Yesterday the sun caught the vivid red, lime-green, and turquoise in my quilt hanging, “The Riple Effect,” and today this poem was birthed. Enjoy…
photo credit: photopin.com ed. rhk
One spring day in 1949 a man strolled through our lazy Seattle neighborhood, leading a black and white pinto pony. I left my little heart on 50th St. in West Seattle that day. “Hey, kids, you want to ride my pony?” Duh. We ran into the house and wore Mom down with begging. After all, for just $5 she would have a swell portrait of us.
I remember that day as the happiest of my childhood- not the details- I didn’t know until recently that my sister had wanted to wear the chaps, but she let me instead. It’s the experience of ecstasy I remember. It’s there on my face, bursting through the dimples.
I also remember sitting on the floor in front of the book case at age seven and a half, ecstatic at my re-discovery of a book, If Jesus Came To My House. It portrayed a child leading Jesus by the hand through the house and neighborhood, pointing out the most special people, places and toys. I remember feeling so close to Jesus as I read, and the yearning for him to come to my house and stay. The seeds of mysticism planted. A remodled house now, an evolved image of Jesus; nevertheless, the same yearning.
Jesus arrived at my house the day the black and white pinto pony came, and every time since then, when I watch toddlers play, and my cat chase her tail. This old shaker song ,“Simple Gifts” was written and composed in 1848 by Elder Joseph Brackett. It says it all.
‘Tis the gift to be simple,
’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain’d,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.
“The eye with which I see God
Is the same eye with which God sees me.
My eye and God’s eye are one.
One seeing. One knowing. One loving.”
As a young and naïve theology student, I took a course on process theology, and it changed my life. Faithful adherents of institutional doctrine would say it changed me for the worst. You be the judge. This post comes out of personal experience. I walked out of that class one day and met a friend who asked, “How are you?” I replied, “Well, currently, I seem to be an atheist.” Laughing, he claimed that atheists make the best Christians. Subsequently, I spent several months researching mystics, and I regained God, in a rich and unexpected experience. God had become my own greatest potential already realized, and thirty-four years later, this is still my experience.
The church branded Meister Eckhart a heretic for preaching that, “My eye and God’s eye are one,” “All that is [exists] is in God,” “We are sparks of the divine.” Eckhart denied the charge. I have studied and prayed with this profound mystic for a very long time, and I am finally old enough to realize that he was indeed saying at least, that we are growing into our divinity. Is not a spark of fire, fire? It may not be the whole campfire, but when a spark flies up and singes the hairs on a camper’s arm, he knows it’s fire! I believe that God is our own greatest potential already realized, and we unveil it minute by minute, day by day.
By seeing. “My eye and God’s eye are one eye: one seeing.” Soul-sight differs from soul-seeing. It comes from God as a package deal, but we have to learn how to see with it. We can’t see a painting with the eye of an artist without developing an artist’s skills; similarly, we don’t see with our soul-eye without developing spiritual intuition.
By knowing. “My eye and God’s eye are one eye: one knowing.” Most readers of the Hebrew Scriptures understand that Biblical Knowing refers to sexual intercourse. Adam knew Eve, and they had a son….The meaning can also go much deeper, describing a profound act of contemplation. There really are not words which adequately describe union with God, but here is an attempt. Individual sparks unite to make a fire, until they become indistinguishable. The spark is the fire, and the fire is the spark. If we are to experience this kind of knowing, we need to identify the lost fragments of our souls, and bring them back.
By loving. “My eye and God’s eye are one eye: one loving.” Knowing leads to loving. We must learn to love our lost soul-fragments. When we do, all the pieces will come together in that acceptance, and we will know and love God within our wholeness. If God is our greatest potential already realized, loving ourselves is loving God.
Blending visual art and words and music are ways to draw us deep into the eye of God. It doesn’t matter if our attempt falls short of expectations. I don’t really know how to draw or compose music. I just let go and do it, trusting that you will forgive my ignorance! Here I have created a mantra and put it to a simple Gregorian chant. When I can catch a space, I sing it repeatedly within the quiet of my soul and it sometimes brings me into contemplation, at least for a moment. Feel free to download this image and make a bookmark of it as a reminder.