Saturday, May 28, 2011
A Year in the Life ...
"There are places I'll remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all.'
Sometimes I can't help but feel as if life itself isn't worth the living. For all the lessons and all the purpose, just existing makes dying look easy. After all, in the end it doesn’t really matter. Nothing matters. As we strut about on this stage, it seems, that we mean little in relation to the vast universe and the God we believe to be within it.
We have little choice but to grasp to our own sense of creation in a sea of desolation. We realize how truly alone we are while swimming back to shore. Nothing is for sure and anything we think might be is only a reflection off the water, a vision of something outside what we can see and know. All the while, we are drowning in our own reality.
We find a puddle and make it into a sea of love.
We really do take what we can get.
Since we know nothing, we shape our limited world based on both the collective interpretation and the personal options we are afforded through the wisdom of the ages and the knowledge we borrow along the way. We formulate, contrive and create our own safe harbour. As we float in a salt ocean of all the things we believe to be true, the tidal wave comes. Events in our life can be like a tsunami; one motion strips our world away.
You start from nothing, you exist in nothing and then you see nothing in all its force.
Suddenly, the world we know is gone, lost without a trace to the random digressions of that same universe and the God we crown the master of it. We are left with less than we had before, a difficult feat since we really have nothing to begin with. We walk onto shore, dry ourselves off and try to go on as the rain starts to fall. We search for the safety and shelter we call our home and begin all over once more. We forget that the hardest part of ending is starting again.
'Drowning, in the sea of love
Where everyone would love to drown.
But now it's gone, it doesn't matter what for.
So when you build your house, then call me home.'
In the greater scheme of things, a year in time is not much time at all. This does nothing to lesson the affect a year can have on us. A year in the life of a human being can be complex, difficult and stifling. A year in the life of a human being can be rewarding, productive and fulfilling. Each person must face their finite amount of time with resolve or they must fear it with abandon. Either way, we are victims to the constant motion of the invisible clock around us as we count down to our doom.
A year may seem like nothing when we place it in the context of eternity but this does little to assure mankind. Our world is constantly changing, a flux, and it seems that nothing is safe, nothing is secure. We only have ourselves, in spite of thinking we have each other. We waste it all just to watch it go.
Time is a constant reminder that all things return to their Source. The circle we call life is really just a death we don't think of, at a time we don't count on. We toss away seconds like feathers to the wind with no regard for the wonder each contains. We rush and rush never noticing there is more to this world than we know. When it passes we complain as to where it all went. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.
When my mother died last year my world changed but I did not allow it to end. In spite of the enormous grief that washed over me, I never blamed the water. Instead of sinking into misery I rose above and sailed away. Few of us recognize a pinnacle when it happens. We barely notice anything so this comes as no surprise. The event of her passing could have turned my life inside out with pain and anger but I found a different way.
Instead of surrender, I captured both myself and her in time.
I sat down one day and I started to write. I started to express my feelings, and express my ideas, regarding the questions I had about life and death and about God.
In searching I found myself and, in so doing, became more aware.
I could have easily drifted out on the ocean, no shoreline in sight to point my way. Instead, I took all I've known, and all I have experienced, and I used it. I used it to help myself, to help my family (especially my father) and to help others. I turned to God in the hope that He would lead me and, in so doing, found mercy I could drink from and a freedom from the river of my despair. Still, the rains came down and the floods came up. I did not let the water come and carry me away, I let it wash me clean.
‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?'
If everything is nothing then nothing must be Everything.
This is much to explain but it is true none the less. This world around us is just an illusion, an illusion hiding a greater reality than our own. Some call this God, others call it heaven, some even call it oblivion, but it is there none the less. Our limitations restrict our ability to comprehend this other worldly force but it is constant, lingering, waiting for us just outside our dreams.
You cannot know the unknowable.
It flows in the wind and it comes with the rain. It is mercy and mayhem and light. It is there in the darkness and there in morning, as the mockingbird revels in the glory of all this creation. The silent whispers we hear in the night are echoes calling out to each one of us. We hear them all the same but we do not listen. We forget that if anything good happens in life it comes from this unknown. We find it in the things we know yet we forget that above all things, first comes love.
Nothing we know or ever will know can explain it. Nothing we do can make it greater than it already is. In the knowledge that we know nothing, we see It in everything. It is there like the river and the sea and the ocean, ever available should we care to take a swim. You can choose to float through this life or you can choose to sink because of life. You can swim or you can sink but either way, It is waiting for you in the water.
'When you cross that river
The trees they will bow down
The sky will open up to you
And the lark will sing your song
When you cross that river
The path will follow you
And the winds they will caress your lips
And the fires they will burn strong'
A year in the life of a heretic is much the same as a year in the life of any other person, minus the guarantees a faith structure can give you. Each moment we all spend trying to survive a God that demands more than He gives. We try to find some balance using what faith we have left and in this we find a most powerful tool. While we use faith, it serves no other purpose but to nurture our ideas about the existence of a deity beyond our understanding. We must reach for something or we fall for anything.
We need faith. It guides us and brings comfort in the storms. That is what faith is meant to do. It does not offer any answers but it connects us to something greater, something gone in the wind but lingering in a song. Therein the lesson.
From a song we express our sorrow as we tell tales from the highway we have travelled on. There is affirmation in the truth we have come to know. There is cause and effect in everything but we end up preaching to the choir, trying to convince ourselves that everything will be ok. Like an animal social we cling to each other but end up lost and found. Things we cherish like our favourite time of the year allow access to the presence surrounding us. We think we see but we do not know that all are one and that One is God.
As if a puzzle man, we build our lives from a collection, putting the pieces together with borrowed knowledge and hope. This soul music does nothing but to reveal we can't always get what we want but if we try sometimes we just might find we get what we need. All we really have are memories and the resolved sadness that comes with moving on and starting again. The best is yet to come.
This is not the end it is just the beginning.
Believing in something beyond ourselves is the key. Don't abandon God, abandon your ideas about Him. Search for Him in the warmth of a summer day or in a book if you so choose. All we have is faith, the rest is just an empty prayer.
The only way to survive God is to see God for what He really is. We must give up all our answers if we are to discover the truth. We must realize that the anthropomorphic expressions we cling to are but reflections of the unconditional love offered to everyone, not just those who believe one way or another. We are saved by love not words.
To survive God we must surrender.
We must surrender to the unknown and we must embrace each other.
'This world is made of yesterdays
All it gives it takes away
And leaves you in the rain
The fragile faith in what we see
Will merely be a memory
Like lightning when we turn away'
Some believe in what they are told and sit waiting for the flood. Others jump in the pool looking for a raindrop then curse the pond for its futility. Sometimes I dream that I'm caught in a stream and the water keeps pulling me down. I reach out for Him but He pushes me in and I wake just before I drown.
'God's love is like a river
At every turn and every bend
And faith in Him will turn your heart around
'Cause even though we sin,
There's forgiveness in the end
And the river's gonna keep on rolling on
Keep on rollin' to the ocean
Keep on rollin' to the sea
Keep on rollin' 'till the love we need
Washes over you and me'
In My Life, The Beatles (audio)
from 'Rubber Soul' / 1965
Sara, Fleetwood Mac (live)
from 'Tusk' / 1979
Blessings, Laura Story (audio)
from 'Blessings' / 2011
The River, Rankin Family (video)
from 'Endless Seasons' / 1995
Save Me, Michael English (live)
from 'Hope' / 1993
The River's Gonna Keep On Rollin', Amy Grant (live)
from " Legacy... Hymns and Faith' / 2002
The End (of the beginning).