Thursday, March 17, 2005

A Meditation on the Atlantic Ocean.

When in the presence of that which is greater than ourselves, when we are humbled, reduced, burned down to what is of us and not added to us--it is in these precious moments that we come to know ourselves, truly and without illusion or pretension. It is in relief and juxtaposition from the crafted and flattering image of ourselves that we can comprehend in honesty and clarity our own weakness, and consequently the potential for individual greatness. For what can become great besides that which is small? The enduring human fascination with God, whatever permutation such entity might take, is based upon the principal of removing the self as the object of worship and instead perceiving the same as a vessel of higher direction: it is agreed throughout all spiritual traditions that the one who feels he is God knows neither God nor himself. Like a sick person in denial of sickness, we stagnate until we are ready to be healed.

No knowledge of denomination or doctrine or dogma is essential to this understanding; to merely look into the infinite swell of the ocean or endless expanse of the firmament--to really see and not merely factually know the power and longevity of such in contrast to our feeble and transient stay is the path to subsume the dangerous passion of the ego--to realize we individually can be reclaimed by creation in an instant without the same taking a moment's notice. In any such moment of comprehension and true humility we can come to see the essence of our brief, ephemeral, and transitory presence. There is nothing sad about this prostration; billions have come before us and billions will come after, none with any greater ability to preserve his or her own stay here with significantly greater efficacy than you or I. And I tend to think that in these silent epiphanies , and not in the clamor and noise of the active ego, that we realize our potential--small beings that can be made large not by keeping, but by relinquishing all that which is in essence worth giving: our time, our love, our dispensable wealth and possessions; those things which we hoard at our moments of fear and selfishness, with which we are never diminished by parting.

My idea of God, a God that asks that we exist in the shadow of his halo and not try to outshine it, a God that is present in the magnificent quiet of solitude as much in the frantic engine of activity, has its presence in the mystical traditions of all faiths--the words of the Hebrew Jesus, the Catholic Aquinas, the Buddha, the Bhagavad Gita. He, or she, or it, is omnipresent and undying, asking that in our bleakest sorrows and highest ecstasies that we merely be receptive--alert, listening. This God presents a challenge to us: allow yourself to be remade in its presence; be the ship to carry worthy cargo, and not simply the captain of an empty ship. It is this God that I seek, and in the searching hope to be found worthy.


Blogger Natalie said...

Very thoughtful post. May I ask what brought it on?

Also, I'm really trying to link to your site, to do my part for the ABA -- help!

Thu Mar 17, 09:15:00 AM EST  
Blogger The Evil Jeremy. said...

I have to admit I was cheating a bit. I actually wrote that when I first moved here after going to the beach for the first time on New Year's Day and thinking the whole grey-sky salt-air crashing-waves bit rather spectacular (that, and I've only seen any ocean like three times ever, so it is still rather impressive to me). I was in the mood to write something and bankrupt on original content so I adapted that from the notepad that I wrote it on back in January.

I'll shoot you an e-mail so we can get your page set up with a blogroll if you like. I'm glad you like my stuff; I've enjoyed yours as well.

Thu Mar 17, 02:32:00 PM EST  
Blogger Stacie said...

Your first time to the beach ever? Or just since moving to Wilmington? I've been fairly coastal most of my life, so I guess I take it for granted.

Great post - the ocean is amazing, especially in the winter. Enjoy it now - summer around here is fairly crazy, from what I understand. I moved here in August, so I caught the tail-end of tourist season.

Thu Mar 17, 05:51:00 PM EST  
Blogger The Evil Jeremy. said...

Hi Stacie.
My first time ever seeing the ocean was in Brighton, on the south coast of England, back in '96. Second was a week in Cancun in '99 or 2000, I can't remember which, and the third was New Years day of '05, two days after moving here. So I think living a 30 minute bicycle ride away is one of the most amazing things in the world.

I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I stopped by the Newman center shortly after five today to see if you were in, but, as you are aware, you were not. So happy St. Patty's and perhaps I'll run into you downtown (having the advantage on you of knowing what you look like from your AOL photo).

Thu Mar 17, 06:05:00 PM EST  
Anonymous little sister said...

I agree with the moose, very thoughtful, and I like the approach to thinking about God. One of the cool things about teaching in a Catholic school is that we sometimes stop to think about the world from this perspective, and we think/act on the world from a social justice standpoint. One of the bad things about a Catholic school, however, is that sometimes we stray from that spiritual quest and focus on rules, which are very human-imposed and not so God-focused. For example, I had lunch with some much older faculty members the other day, and they had a lengthy discussion about the rules of fast and abstinence (for the non-Catholics, this is when you don't eat meat and don't eat between meals) on Lenten Fridays. And it got into this whole discussion of circumstances and dispensations that was really far away from the idea behind fasting, which is that we sacrifice in solidarity with those who have less. So, I like your approach - more spiritual and less rules-oriented.

Fri Mar 18, 09:19:00 AM EST  
Blogger The Evil Jeremy. said...

Thanks, LS. A lot of the influence on my ideas comes from the late Fr. Anthony DeMello, a radical Jesuit from India, many of whose teachings were condememned by the Vatican in a 1998 notification. Frankly, I get more out of reading his reflections than I ever did from going to Church, so I have to disagree with the Pope on the matter. If you have time, look into some of his writing a little bit.

Fri Mar 18, 04:08:00 PM EST  

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