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Sunday, September 25, 2011

In the beginning, part 4

Lifesaver wasn’t the only one to wonder who Mystery was, where she could find him, how she could love him, or who she herself was.  While Lifesaver toiled to catch Earth human in her own forgetfulness, Earth human continued to toil the ground in his.  In much sweat, Earth human toiled the ground, battled the thorns, and bent down to remove the persistent weeds.


Exhausted, Earth human longed for a break.  He spotted a tree that looked familiar with fruit that reminded him of the tastiest fruit he had ever eaten, the fruit of the tree of knowledge.  Afraid he’d certainly die this time if he ate of this twin tree, he dared not eat.  Instead, he sat beneath it, hoping to be sufficiently delighted by the mere scent of the delicious fruit.  Then something amazing happened: a fruit dropped on his head!  This time, without even eating it, the fruit gifted him with yet more new knowledge: gravity! Delighted in this new- found power, Earth human allowed this remarkable force to impart its full strength upon him. 

Though initially delighted, Earth human found he could not master this force.  Gravity held a mysterious power over him, and he found himself drawn nearer and nearer to the ground.  As he toiled, battled the thorns, and pulled the weeds, gravity pulled him from an upright walk to a crawl. The more he drew to the dirt, the less he lived with the earth, and the more he crawled as an animal, the less he walked as a human.

Of dust he had been formed and to dust he returned.  Dust he ate and dust he believed he was.  No longer did he see himself as Earth human, but now he called himself “Dust animal,” made, he believed, of dust and darkness. 

Initially, he found liberation in the new name he gave to himself.  By forgetting the divine breath of light within him and remembering only the dust which had formed him, Earth human felt released to live at the ground where gravity had drawn him.  “I’m only Dirt animal,” he sighed and freed himself to live as such.

But Earth human could not live as Dirt animal without suffering.  Indeed, he could live as Dirt animal no more than an orange could live as an apple.  So his toil, misery, dissention with Life-saver, and conflicts with other men he also called dirt animals continued to strengthen.  The more he toiled, battled thorns, fought the weeds, and warred with others, the more power gravity exerted upon him.  Finally, he called to Mystery to release him to transcend gravity.  Sitting in silence for some time, Earth human vowed to pester Mystery day and night for as long as it took.

One day while toiling and crying, Earth human heard a whisper through the breeze, “To transcend gravity, you must die.”


The message of the whisper perplexed Earth human.  Knowing not what to do, he continued in his life of conflict with Life-saver and with other men.  By living in his new name, Earth human also despised himself.  Still, he did not wish to die.  Groaning, he wondered how he could transcend gravity, love himself, and live too.  Earth human continued to cry for a way out.  Another whisper startled Earth human one day: “To love yourself, you must know yourself.” 

“Now we’re talking,” thought Earth human. “I’ll be happy to ‘know myself’ as long as I get to live.”  So Earth human registered for a series of self-help and self-knowledge seminars, where Earth human was told he is great.  He was also advised to tell himself often that he is great, that he should make life choices as if he is great, and that he should undertake life with the expectation that he will be healthy, happy and rich.  Should he sufficiently believe it, he was told, then it will be so.

So Earth human tried to tell himself that he was great, he tried to make life choices as if he was great, and he tried to believe that he would live healthy, happy and rich.  And Earth human felt better.  But he made Life-saver mad, and his conflicts with fellow men also increased.

Whatever was the answer?  Could he ever be released?  Once again, Earth human cried to Mystery, and, once again, he waited.  At an unexpected moment in the field, Earth human heard another whisper: “To be released, you must die.”

“Die?!” Earth human exclaimed.  “Here we go again,” he groaned to the whisper, “your talk of dying.  Frustrated, Earth human tried to reason with the mysterious voice: “I want to live!  I want to love myself!  I want to be released from gravity, and I do not wish to die!” 

This time, the whisper replied immediately, and then it left Earth human to ponder its final words: “To love yourself, you must know yourself, Earth human, but to know yourself, you must die.”


To see how Earth human and Life-saver face whisper's challenge, stay tuned for the fifth and final part . . .

Thursday, September 8, 2011

In the beginning, part 3

But Sly Mystery knew in advance Lifesaver’s name would be forgotten.  “He will rule over you,” said Mystery to Lifesaver.  Mystery even knew his words to the woman would reinforce the curse.   “As it should be,” the man said.  “If Mystery said man will rule over woman, then man ought to rule over woman.”  Lifesaver balked, “But it’s a curse!” Still, the man didn’t catch Mystery’s ironic humor, even, or perhaps especially, when it was pointed out to him by the woman.

Even once Lifesaver caught Mystery’s irony, she still could not muster herself out of it.  After all, cunning Mystery was one step ahead of her and preceded the ruling curse with another: “you will desire your man.”  Lifesaver desired her man so much, she went to great lengths to capture him and keep him, and she found herself in a never-ending game of hide-and-seek.  Frustrated, Lifesaver turned to fairy tales, romance novels, and soap operas.  Meanwhile, she spent herself into debt on clothing and cosmetics  to lure her man into staying with her.  But she never lived happily ever after. 

In time, Mystery revealed his secret to Lifesaver: “Love me with all your heart.”  Jealous Mystery wanted Lifesaver to love him more than her man.  If she did, she could break her curse.

But Mystery was no quicker at romance than the earthly man he created.  “Love me,” whispered Mystery, and then he hid far in the distance for ages at a time.  Even the man could pick up a telephone more quickly than Mystery would send a wink.  “Who are you, Mystery?” Lifesaver asked.  “How can I love you if I can’t see you or know you?”  At least, if she chased him persistently enough, she could see her man, listen to him, touch him, and, best of all, be touched by him.  But Mystery went into hiding.  How could she love a being so inaccessible?  And how could Mystery possibly expect her to love him above her physical and ever so handsome man?




“To the woman he said,
‘I will greatly increase your pains in childbirth;
with pain you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’”
(Genesis 3:16)

When, nearly twenty years after becoming a Christian, I discovered the additional words to Eve after the well-known ones of childbirth, I was astonished.  The final words struck like a javelin into my gut.  But, thankfully, not one to have personally suffered under this most grievous curse, I spent the majority of my contemplation over the hidden middle: “your desire will be for your husband” or, more generally, “for your man.”

“Desire” in Genesis 3:16 is the Hebrew teshuquh, which is found only three times in the Bible: for Eve’s teshuquh for her man, for sin’s teshuquh for Cain (Gen 4:7), and for the Beloved’s teshuquh for his beloved (Song of Soloman 7:10).  Three unique applications indeed!  But when we look into the meaning of the word, we can see how all three scriptures can apply to it.   It is coded by Strong’s as H8669, meaning “desire, longing,” and it  comes from the root, shuwq (7783), which means “to run after, to desire, to long for anything.”  Just as sin was “running after” Cain and the Beloved was “running after” his beloved, the woman is “running after” her man.

When I came across this stunning scripture, I intuitively understood the paradox of “you will desire your man” as a “curse,” rather than the blessing we might expect it to be.  As a curse, it initially seems odd: What could be wrong with a woman desiring her husband?  Shouldn’t that be a blessing.

Certainly.  But not if it trumps the first command: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deut 6:5).  The traditional church would likely come forward with the easy, pat answer, “Well, then, love God.  You just need to love God more.”  We mystics smile, nod, and then shake our heads as we sadly move along and acknowledge how elusive such love is.

So this great quandary the woman finds herself in as she seeks to love God above earthly man is a fitting picture of the spiritual quest of us all.  In this quest, the Lord romances us, astonishes us, sends us into spurts of ecstasy, and then disappears for long stretches at a time.  Jesus warned his disciples this would happen: “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it” (Luke 17:22). It is, therefore, the life-long struggle that regularly evades us all.  It not only calls upon us to patiently persevere in a quest acquainted with dark nights, but it also calls upon the Lord to grace us with his presence from time to time.  Girl meets Boy.  Girl loses boy.  Girl waits and waits and waits for Boy to return . . .




Lifesaver wasn’t the only one to wonder who Mystery was, where she could find him, how she could love him, or who she herself was.  While Lifesaver toiled to catch Earth human in her own forgetfulness, Earth human continued to toil the ground in his . . .

Stay tuned for part 4 . . .
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