Monday, March 15, 2010

Divine Predicament

Occasionally, the Whiskey River blogsite publishes passages by writers who express one or another of the cores of my spiritual walk, gifting me with the understanding that I am not alone on the planet. I am not alone even though I have gone my own way. Here are today's quotes on the truth of things. Amen.

"There's a space at the bottom of an exhale, a little hitch between taking in and letting out that's a perfect zero you can go into. There's a rest point between the heart's muscle's close and open - an instant of keenest living when you're momentarily dead. You can rest there."
- Mary Karr

"The gaps are the thing. The gaps are the spirit's one home, the altitudes and latitudes so dazzlingly spare and clean that the spirit can discover itself like a once-blind man unbound. The gaps are the clefts in the rock where you cower to see the back parts of God; they are the fissures between mountains and cells the wind lances through, the icy narrowing fords splitting the cliffs of mystery. Go up into the gaps. If you can find them; they shift and vanish too. Stalk the gaps. Squeak into a gap in the soil, turn, and unlock - more than a maple - a universe."
- Annie Dillard

This is my opinion. Don’t read it if you have your own strong opinion.

The gaps are essential and are central to the notion of the presence of God in a world filled with free will action. We live in the main on the surface of things, only dimly knowing of the deeps unless something special happens or else we enter into disciplines designed to change normal consciousness in fundamental ways. The gaps are those kind of doorways.

We tend to complete things, finish them, close the circles. This means we tend to enclose ourselves in the self will of our freedom. We value this. However the gaps in things are so fundamental that no matter what we do, we cannot completely close things. Even so, God has a covenant with us to not violate our free will.

We can’t succeed in closing things off but we can refuse His Presence, unless something is so important to His Work that we are disregarded. This can happen but it is really rare that any one of us is so essential to His Work that He cannot find anyone else to do it. In a world of alternatives, He does not have to violate free will.

The more of us there are on the planet, the more completely free will is the rule. That will be true until there are too many of us and we begin to limit each other in overcrowding. The gaps are still there, not far from us no matter what we do. That is the special privilege that the Buddhists refer to when they say we are in a special privileged position in all creation. We are in the position where we can actually access the gaps in things and enter them. This is not true for other sentient beings. It is a matter of spiritual scale. Some beings are metaphorically too small and others metaphorically too big. This does not mean that getting access to the gaps is an easy task, just that it is possible.

And my poem for this day is about some of the stuff that could be happening in the gaps…

Divine Predicament

When two goddesses
meet I hope I'm not the one
they've decided to
discuss in minute
detail, as if I lay on
some forensic slab
divinely opened
to precise judgmental view.

Perhaps instead I'm
bathed in vinegar,
curing and marinating,
being readied for
next week's stewing pot.

April 22, 2009 12:25 PM


  1. I enjoyed the quotes by Karr and Dillard and your discussion of a "place" I've not thought about.

    I want to comment, too, on your enlightened attitude toward women - from worshiping the divine to respecting the mind. While you may think this is normal or no big deal, your female readers know it is not usual in our world. I thank your teachers, your strong mother and those other women in your life for doing something right(...and you for being wise enough to internalize whatever it is).

  2. Karen, I do know it is unusual to hold such views. If I make it seem normal that is because that is the right atmosphere for the expression of my views, that they genuinely are not unusual or extraordinary. They are not extraordinary in the light of the world. They are older views and they predate the presence of Christendom. That you would make your comment just the way you do exposes your life as it takes place in the heart of the western European experience.

    The venue of the divine feminine is not to be found in the lofty heights of spirit but in the aromas found in the wilderness and around the hearth, in the loam, the humus and the fruit of the garden.

    To be fair to me and my views, they do not lack the masculine elevation. They cannot. They arise from the phallus in the lap of my Father who lives atop tbe world. My views are prepared to burst forth in honor of their reception in the heart of my lady's womb, there to gestate and bring forth the divine child.

    This is a vision Dionysian, but it cannot breathe without an Apolonian spaciousness, and neither Dionysus nor Apollo can survive long without the rightful responses, the demonstrative love of Aphrodite, of Hera, of Diana, of Athena, of Artemis, and all this must occur within the fire and thunder of Zeus' vision.

    Or I can recast this in many Hindu forms, or say it as the Buddhists do, or time it in the Taoist philosophy, and saying so, I return via the hot breath of Coyote to my Father's lap where I started, and am the seed within the phallus.

    This is my inner life, the heat and source of my Witness. What I see and call is the feminine. What I decry is the falling short of divine love.

    In the meantime, having said all that, I am just another bozo on the bus, just a fat old man with limited time left on the planet. This morning I am living with the first flare of gout in my right big toe in fifteen years.

  3. Thanks Christopher...I like to tell people running is a divine momentarily, repeatedly lose contact with the earth to soar in the ether of your dreams, and gently return back to mother Earth, to stay grounded with reality...the euphoria of the sweet in-betweens...thanks...Ron

  4. I've not considered this kind of language to express things. The gaps, I like it, as though to be in a void momentarily is not to be without, but rather to with insight. In the still there can be witness. I see it as witnessing beauty and truth. That, to me, is the face of god, but then that is just me adapting my language to give IT a name. I don't need to name it god. I can stand behind truth and beauty alone. But they are there, to be sure, those gaps you speak of, the slight cracks in time and space that if you can slide inside of we can have eyes that see.

    Your poem - I do hope that the divine does not bother with judgement. I hope that the divine exists beyond this.


  5. Ron, I believe that dynamic meditation techniques are viable. Musicians know that music is a doorway in its rhythm, but not all music works. Chanting is a doorway that overlaps with music. Running if practiced from the divine point of view is a doorway too. Christian monks use a walking meditation style. I chant Hindu mantra. I don't do it daily in my idle life, but I chant mantra in my working life as a hygiene against the immersion in corporate life.

    I think by now it must be obvious that I treat poetry as a practice.

  6. Loved the poem Christopher, and the gap theory. The death between each heart beat, and resuscitation with each contraction. I'm actually writing a screen play in my mind right now...what is seen and experienced in the gab moments from those who are open to them. Care to collaborate? I hear Steven Spielberg calling.

  7. Erin, you are coming hard up against the challenge of thinking seriously about what it can mean that the divine is actually present in things. Because the Christian experience tends to overdramatize the judgement of God and you have been raised up in Christendom, you have become sensitive to the obvious distortion that is a consequence of translating a divine activity into human stories. Do not confuse the two if you can rise above this dilemma. Even adult Christians know better than that. Not all Christians are fundamentalists any more than all Muslims are Islamist. However, not many Christians are mystic and this forces many of us into other spiritual language in order to express the cyclic nature of the breath and soul. The gaps in things and their cycles as a part of these other traditions are much more easily grasped. Christian mystics know about mystical experience too but often the language is difficult for us theses days.

    I think Buddhists have the easiest language for our time, but they too are subject to the distortions of human stories. No one escapes this shortcoming and it is easy for anyone to decide to stand in the Christian camp, for example, and find ways to criticise Buddhism and vice versa based on the distortions in the human stories.

    It is simply not realistic to expect an easy path no matter what tradition(s) guide your thought. If you choose an eclectic stand from which to grow in spirit, then your burden of study and education actually grows rather than shrinks. You become your own guru in this case, possible for many of us but an added challenge.

    Most of the adepts on the planet will offer you some variant to this wisdom: choose a main discipline, any one of the spiritual walks available to you and follow it for at least ten years before deciding to follow some other. They will universally warn against the shallowness of the spiritual dilletante who sips from many flowers without ever descending into the humus beneath.

    I saw this "butterfly spirit" at work up close and personal with a woman I was in love with. It bruises the soul.

  8. Annie, I don't think the audience is there. It is certainly not my experience that the hunger for the spirit is naked enough in polite society. The spirit is far too erotic for most. That's why these kinds of things turn so completely metaphorical on the main stages. Lord of The Rings and the Star Wars saga.

    We go to India and are titillated by the statuary of yoni and lingam in all its guises, and marvel at the pilgrims who only wear chains, and gasp in shocked disbelief and dismay at some of the practices too. We marvel too at the Native American Sun Dance practices.

    So much of the spiritual is simply not polite enough for moderns. It is hard to tell God stories in ways that do not shock and insult someone. They will say they are too sophisticated and grown up for this.

    So Christ told parables and our latest versions tend to fantasy and science fiction. This happens because science has peeled back and accurately analyzed so much of the world now that mainstream stories have alternate less mystical and miraculous mundane explanations.

  9. I am not going to read all the comments, i was just looking if my partner in crime was here, the other goddess.
    And... we did put you in the stewing pot, after almost a year
    you still taste good :)

  10. Christopher, I didn't grow up in the framework of much spiritually, just what popular culture supplies as Christian, and that's pretty aenemic. What appeals more to me, is not so much a sampling of many different religions, but rather a shedding, if possible, of as much as I can, to get down and still into the soil of what IT might be. Perhaps that is where the gaps are recognized, for me. I don't particularly want a relious language in which to speak through, or language of any sort really, but to have a bare eye to a moment and have, if I am lucky enough, the grace to recognize it and accept it in deeply. I find it perplexing when people try on different religions searching for a truth. I can understand it, if they are searching for a familiar language through which to speak (and a community in which to share it) but not as a definitive truth. I think that happens too often.

    I do appreciate coming here, because your language is reduced, it seems. You've bare tools laid out that anyone might pick up and use. I appreciate this.


  11. ...the spirit as erotic...holy holy, do i like this! (just reading everyone else's exchange)

  12. Erin, of course you like the idea of the spirit as erotic. You have been doing that in your poetry as long as I have been reading it. It is what happens when spirit flows at all freely. There are women Christian mystics who take the "bride of Christ" experience all the way and write about it. There is heat as well as light.

    The Song of Solomon is a love poem so obviously to God as well as to the beloved woman that it was included as a biblical book, as a seminal idea of how to relate to God. Its message is that there is an essential way that the erotic is part of holy expression. The word holy means in part "whole". There is no way to be human without also being erotic. That cannot be left behind as I approach God.

    Thank you for complimenting me on how I am taking and paring down much of what is unnecessary for you about this spiritual realm. It is a role we can play for each other, though I think this is an area where I don't really want responsibility. Instead I love the idea of "God with skin on". I go on about my way, even when I really am consciously trying to express spirit, hoping that God shines through the cracks for someone. The cracks are not my cracks though I have trained to hold them open if I can. The light that shines through is not my light, though I welcome it. That you are the someone who sees, that too is not my affair.

    I really love it when someone who sees through me turns out to be someone I can see through too. You are such, not you but the light beyond you, but you still in that you have welcomed it and your beauty is luminous. This is erotic without question.

  13. Christopher, you are a strange and wonderful bird. I am glad that you are in my life. You are steady. Sometimes I rail against that, but then you know that of me. And sometimes that steady is exactly what I need.


  14. How could spirit not be erotic?
    This is amazing.....xxxx

  15. It is tasty, delicious, aromatic, intimate, warm. It itches in ways both easy and difficult to scratch. We need partners to reach the cracks and crevices we cannot easily reach on our own. We need good habits of hygiene, outer and inner, in order to support partnership. We need generosity and compassion to invite companions.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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