Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Reflecting ...

Recent thoughts and experience of rain, of streams brimming over and of floods, have brought memories back to the forefront of my mind.
The stream that caused the recent problems at The House of the Open Door (HOD) had set me thinking after a visit there in 1993.

I wrote about it soon afterwards, and included it later in something I put together for my own children and for my godsons; other than that it has remained unread. Some of those thoughts seem relevant to whatever it is that I am attempting to do here, and I shall therefore dip into those earlier words whenever I am reminded of something that may be worth repeating. Reflecting on these earlier reflections may lead me further into something previously unsuspected, thus continuing a spiralling advance in my awareness of the journeying that has led me here.
Knowing that we are on a spiritual journey brings the recognition of stages in that process, and sometimes even a step by step knowledge of short sections of our walk. Reflections can bring certain insights but we should always strive to see through them to whatever may lie beyond. Whether meditative or physical, they are a form of barrier to the clearer vision of that which we seek. As we focus more intently upon them they become another form of that thinnest of dividing lines separating us from our full potential in the stream of God’s awesome loving presence; they place us once more at the very edge, the edge beyond which we must long to go.

Streams speak of our journeying through life.
An uncertainty accompanies their changing course, character and mood, which points to something deeper than the obvious effects of nature. Terrain, geology, vegetation, climate and weather all combine to make each stream the singular feature that it is, but between source and inevitable disappearance into a larger waterway, they carry a mystery. The peaceful stretch of deep and silent water, with the changes it undergoes to become the shattered and sparkling rapids or waterfall round the next bend, encompasses the thoughts which may come to mind.
As in all things however, - there is more.

Two streams have spoken to me in ways that left a lasting and meaningful memory. One flows, unimpressively and barely visible, beside a country road in a place that enabled the emergence of my true self; a place that became my gateway to so much of which I had previously been unaware. The stream spoke, and as I walked beside it the smiles increasingly welled up from within: for the first time I became aware that my emptiness was being filled with something beautiful and joyful. There were no delays; I heard it, and I understood, though today I have no remaining impression of what it was that I understood.
But (and this took me more than thirty years to find out) there is another, larger, more impressive and clearly visible stream which revealed only part of its message in the form of an ensured memory: a memory which, through its undiminished clarity, could remain alive while awaiting recall and explanation at the appropriate time. This was a potentiality of which I had been completely unaware.
My awareness of the possibility of meanings being given in this way, by a delayed comprehension, or ‘reflective revelation’, came as a result of that visit to HOD, where the stream that caused their recently changed circumstances, offered me, at the right time, its own reflection.
While there I heard Marilyn Baker, a singer, accompanied and assisted by Tracy Williamson. Marilyn is blind. Tracy is deaf.
The theme of the morning had been "Listening to God", and, after the cogs within me had slowly turned into place, I found everything about my visit had fitted so well into that context.

While there, I walked along the stream which flows through the garden and adjacent farmland, and began to think about the face the water shows to us. For much of its course this is not the stream at all, but only reflections of its surroundings which prevent us from seeing the truth: - that which lies beneath the surface. We are able to see some of it only where there is shadow, and where the water is deep we can still not see the bottom. The only way to see all that is there is to have total shadow - always assuming that the water is completely clear.
Total shadow, with its complete absence of reflections, implies total darkness, as where there is light - however dim - there also is reflected light. That is the nature of illumination.
But in total darkness we can see nothing of the stream. It is only through coming to a realisation of this blindness that we can begin to think and feel beyond the reflections that so readily swamp our senses. Illuminate from without, and by seeing the reflections on the surface, we at least know where the stream is. Illuminate from within, and we become able to see everything, especially if darkness covers all else.

Likewise, with our seeing God, each other, and even ourselves. It is only when things are lit from within that we can see clearly.
The same applies to situations around us. It is only when places, events, people and relationships are lit from within by the Holy Spirit that we can see clearly and begin to understand in God's way, rather than the way of the world. It is the darkness around us which, though so frightening and lonely, enables us to see beyond the surface with all its misleading and distracting reflections.

The dark and the cold: the desert through which we pass at times, is as the shadow of God's cloak thrown over us, cutting out the reflections. It is as a hand held over the surface of our watery spiritual vision. Though we may feel God to be far away at these times, he has in fact come very close. It is He who casts this shadow for us.
He can be seen more clearly in this lack of light, and we can see ourselves more clearly too: our fears, our failures, our sins, but also our strengths, and the gifts He is holding out to us. The difficulty and the challenge is to overcome our natural responses: to keep our eyes wide open, both literally and metaphorically, that we may come to see Him in the clarity of these shadows.
It is within these shadows that we may sense a hint of that infinite simplicity which mankind has as yet been unable to grasp.

“In the beginning … there was darkness over the deep …” (Genesis 1:1,2)


About Me

Who I am should be, and should remain, of little consequence to you. Who you are is what matters; who you are meant to be is what should matter most to you. In coming closer to my own true self, I have gradually been filled with the near inexpressible: I have simply become "brim full", and my words to you are drawn from those uttered within myself, as part of an undeniable overflowing that brings a smile to my every dusk, and to my every new dawn.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

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