Wednesday, November 27, 2013
For Thanksgiving Day 2013
All thankfulness has to spring from FIRST the wonder of being alive.
If we are not thankful for our own cognition, everything else in our experience is WARPED. We have no foundation to enjoy the wonder of anything, so we are stuck with mere physical experience - WHAT A BORE! What tedium! That boredom and tedium is summed up in a lovely little nihilistic poem, I won't bore you with it, but it contains humorous lines like, "No place to go but out, no place to return but home. Nothing eat but food, Nothing to wear but clothes. Nothing to see but sites. Nothing to dream but dreams. Nothing to think but thoughts" etc.
I live a gilded life, I am surrounded by people, family and friends (and I mean surround in love not necessarily location) who appreciate and celebrate LIFE, warts and all. Celebration of REAL LIFE is all the REAL Worship of God is. THIS is the means to be freed from the sickness of religion, that is, to be cognizant of the wonder of our cognition. After all its opposite is nothingness, the void, non-existence, nothing, not even an interesting fact to black, just blinding, endless DARK.
Those people who understand the nature of their cognition ( a gift of God, enlightening every person, coming into this world - the gospel of John the first chapter) His presence is the light that distinguishes the LIGHT in the eyes of the living from the dullness of the eyes of a corpse. This is the primary Liturgy of Living, knowing as Saint Paul said, "we live, and move, and have our being IN him."
So understanding that, that ALL experience, any experience is impossible without Him, what is our task? Should we not be at least thankful for "being." My mother used to quote Helen Rice, when she would see me drink a glass of wine (she was a holiness woman and alcohol was forbidden) - she would say, "It is not a sin if you remember that 'The joy of enjoying and the fullness of living, springs from a heart that is filled with thanksgiving." She didn't know the tie of that word thanksgiving "eucharistia" to the core of Christian worship (which also includes wine.) She was teaching me more than she knew.
One of my favorite verses in any Orthodox hymn is the following, written by a man in a concentration camp in the early days of WWII. "I was born a weak, defenseless child, but Thine angel spread his wings over my cradle to defend me. From birth until now Thy love has illumined my path, and has wondrously guided me towards the light of eternity; from birth until now the generous gifts of Thy providence have been marvelously showered upon me. I give Thee thanks, with all who have come to know Thee, who call upon Thy name.
Glory to Thee for calling me into being
Glory to Thee, for showing me the beauty of the universe
Glory to Thee, spreading out before me heaven and earth
Like the pages in a book of eternal wisdom
Glory to Thee for Thine eternity in this fleeting world
Glory to Thee for Thy mercies, seen and unseen
Glory to Thee through every sigh of my sorrow
Glory to Thee for every step of my life's journey
For every moment of glory
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age" +++
This is the Christian way, organic, encompassing every moment and every relationship, even those that are grating (Michael H.). This is the Liturgy of LIVING removed from the fantasy of spiritualism and fable. Tied to the concrete reality of EVERYTHING we do.
When I earned my living tuning the pianos of the elite of the elite musicians in the world, other tuners would question (sometimes with derision and envy) how I tuned so well and so unconventionally - you see I skirted the edges of all the rules. It was because every tuning was a thorough enjoying of the heart of that instrument, a blessing of the hundreds of hands that designed it, created it, constructed, broke it in, refined it, voiced it, regulated it, tuned it, prepared it for heights of wonder and beauty - a THING of middle ages technology, wood, wool, leather, brass, steel, dead as a door-nail pig iron, animal hide glue, or other resins, its skin covered in (literally) the ground wings of an insect called "the Lac," emulsified in the resin of trees and spirits. Sure it was middle ages technology more akin to the ancient gravity clocks than anything else, the action merely a series of levers and one inclined plane, able to produce motion from 0 to 80 miles an hour, and return ten time in a second! by the pressing of 7/8th inch of motion by the fingers. The harp held more kinship to an archers bow than anything else, steel stings strung over an iron frame, pressing down on a spruce sounding board able to "rarefy" the weak energy of the single string and fill the board with sound, capable of producing in excess of 110 decibels in the 9 foot concert piano, to project sound without amplification to thousands of listeners. We live truncated lives where we dismiss such wonder with the word, "Piano."
The intensity of my journey through that piano as I "tuned it" was artistic, using the techniques as tools like a painter used brush, pigment and emulsifiers. Most times when I finished tuning a piano, I ended the experience with "morning breath" because every time I tuned I ended up in that rhythmic breathing of the hesychast, it was not merely an artistic aesthetic exercise, but an exercise of asceticism as well. You cannot bring anything to near perfection unless you are willing to know it intimately.
Do you realize that last sentence includes "the mechanisms of LIVING as well." So many of us strum the strings of this life, bang the keys, without the slightest appreciation for what it is we are "acting into action"! It is LIFE, and it PROCEEDS from the Father, Through the SON, By the Holy Spirit, who is the LORD and GIVER of LIFE. Every motion we make inside the instrument that IS life has to be in "accordance" with its natural capabilities, or we damage it. One cannot play a piano with a sledge hammer, or a torch. One has to hold intimate appreciation for what that instrument is to play it beautifully, to coax it to its limits, to make it obey within the lines of its creative structure. The exact same thing is true of the "mechanism of our living" - composed of more than the material, an expression of the intelligence of its designer, creator, constructors, those who break it in, refine it, voice it, regulate it, tune to make it capable of the heights of wonder and beauty. Without that understanding, so often we just abuse it, damage, shorten and nullify its possibilities. We by rationalism eliminate aspect of it, deform other aspect of it.
OF COURSE the FIRST step in enjoying life is "intelligent thankfulness for what LIFE IS." How could it not be THAT is the first thing?
The joy of enjoying and the fullness of living flows from a heart that is filled with Thanksgiving. Happy Eucharistia - everyone.