*Rick Smotherman. 'Beautiful Foggy Morning'. Flickr
Traversing the spiritual landscape can be like traveling in and out of a fog. Just when you think the way is clear, you can go right back into the fog. This fog, we could call mystery. Feeling clouded by the fog of Mystery is humbling, and we learn of the darkness mystics have spoken of. The darkness is actually what is too bright to be seen, yet can be known in the heart. So, I will add a beatitude: Blessed are the baffled.
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Added to this ... is our inner confusion as we confront the baffling mystery of God himself. The God we meet in solitude is different from the one met in the [church] pews, and this “difference” sets the tone for all our actions and decisions as a solitary.
*Paul A. and Karen Karper Fredette. Consider the Ravens: On Contemporary Hermit Life.
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As all things are transformed in the Silence, why would that not be true of our images of Reality? Indeed, we may be surprised, having devoted ourselves to a path including Silence, so to find peace and clarity, to find ourselves confused as our cherished words for Truth begin not working well for us, as they once did. So, to enter Silence as a way of life is not a means to avoid this confusing bafflement, but to invite it. As I have said before, in the Silence the Truth will undress us of all our ideas of Truth. Thankfully, we grow to be more at ease with this, possibly fully at ease. This, likewise, can become a way we experience the playfulness of Grace, so we take these changes with humor and, yes, gratitude.
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Sir, some teachers say Truth is an it, some say a he or she.
The Truth is neither.
Then, what is Truth?
Let Truth be to you what Truth chooses to be to you.
I once felt close to God as a personal being, but no more. I am confused.
Relax your resistance; let Truth be to you what Truth chooses now.
*Brian K. Wilcox. Meetings with an Anonymous Sage.
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In a recent Buddhist gathering, after listening to the teacher on video, I remarked to those present how what he was saying was like what I had heard from a theistic perspective. The difference being Buddhists use mostly abstract images of Reality, while theists use personal, or anthropomorphic, images of Truth.
Today, reading the words above from Consider the Ravens, the words jumped out to me: inner confusion as we confront the baffling mystery of God himself. Yes, this is, as the authors note, one of the challenges of the spiritual solitary; yet, it can be for anyone seeking Truth.
The authors themselves speak of Presence in language they were socialized in: "God himself." Yet, in reading the book, one sees they know this, too, is a sign that is truly inept in speaking of Reality. Yet, we are beings of language, and we are, therefore, always mis-speaking the Truth, unless we simply choose not to speak at all.
And, likely, all solitaries and contemplatives learn the wisdom of saying little about "God" or "religion" or "spirituality" to others. While I write daily on such matters, I speak little to others of such. I have found it to be mostly unhelpful to the other and to myself, as well. I trust the Silence that I live within and seek daily to be intimate with speaks wordlessly of Itself.
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For those who journey in the Silence, the ones often referred to as hermits or monastics or solitaries or contemplatives, "God," or "Truth," undergoes the journey with him or her. We are humbled in not being able to keep "God" what we thought "God" to be. This can be confusing, this not being able to grasp onto a concept of Grace as we once did; we, so identified with a word, or words, may find that slipping away as the slipping away of That being pointed to.
This, likewise, is why I say when an atheist says he or she does not believe in God, that really means nothing to me. Apparently, even as a theist, the atheist has some version of something in his or her head, and I might not believe in that either, or I might.
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What are we to do? The Sage reminds us, let the divine Presence be to you what That chooses to be. What feels right deeply to you, in reference to this Grace?
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For me, I once used almost only anthropomorphic language. Now, I use both personal and abstract. When silent in the Silence, prayers arise in me addressing Presence as personal or abstract.
Yet, still, I, at times, feel a searching to hold onto this Mystery. I feel a subtle frustration, like the fingers of mind searching in the dark for something to grab and say, "This is it!". Yet, that seeking, too, is Prayer. This searching is relaxed by my relaxing. Often, then, a sense of gratitude arises that the Truth has become That to me that I cannot get mind around. Yet, I can say, with many others, my heart rejoices the more as the mind is humbled the more in the presence of Life.
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Sir, I used to think I knew God, but now I am not sure.
And why is that?
Well, after many years of meditation, I simply cannot feel anything when referring to God the way I once referred to God.
Friend, you do not know God less, you know God more.
What do you mean?
Simply become silent and consider prayerfully the following words, letting the truth of it be given to you: The less I know God, the more I know God.
*Brian K. Wilcox. "Meetings with an Anonymous Sage."
*Kelly Pettit. 'Herons 2'. Flickr
(C) Brian K. Wilcox, 2019