Primitive religion is not believed, it is danced!

Arthur Darby Nock

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

Elizabeth Browning

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Recently I have been reading through Sam Keen's book "To A Dancing God.".  At one point Keen describes a moment when he felt totally confused by life.  He describes his confusion this way.  "It was as if my interior space had been hollowed out, and boredom, anxiety, despair, impotence, erratic willfulness, and shameful self-consciousness were dumped in and agitated like clothes in a washer.  These demons whirled around my inner emptiness, their harsh screams reverberating and blending into a painful cacophony in the vacuum" (p. 16).

I remember reading that and going "Wow!  That's me!"  Maybe not today.  But many times in my life as my sense of dis-ease with myself, my journey, my life, has come oozing the the surface.  Escaping my careful attempts to keep it hidden.  Not just from others, be also from myself.

What Keen has helped me understand is that my dis-ease comes from my uncertainty about the answer to one very important question. "Who am I?"  It seems like a 58 year old man with two masters and a doctorate ought to know the answer to that question.  But if I am really honest I am not sure I really do.  In part it is because I have been asking the wrong questions.  I have looked for meaning and purpose by asking "What am I to do?"  I have looked for answers to the puzzle of my self by looking at my past, and hoping I could find others' to blame for some of the quirks in my character.  So I have looked behind, and looked forward, but I have had no clue who I am now.

It is not that I can ignore the past, and my memories, or the future, and my dreams.  But I must learn, within the context of my past realities and future hopes, to live in the present.  To be.  More specifically to be present.  To be present with those whom God places in my path.  To be attentive and open.  To listen and care. To put aside the way my past life and future hopes color my perceptions, and really welcome the reality of others, to accept the wonder and mystery of who they are.

In short I need to be present with myself, and others. Sounds simple.  I know all too well it is not.  But I am going to try.  To let go of my slavery to my past, to what I have done, and what has been done to me - to let go of my vision of the future, and the way it narrows my view - and be, with God, with the Spirit in this moment.  For it is in that way that I allow God to lead me each stop of the way, and quiet the chaos within.

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