A C.S. Lewis quote that I often think about is:
“I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”