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Monthly Archives: February 2011

“I am a poet,”  he said eagerly.

“So you always speak in rhyming couplets do you?” I asked.

“Of course not! That’s ridiculous!” he answered.

“I totally agree,” I responded.  “Your definition of yourself gave it away immediately.”

“What are you trying to say?” he asked.

“I think what I’m trying to say is that, … we are all just Wallies.”

“And just who do you think you are?”  he snapped back.

“I’m not really sure, … I’m just trying to find Wally.”

 

The next day I came across another man.

 

“I am a prophet!”  He said eagerly … . . . .  .   .    .

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in the beginning we were naked

and felt no shame

but then we covered up

why?

how did we learn to do this?

who told us we were naked?

who told us we needed to cover up?

what was unleashed?

what changed?

were we bitten?

if so, what was injected?

a provocative thought?

or the burden of a new reality?

a new dimension opened up

one there all the time …

or was it?

so here we stand

not wanting to be exposed

but this is what we are

or are we?

and as time turns so do we it seems

and now we seem to feel less shame

or do we?

or have we learned other realities

but then who taught us?

now we seem to flaunt our nakedness almost as a trophy

a symbol of personal achievement and public status

we lure others to peek

we try to distract towards us

but we don’t really want them to see

… or do we?

they leer to see

our heads cannot keep from turning

we cannot close our eyes

and if we do

we find

the mind?

which clearly needs no eyes to see

we paint the cup

filled with poison

a cup on display

an ornament of the soul

maybe we feel more shame?

shame drowned out

the game goes on

the door is left ajar

yet the security chain is in place.

we are safe .. or so we think?

so we think again … or do we?

touch with your eyes only

the brighter the outer light the darker the inner darkness

the game of seek and hide

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The sole survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, virtually barren, uninhabited island.  He prayed desperately for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming.  Exhausted and disillusioned he eventually managed to build a little hut out of the last remaining shreds of driftwood he could gather from the beach to try protect himself from the elements.  But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived back at his lean-to hut to find his only source of protection in flames with smoke rolling up into the sky.

This was far too much for him to bear.  The worst possible thing had now happened.  He was a totally broken man.  Everything appeared lost.  He was stunned with grief and despair, even anger.  At last, after a lonely, bitter, aching spell of  tearing grief and disbelief he broke his anguished silence, “God, how could you do this to me!” he screamed into the night sky.

Early the next day, after a long,  dark, cold and unforgiving night, he was awakened by the sight and sound of a ship that was slowly approaching the island. It had come to rescue him.

“How on earth did you know I was here?” asked the exhausted man of his rescuers after they had lifted him off his island of doom.

“We never even knew there was an island here …  we saw your smoke signal,” they replied.

Simple fingerprints and footprints are a sign of our uniqueness.  Only we can leave our prints in the sands of time and space, even eternity.  Only we can touch the world like we can.  If we don’t it simply won’t happen.  If another places their print on ours both smudge, both are spoiled.  There is no hope of redemption in this.

Only we can touch our world and leave our unique mark.  To try replicate or even copy another, no matter how noble or worthy that person may be is an abdication, even an attack on our own uniqueness, our own integrity, theirs too.

By so doing we relegate ourselves into worthless shadows of the person we think, or vainly hope we’d like to be.

_________________________________

Real messengers of truth and righteousness agitate and stimulate the soil, ploughing up fallow ground, uprooting old and entrenched systems and dislodging destructive alien life forms.  Their message is mostly not initially at all pleasant to the hearer.  Their message mostly demands far more than the hearer can do for themselves.  Real messengers sew seeds that build into the lives of others, laying fluid foundations of liberty that will stand in any circumstance.  They do not spin fanciful yarns which tickle the ears of the shallow of heart nor stimulate the sensually indulgent.  They do not say things of convenience which the self-centred, lukewarm masses desire,  … in fact, what they even demand to hear.   Real messengers of truth and righteousness are usually very misunderstood, scorned and marginalised.  Popular they are not.  Mostly they live outside of the normal ranks, not because they seek solitude or separation but because it is thrust upon them.  They almost exclusively do not find themselves in prominent positions in society and if they do it is an extremely uncomfortable fit.  Usually these messengers of light and peace pay dearly for this service, even to the cost of their own lives.

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to hold in our hand and gaze upon

that which lies beneath

the secret things kept hidden from view

yet now the nakedness is exposed

not to lure mind you,

but to know

after all,

we are professionals, are we not

turned upside down repeatedly

leaving no turn unstoned

 

no guessing permitted

the eye must behold

the hand must touch repeatedly

a brutal caress

not unlike in the garden

when flesh was uncovered

a game of seek and then hide

the personal benefits of the desire for wisdom

the sensations of desire unfurled

then locked away in self absorbed reflection

pleasures to behold

sustenance assured

we will not die, we will live

what is there to know that we cannot?

who said we can’t?

 

yet in the centre

just an arms length away but out of reach

a temptation

then we had faith to see

and desire to dream

but not any more

now we have faith no more

and we cannot see

but our eyes are open

the vision of a future state

now lies locked in the past

 

we had challenged the worlds unseen

and now are banished

we see only what is before us

that is all we can

mere leaves of covering

hiding in the shadows

superficial coverings of our reproductivity

our seed productive after its own only

once fluid and unashamed

now shrouded in shame

 

and we dare not venture out

unless we put our hands on it

and feel the scars

we won’t believe

we can’t

 

we drag it down and define the indefinable

according to our dim view

from our own coordinates

the vastness above takes its bearings

our symbols are placed below the foundations

the plumbline shudders

yet the measurements continue

the tower goes up

and we scatter ourselves

bringing ourselves together in division

like the sand on the shore our tongues shift

ever restless

definition is vague

yet we continue

 

the garden

now shrouded in myth

wouldn’t it be delightful…

but no, it can’t be

we have no proof

______________________

 

 

 

Of late a friend and I have been having a very stimulating discussion on the issue of faith and empiricism.  Now I know this is a very hot topic for many but nevertheless, I thought that I’d give it a little bit of air anyway in the hope of perhaps generating a little bit of discussion.

To start with maybe the fact that I said faith and empiricism and not faith vs empiricism might prove itself to be an interesting point (which might or might not unfold later?).  I am very aware that many seem to see this as an either/or debate but I propose that it is not necessarily a mutually exclusive issue.  In fact it might well be the case that both views end up as co-detainees on the disqualified list or in the ‘cooler’ or ‘sin-bin’ much like our somewhat overzealous Super 15 rugby Rambo’s who tend to overextend their interpretations of the letter of the law to introduce and include the spirit of the war?  It may well be that perhaps one could also say that faith itself is practiced mostly on an empirical basis and that empiricism is run in equal measure on faith?  (although both camps would rather chew broken glass washed down with shark-infested custard than acknowledge as much).

There, I have said it …. and having said it I feel much better already.

In the new testament text there is a delightful little turn of events which to me places both faith and empiricism in the same fishing boat.  Jesus had an intriguing response to this interesting little event that I think warrants a deeper look.

An apostle named Thomas who personally walked with Jesus for virtually the entire duration of his public life and ministry was expressively doubtful of the claims of the others to the resurrection of Jesus after he was crucified and buried.  His exclamation was indeed empirical.  He is recorded as saying, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”  A more empirical statement would be difficult to come by.
Interestingly, he is not struck dead on the spot nor de-apostled.  He isn’t even insulted, marginalised nor attacked by the other believers (and please remember how the apostles would commonly fight amongst each other as to who the greatest amongst them was.  This would indeed have been real low-hanging, ripe pickings for just such an exchange of testosterone).  The even crazier thing is that the narrative goes on to tell that a whole week later Jesus personally takes the time to approach Thomas and bring the issue up again.  Not only that, but Jesus, instead of taking the opportunity to launch into a probably well deserved teaching of faith and doubt actually offers his wounded hands and side as physical proof.  The only thing Jesus says by way of challenge to Thomas is, “stop doubting and believe.”
Now, believe this whichever way you choose, but the beauty of this exchange for me is that Jesus never denied him the empirical test and never ‘cursed’ or even accused Thomas of any inferiority.  Nor did he attach any superiority to the others who ‘believed’ for that matter either.  Clearly from the text the only difference between Thomas and the others was that he was not there with the others when they all had their ’empirical’ encounter with the risen Christ.  The only thing Jesus did more than this was to proclaimed that the really ‘blessed’ would be those who in the future would be enabled to believe as a result of the apostles’ testimony in having physically seen him in his risen state.
Personally I draw great peace and courage from this, that whichever way we approach it, truth will meet us more than half-way.

For me the deciding factor either way is not based on culture, intellect, intelligence, breeding, or any other measure other than honesty and sincerity and an active pursuit of the truth as we see it to the best of our ability.
I personally have absolutely no problem with empiricism nor faith as separate methodologies (hence my resigned status as that of a faithful skeptic).  I do however, have an issue with presumptuous arrogance and myopia and the tendency we all have to mud-sling when confronted with our own doubt and insecurities.  I also have come to believe that I stand on ground that trembles with a personal revelation that even the most ‘pure’ amongst us (and I place myself 1st in line in this regard) are profoundly arrogant and myopic and that neither method is any superior.  Perhaps herein lies the ‘both/and’ proposal I made earlier?

But more than that, perhaps the respect and honour with which we approach life in all it’s facets might be the only ‘key’ that either locks or unlocks ‘revelation’.

… here beginneth the dialogue 🙂

there was this single triune being who needed others to become one

the act was outrageous and the few who heard remained divided

but when the dust had settled

there was a man

just a man

but more

a single one of many

and so the story continues

in the beginning…

 

to belong

is a longing of all

but to be too long

can overstay the welcome

 

the wonder

needs no tents to be pitched

no memories to be scribed

no holy days

to be calendared

but in the heart

the footprints of traffic

are indelible

and if scored by the heart itself

the furrows are smooth to the touch

as the same paths are walked

even if unwittingly

 

the scars of love

are the fruits of passion

inkless tattoos

cascading in beauty

written on spiritual flesh

for there is no greater trophy

than the beauty of ventures of fervour

 

and those who continue to walk

will cover more ground

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Once there was a monkey who happened on a marvellous thing.  A small mirror lay before him at the foot of a great tree in the center of the forest.  Of course he had never seen a mirror before so at first he was quite startled and somewhat fearful of the strange but familiar monkey that kept staring back fearfully at him and copying his every move.  However, soon he came to be totally fascinated by how the monkey seemed to know him so well.  It would mimic his every move, confirming each action, each and every intimate intent was magically guessed by this mysterious monkey.  It was as if this strange, flat and almost ‘other worldly’ monkey could actually read his mind and even seemed to know exactly what he was thinking or even planning, even down to the most random moods and facial expressions.  Slowly it dawned on him that this was a friend indeed.  A friend for life even who could bring great comfort and significant meaning.  After some time it also became apparent that this was also a wonderful way for the monkey to get in touch with himself and he soon began to learn many new things about his own facial expressions and how these led to express the feelings he had so deep inside of him.

The monkey was so enamoured by the perfect purity of the reflection directly before his eyes that he simply could not let go of the piece of mirror that was now firmly in his hand.  He would drift off and stare at it for hours on end, seeing new facets and wonders every time he looked at the mirror (although of course, he never knew it was a mirror or what even a mirror was).  It was such a comforting presence in his life, so much so that soon he refused to move away from it in any way.  He would sleep with it clutched firmly to his heart and he would even dream about all he had seen in it.  It was indeed an enlightening find.

Now our monkey was not totally selfish and eventually he did want others to see his new discovery as well.  After all it had made him quite the celebrity in his troop as he strutted about, clutching his strange, treasured discovery for all it was worth.  It was indeed a sensational find and he eventually tried to share it with the others but even when he did excitedly show his wonderful new possession to the other monkey’s in the troop he would hold it so closely to his own face that the other monkeys would mainly see his reflection in the mirror even when trying desperately to see themselves or whatever else was in the mirror.  To them it almost seemed as if the mirror only reflected our friend the monkey.  This communal activity wasn’t all plain sailing though as the monkey in the mirror also tended to cause some troublesome division in the troop and even at times some serious pain especially when the other monkey’s out of frustration perhaps, or just playfully, tried to grab the mirror away from him.  Sadly, when this happened the only result was that it cut deep into the hands of the other monkey’s as well as his as the tussle for possession and control of the reflected image ensued.

The mirror soon began to absorb godlike qualities to the monkey as well as the troop and all of life increasingly began to be determined and reflected through this small, shiny piece of mysterious, reflective glass.

Very soon the monkey became so intoxicated by the perceived power and stability of the immediate reflection before him that he was unable to disengage with this reflection at all.  To add to this dilemma he was now also unable to understand that the only way to really explore truth and reality in all it’s fullness in and around him was to take the risk of moving away from the immediate reflection he held so close to him, loosing his hold on his immediate reflective perception and taking a few short steps back to see what might possibly lie directly behind, and to either side of the small piece of flat, two-dimensional reflective glass  …  the same glass which he had now placed directly before his own eyes … so close in fact that the very image he had first seen was now somewhat blurred and vague.  Indeed, it took great imagination and not a small amount of speculation to recreate what images of the original reflection he could recall when he had first picked up the small piece of mirror found at the base of the great tree in the middle of the forest.