Search This Blog

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Master of Disguise

God Incognito -
We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with God. God walks everywhere incognito. And the incognito is not always hard to penetrate. The real labor is to remember, to attend. In fact, to come awake. Still more, to remain awake.
~C.S. Lewis

The above quote from C.S. Lewis is from a daily email I receive of inspirational and contemplative thoughts called "Inward / Outward."  Sharing this with you makes me think of several daily or weekly sources I can pass along to you, and to which you can subscribe if interested.  So, in addition to "Inward / Outward" here are a few other links:

Daily Gratitude

Seth Godin


On Being

Thought for Today   - send an email request to Tom McGehee:

If you have links you would like to share with me, please do so.

Now back to "God Incognito."   Lewis, says "...we can nowhere evade, the presence of God" and "God walks everywhere..."  It all sounds similar to Alan Watts' "God playing hide and seek," doesn't it?

When considering God, what is it about "nowhere" and "everywhere" that we fail to understand or perhaps even fear?  First, nowhere and everywhere are infinite terms and our minds simply cannot comprehend infinity.  The paradox is that even if we could, our comprehension would be a finite understanding of infinity.

Second, nowhere and everywhere assume that we actually know what "where" is.  The truth is, ever since Einstein and friends discovered that time and space are not nearly as concrete as Newton and company had previously thought, we live with the boundless possibility that past, present, future, here, there, and where are all "here and now."

In light of this, perhaps the answer to our question is we fear the nowhere and everywhere of God because we do not and cannot understand.  So where does this leave us?    With "experience!" As Lewis puts it "to remember, to attend, to come [and] remain awake."  

The Bible calls it "Immanuel,"  God with us, through whom we live, move, and have our being!  Knowing God is experiencing God, and to experience God is to simply open our eyes (and other senses as well) and look around.

God is the ultimate Master of Disguise!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tag, You're It!

I’ve just finished reading a fascinating book, “The Book On The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are” by Alan Watts.  

One metaphor Watts presents is that ultimate reality is a game of hide and seek in which God hides from God’s Self.  He says this is necessary because there is nothing outside of God from which to hide.  So God pretends to be the created universe, including Humanity.   The way God finds God’s Self is when we realize that we are God pretending to be someone else.

On first read this sounds rather blasphemous, but when placed beside some biblical imagery it does become quite intriguing.  Jesus tells his disciples, “I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” (John 14:20) “The glory that you have given me I have given them, so thatthey may be one, as we are one,  I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one…” (John 17:23).  The Apostle Paul says to a group of people in Athens, “…God is not far from each of us.  For in God we live, and move, and have our being…” (Acts 17:27-28), which in itself is a quote of a Greek philosopher, perhaps Epimenides.

I’m not trying to prove anything here, just playfully entertaining that we are in a game of hide and seek with God in which we are all “It.”

Another thing that comes to mind is the popular song from a few years ago, “What If God Was One Of Us?”

Tag, you’re It!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Mindful Perseverance

“Everyone knows that it takes time and perseverance to master an art, a sport, a language, or any other discipline. Why should it not be the same with training the mind? It is a worthwhile adventure. We are not talking about acquiring some ordinary ability, but rather about a new way of being that will determine the quality of our entire life.”

As millions of people around the world watch and read about the Winter Olympic Games one story that gets told repeatedly, yet with always a different personal twist, is the story of preparation and training required of olympic athletes.  For many it has been a lifetime of preparation, including not only success but also failure.

Perhaps you have seen the television commercial running during The Olympics that shows numerous cuts of children and young adults taking spills on the ice and snow as they learn and practice. If you haven't seen it, you can watch it now at this link.  Of course like all commercials it is trying to sell us products, however the real message of the video is in the final frame, "...falling only makes us stronger..."  

Matthiew Ricard reminds us above that training our minds also takes the same kind of dedication and perseverance required of athletes and artists.   Dedication implies taking the risk to learn and master something new.  Perseverance implies failure, then getting back up, going back into the game, dusting ourselves off and trying again, and again, and again.

Some people, including me, when first trying meditation, mindfulness or other contemplative exercises find it difficult to slow our minds down, much less clear them of random thoughts and distractions.  However when we begin with small steps and stay with it regularly and long enough we learn it's OK and natural to have thoughts and distractions do occur.  Letting go of them as they come is like getting back up on the skis or skates over and over again.  

The next thing we know 5 minutes a day becomes 10 becomes 30.  And even though the thoughts and distractions keep coming we become more adept at letting them go.  Then one day we realize we're noticing things in our daily lives we've never seen, heard, felt, or tasted before.  We're flying down the slope and spinning in the middle of the rink!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Winter Wonder

Today, where I am it's cold with a wintry mix in the air and a thin coat of ice on trees and plants.  So far this winter much of North America continues to experience an unusual series of arctic fronts bringing cold temperatures, snow and ice to places that don't normally have such weather.  And the places that do are getting more than usual of it.

Winter is nature's way of slowing us down and forcing us to pay attention.  We spend more time inside to stay warm and dry which leads to opportunities for quiet, still activities like reading and sipping a hot drink.  During these times we seem to think longer, deeper thoughts.

When we do go outside we must pay attention to bundling up in warm, dry clothing.  Even walking down the sidewalk and driving on streets we must be more attentive of slippery, wet conditions.   Can you imagine walking along on a summer day and being careful of patches or puddles of sunshine?   Of course not.  When the weather allows most of us walk and drive along with our minds in a thousand places.  But in winter, it's different.   We pay more attention to our surroundings.

When it snows, it seems to bring out the playful, adventurous child in many people.  We want to get out in it, even if to shovel the sidewalk.   And if we can't get out, we love sitting in front of windows just watching snow drift to the ground.

Winter is nature's way of drawing us into times of rest, reflection, play, and wonder.  I can't help but think of the song we usually hear around Christmas:

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening,
In the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight,
We're happy tonight,
Walking in a winter wonderland.

Gone away is the bluebird,
Here to stay is a new bird
He sings a love song,
As we go along,
Walking in a winter wonderland.

In the meadow we can build a snowman,
Then pretend that he is Parson Brown
He'll say: Are you married?
We'll say: No man,
But you can do the job
When you're in town.

Later on, we'll conspire,
As we dream by the fire
To face unafraid,
The plans that we've made,
Walking in a winter wonderland.

In the meadow we can build a snowman,
And pretend that he's a circus clown
We'll have lots of fun with mister snowman,
Until the other kids knock him down.

When it snows, ain't it thrilling,
Though your nose gets a chilling
We'll frolic and play, the Eskimo way,
Walking in a winter wonderland.

Walking in a winter wonderland.
(Dick Smith, Felix Bernard, 1934)

The groundhog told us Sunday that we'll have six more weeks of winter.   We may as well enjoy it.  Wherever you are today, if you have a winter day - rest in it, reflect on it, play in it - wonder it!