We were together, I forget the rest.
The writing, today, speaks of communion in being. Being is union, oneness, while communion is co-union, oneness joining with itself. The Self we are, not the person we appear to be, is innately this union and, in diversifying Itself, seeks re-union with Itself. So, we are never and cannot be separate, but we live in the atmosphere of felt-separation, until we actualize our oneness in sharing heart-with-heart. In this, a community of two or more can be rightly referred to as a communion, or as communion. And this communion can arise with any life form, not only human with human, and with the unseen, as well as the seen.
* * *
Yesterday, I visited an intentional community of Quakers, as part of discernment as to my potentially living with them. This small group lives in a single home, shares responsibilities, and is companioned by two dogs and four cats. The four humans go to different weekly Quaker Meetings and range from more activist to more contemplative. I was informed, if I was invited and chose to live there, I could share responsibilities or simply live as a tenant. While worship is shared in the morning and a meal at night, participation is by choice. This means, the communion is based on freedom, not duty, and such freedom invites responsibility as a gift back to the communion. In communion everything is gift, whether given or received, and the giving and receiving arise from the oneness of those making up the communion.
This contrasted much with the experience I had previously in faith community. When a pastor, I could not fathom why persons and denominational leadership felt a constant need, a compulsion, to justify the existence of community by having an agenda to prove its worth, its loyalty to its God, to demonstrate its efficiency. Persons would say this was for God. I sensed God had little interest in it all, and would as much bless our stillness as our action, or more so. So, "God" becomes the excuse for the cultural priority on being human doings, while persons who are more attuned to being may well not feel at-home or welcome in such groups. Certainly, I, as a contemplative pastor, found no way to exist in the church cultures I had served in. Persons who need to validate their worth by first doing, rather than being, feel a need for a leader to be likewise, to validate them.
Yet, what if community, when communion, is justified in being itself, prior to an agenda, a plan of action to prove it is faithful? What if fidelity is principally the community being-together? What if to impose agendas onto the community is a violation of its sacredness? What if a trait of communion is that the communion trusts action to arise naturally out of being-together?
* * *
So, community-as-communion is first being, not doing. Then being takes doing into itself. If doing is first prioritized, then willfulness results, and being is pushed away by the power of action. Yet, being is not a doing-nothing; being is a movement, an action in itself. To be together is not a non-action, only different from what is usually meant by action. Being is be-ing. Essence acts in our being-together. Togetherness is the timeless act of being, sustained spontaneously moment-to-moment, without any need for intervention, which would mean interruption.
* * *
togetherness is not a static state
togetherness is something becoming something
togetherness is gathering
we experience this spontaneously
we ourselves are
a part of the gathering together
not separate from it
we are not merely in communion, then,
we are the communion communioning
we are the closeness being close
and this can occur
in close proximity
or far apart
knows no distance or time
* * *
Kneeling at the altar in an Episcopal sanctuary, years ago, a moment of revelation occurred, and that moment keeps returning to mind. In kneeling with others, in waiting for the bread and wine, no idea of what this ritual is or might be was present in mind. What was was the simple sensation of kneeling, of being there and then. In this quietness was the acknowledgement I had no idea of what happens in such a time of reception of the Eucharist in Holy Communion. In this simple act of receptivity, was Grace, with no ideas of Grace intervening. One could not leave disappointed, for nothing was expected other than the act itself. In this, the act returns back into the being, and the being embraces the act.
This is like the seasons. When winter arrives, if I see winter as something I do not like, and I dread it or grumble about it, I do not see winter, I do not welcome winter. I am in an adversarial non-relationship with winter, for I am not relating with winter. Winter remains an object. In this, winter cannot reveal itself. I have imposed on winter my feelings and ideas of winter. Yet, what might happen if I relax this prejudice against winter, and am with winter? Simply, winter becomes for me winter is, not is this or that. Winter will show itself as it is now, not a past winter or the winter that might become. A shift occurs from separation to openness, and communion arises with the openness. Winter becomes a revelation, fresh, never before experienced by me, by anyone. This winter, then, this one moment, is newness eternal. Possibly, I begin to like winter, but that is not necessarily the outcome. Winter will, at least, be less unlikable by my being-with it. While I might prefer other seasons, I will not feel a need to dread winter or grumble about winter. Winter can become playful. Winter can, in its own ever-new way, be a celebration. And I do not write this lightly, being someone who just lived through a winter in Maine, after arriving from sunny Florida and living in the deep south USA all my life. I have known what it is to live this, to allow the receptivity beyond like or dislike, not to grumble when getting cabin fever from retreating inside due to the extreme cold. I welcomed and celebrated the winter, even though it was not all-pleasing, at all.
Also, this way of living is much like love-making or a child playing. In fact, love-making can be childlike play. In playful loving another, two become lost in the action of loving. Having an agenda in how this must unfold, as one so thinks, blocks the spontaneous movement itself. Rather, action and the participants are joined in a single union. This we see, too, when children play. They just play. Adults may want the children to play for exercise is good for them, but the children are not playing as exercise, they are playing to play. We adults exercise to lose weight, for our heart, for emotional wellness, to live a longer life, to build muscle, and we can forget to let exercise be playful, without thinking over it an outcome. They have not learned that what they are doing must have a particular meaning. They are one with play. One could say, the play and the outcome are one; whatever the result, it flows from playing itself. Essentially, no children and no playing. The children and the playing are too intimate to speak of a division between the two. They are one. Children playing is not, then, children are playing, but simply one subject-verb, children playing, or playing children.
This is so, likewise, with my writing. Writing is, to me, playful. When I write, I have no outline, no notes. I have some idea to write about, maybe a story or a quote, then, I write. Then, the writing unfolds in ways I did not impose. That is, I let the writing and the writer work as one. In that sense, subject and object dissolve, writer and writing share together in unity. And I am often surprised at the written outcome.
* * *
A scripture I often recall, from the Gospel of John, speaks of this: "The wind blows; you do not know where from or where to. So, is everyone born of Spirit." Interesting that the word for "wind" and "Spirit" or the same word, and is the word for "breath," also.
* * *
The opening quote speaks to this openness to the union of being and doing ~ We were together, I forget the rest. The we is being. Together can refer to sharing as two subjects relating to the other as an object; so, we have two subject-objects. Together, however, in the sense Whitman points to, is not of this psychological togetherness, based on memory. The togetherness that is spontaneous presence is not based on a psychological memory, but is fresh each moment, for arising from the one Moment. If memory intrudes, memory is taken back into the spontaneous presence, and one is liberated from the memory. Otherwise, memory functions as a biological spontaneity, as the function of the brain is to perceive. So, if I am sharing with a Jane I have met before, for example, the brain is picturing that Jane, but a history with Jane does not intrude in the meeting of presence-with-presence. If I am meeting with a Jane I have not seen before, the brain is working differently, creating a picture of this Jane. So, the brain continues to function, but without the imposition, which negates the natural functioning of the brain. In such openness there is no willfulness for a particular outcome, and the sharing is innately itself apart from or regardless of any outcome. Better, there is no outcome that can be referred to apart from the being-together itself.
* * *
So, back to the kneeling at the altar. There I am. I have no theory of what this is or must be, even though taught varied theories and knowing different Christian sects have different ideas of what is happening: a memorial meal, in memory of what Jesus did for us; the bread and wine become, when blessed, the literal blood and body of Christ; Christ becomes spiritually present in this sharing, in these elements. In the moment of pure reception, none of this matters, for none of this is so, finding no location in the brain, in thought, to settle. The very idea that something has to be something blocks that something revealing itself as itself in the moment.
Yet, what if there need be no idea, only the pure reception, the welcoming of this mystery? What if one can be totally with the act, the movement of the ritual itself, and allow that to reveal itself, and that revelation be enough? I, kneeling there, did not need to have any expectation, being one with the movement of happening itself, welcoming it. In such welcoming, there is no separation, only union, and any idea or feeling can arise in oneness with the act of simply receiving, simply participating. All that is happening is seen from the one seer, the Self, not a doer.
* * *
This is why Pure Prayer, in the Christian tradition, refers to prayer in which the objectifying of God ceases. The idea of God, or God-idea, is dissolved in God as God-is. This does not mean one should or should not think about or have ideas of God, or whatever one uses to refer to the Sacred, only that this process of detachment from the God-idea occurs in coming more intimate with that Beingness. Then, one can project the object, here the God-idea, now with no attachment to the object as other than a thought, even if instrumental one. Indeed, whatever God is, one learns that God is absolutely the non-object, total Subject. Yet, playing with words, even in worship, can be a wonderful, childlike playfulness happening as revelation. God likes to play, and we can feel this quiet bliss of playfulness in the stillness and quietness of being-with Grace.
* * *
So, see, this is about living. Life lives. We are freer to live well, when we live with this openness. Our prayer, like our life overall, becomes a nonspecific expectancy. Hope becomes not hope-so, but an inner certainty that Life shows Itself. We live in this welcoming. If we face situations, and likely we all do, that pull us from this graceful receptivity, we see this, we allow the return to this luminous welcome. Life is and is, then, becoming revelation, always fresh, always wise, always hopeful. Somehow, from somewhere, we know we are deeply loved. We know not the somehow or the somewhere, and even those words cannot begin to capture this mystery, yet, we have had moments when reassured we are not alone, all we see is not all present, and, yes, Love is the gift for everyone.
Grace and Peace to All
*Move cursor over pictures for photographer and title.
*(C)Brian K. Wilcox, 2019