Worship the Mystery
Here am I, a part of the mystery of what is....
How matter came into being is beyond knowing. Some of that matter has become alive and reproducing- also beyond knowing. And some of it knows that it is so! Conscious, remembering, growing and somewhat self knowing am I. Built from the same materials, with much the same genetic code as my cat... and about half the genetic code of a banana!. How this all came to be- and what sustains it- is Mystery. Somewhere in all this perhaps there is something worthy of being called Divine.
But there is no God. There is no One listening when I pray- only my own needs and longings hearing my sometimes very lonely voice. To pray in such a way, and worship such a god is no foolish thing if it is one's best glimpse of the Divine. And far better this than an existence inattentive to the mysteries around us, or unconscious, or in denial. Or the hubris which thinks we will know All, or that because we think we know how, we know anything about why. The traditional worship of god as one's best striving is no less worthy or worshipful than the ecstasy of the geneticist speechless before the Mystery of Life. Each strives to acknowledge the unspeakable. And the best seek to become the most fully human they are able.
However, when doubting grows stronger into knowledge, and the first God becomes un-believable, it is a denial of humanity, and a failure of faith, to continue the old belief. Holding to the old god when there is no god is the way of the fool, and ultimately of the coward. It is cowardice because one who has committed themselves to strive toward the ultimate abandons the quest. They hold onto a god they know to be false because they are afraid. It is foolish because the religious denial invites one down a defensive path like that of fundamentalism into the fields of rigidity, dogmatism, judgementalism and exclusion. There are no green pastures here, only the parched stubble of long harvested belief.
When I have come to the reality of un-belief in the old, then I must find a new metaphor for the Divine. There is still a wonder in the world which I wish to contemplate. This new metaphor will involve the knowledge of science... the mystery of DNA and of life- all the wonder of the world, along with its pain. But what will worship become? What will replace the soul-peace of communion with God now that the old metaphor has lost its power?
Was the sense of communion and the act of worship always just self deception... a talking to oneself at best, and often a descent into stupidity, abuse and manipulation of, or by, others? Or can there be a new prayer and meditation to nourish the soul?
When I walk through the gardens each morning, I look up into a tree which draws me into its space. I see the three dimensions in a new way, with a new depth. Looking up into the green depths I am moved by light, distance, shadow and mystery. I walk on, breathing in the trees with eyes and ears as the traffic noise fades behind me.
The hospital looms over the edge of the garden. I've been in there to visit Terry as he lay dying, with his stomach swollen in a foul parody of pregnancy. At midday they had the lights turned off in the corridors and wards for a rest time. The grayed paint, the exposed cables and pipes, and the bulkhead like fabric of the building made the whole place look like a battleship shut down at action stations.
Perhaps I too will one day lie dying in there. I hope I will remember the trees outside, and the ducks and the lotus flowers. For whatever is to come, I have felt the Divine. I have seen the cycle of life. The riot of lotus die down to a hint of rotted stalk and then burst out again, hiding the water fowls' swimming paths. I have been a part of this life. Praise be.
October 10 2003Share