Saturday, March 22, 2014
“Wondering is a word connoting at least three things:
- Standing in disbelief
- Standing in the question itself
- Standing in awe before something
Try letting all three ‘standings’ remain open inside of you.”
“Words and thoughts are invariably dualistic, but pure experience is always non-dualistic.”
- The Naked Now, Richard Rohr
Perhaps this is a glimpse into my soul. Maybe I’ve felt this for a long time and that is part of why I find myself so hesitant to talk sometimes. Its on my mind constantly how words cannot capture experience. I feel words cannot do justice to reality, to faith, to pain, to love, to God. I sense somehow when I try to speak or write words (yes, irony wins out as I type this..) that I must try to simplify that which can not be simplified without losing a vital piece of itself. My spirit, more accurately, my breath of life God continues to give me, mutters unclearly about everything. And perhaps my goal shouldn’t be to understand or discern clearly what it means. But instead to simply hear it. To live and be present as it speaks.
Indeed even pondering something stands in this paradox unlike ‘wondering’. To ponder means I try to put words or thoughts in order and understand or comprehend whatever it is I’m experiencing. Yet the words I choose and the conclusions they lead me to are invariably tainted with my paradigm, my previous experiences, my previous conclusions. So because words are the foundation for so much of our communication, our mutual interactions, perhaps the challenge is not to negate them, or hold disdain for them, but instead to embrace them in full light of their inadequacies. Words will never be 100% true. Only basic, un-filtered experience is true.
Though I appreciate that as broken relational beings, as humans who, in spite of being impregnated with “inherent dignity and importance” as Richard Rohr puts it, by our Creator, have chosen another direction than what God intended for us, we must use our words. We must try to capture the truth and communicate it with these imperfect tools. Conceivably this is why we in Western culture and traditions get so frustrated, angry, rageful even, when we hear others claiming to be describing the perfect, the right, the truth, using such inadequate things as words.
Just think about our political leaders, about the religious elite, about the corporate CEOs. They can hardly ever agree. And instead of accepting that this might be more due to the defectiveness of language and therefore trying to seek greater understanding, they instead fall into the same pit and pitch their own tent in the sand, claiming that it will stand the ferocious winds while those of their opponents wash away.
What would happen if we all stepped out of our tents and stood in wonder together at the sunrise over the ocean? What if we all realized our tents of posture, ego, and pride are all fleeting and fragile and staked into the shifting sands of our experiences? Would we then turn and help clear the beach of these wigwams of futility? Would we work together to dig down to the bedrock of commonality and build a structure of solid love that would stand firm in the shifting sands of time, the winds of extremism, and the crashing waves of hatred?