It’s Morning One of a new year. But this is only relative knowledge.
I’m at my window waiting first inklings of dawn, the subtle way the world exchanges deep shadow into enlightening hue of glory. My radio is tuned to Sunday morning American Indian programming and the host is relating different names the tribes have for the month of January. My favorite is “moon that blows snow into the tipi”. Living on a hilltop at the edge of the Colorado rockies, I know all about snow in my house. This makes me think about the language of experience. In some ways all language comes out of the need to communicate experience, and I love how words can reach into us, rouse heart or mind into a knowing of another’s happening.
Of course to do this meaningfully, there needs to be a common basis, a shared landscape between you and me – something that evokes an imagery beyond word origins. I like how writers Nancy Parezo, Kelley hays and Barbara Slivachave described this language in “The Mind’s Road:Southwestern Indian Women’s Art”. They say in part,
“American Indian thought is integrative and comprehensive. It does not separate intellectual, moral, emotional, aesthetic, economic, and other activities, motivations and functions.” Thus language communicates vision beyond sense evidence and is whole, which is also to say, sacred. Held within the sacristy of heart, the experience is beauty, harmony: not a thing separate, nor something to be used apart, but is spiritual self – you who are created in and for beauty. We know that American Indian language is very much based on the experience of earth and the individuals part with it. The speaking is always from the known of themselves outward. I love this ideal of landscape as being created in and for beauty – that it exists from the purpose of the creator as habitation, and not just enough, but in excess of need.
The language of Christian Science speaks of this as well. Beginning with the Creator, God, Spirit, experience becomes the outcome of divine purpose, an expression of the infinitude of Life, Truth and Love. And because God is the sole Creator, all being is, can only be, a reflection of the goodness of Love. But, you might say, there is plenty of experience that is not of this Love, even getting snow in your tipi says this. And I would say, if I am uplifting the experience by seeing through the eyes of Spirit, then I can experience a secure tipi.
I often contemplate how the man Jesus thought and saw through this human experience. The only thing I have to go on of course are his recorded words and deeds. From them it feels to me that he too spoke the language of integration, a wholeness not based on materialistic perspectives – his were scenes drawn by spiritual sense. So what was his experience of landscape? While his students and friends were gripped by fear in a raging sea storm, he was asleep on a pillow. While those around him saw disease and insanity, he saw hearts longing for, as the poet Rumi says, “the touch of spirit upon the body”. And what of the woman at Jacob’s well, the one of whom he asked for a drink, receiving instead questions of authority and excuses of separation and duty? Perhaps his request was intentioned for her refreshment; an experience uplifting her thought into doctrine-less living: living within the beauty of exchanges God to idea, and from a hope that is the river of constant Soul. For hope is not a quasi-promise of something waiting afar off, given only if you’re good enough, lucky enough – hope is the reality glimmer we see right here and now, a livelihood calling us into abundant happiness.
In answering the question “Are material things real when they are harmonious, and do they disappear only to natural sense? Does the scripture, ‘your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things,’ imply that Spirit takes note of matter?” Mary Baker Eddy describes the difference between looking to an anthropomorphic god to fill our lack, and an understanding of omni-present Divine Love which enlightens human consciousness into visions of Christ expressed. She says in part: “The science of Mind, as well as the material universe, shows that nothing which is material is in perpetual harmony…..Real sensation is not material; it is and must be Mental….Being is God, infinite Spirit…”
The questioner refers to Jesus’ parable of the lilies of the field and birds of the air that neither toil nor spin but are cared for; whose lives are free because the work they do, be it gathering seeds or sunlight, is experienced from within inclusive Divine individuality. Are not you much better than they, he asks? So the answer is not that God, Spirit, takes note of materiality, but that, as Eddy continues, “belief fulfills the conditions of a belief, and these conditions destroy the belief. Hence the verdict of experience: we have need of ‘these’ things; we have need to know that the so called pleasures and pains of matter – yea, that all subjective states of false sensation are unreal.” Mary Baker Eddy from Miscellaneous Writings. By looking with the visioning given of God, Spirit, we know a more substantial life; experiences that reflect more clearly the true ideas of which our world is an expression. But what does that mean, to say subjective states of false sensation (read matter), are unreal? Is this to say all sensation is wrong?
In her major work “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” Eddy writes, “Detach sense from the body, or matter, which is only a form of human belief, and you may learn the meaning of God, or good, and the nature of the immutable and immortal. Breaking away from the mutations of time and sense, you will neither lose the solid objects and ends of your life nor your own identity. Fixing your gaze on realities supernal, you will rise to the spiritual consciousness of being, even as the bird which has burst from the egg and preens its wings for a skyward flight.” The study of Christian Science, coming into the understanding of the Christ within, puts man and indeed the universe, squarely, surely, into the landscape of God’s creating – of perpetual harmony. And this landscape is drawn through us and realized in the language of Soul.
There is a concept in art, particularly sculpture, called ‘negative space’. This is the use of space around and through but not actually part of the sculpture, to further define the work; to give it a reality beyond its physical structure. Imagine you are looking at two sculptures, a horse at full gallop, done by two different artists. The first artist has studied the physical nature of animals, understands completely how the body moves. The piece is magnificent in its detail of function: the position of the legs, flexing of muscle, extension of the body forward and then recoiling in recovery. The other artist has taken a different tack focusing vision within conceptualized movement: velocity, kinesis, the imminence of action, outlined by the thought-force. This sculpture, more meta-expressive in nature, draws the viewer into matterless space of instinctual actionary freedom. You are no longer an object-being reacting to external circumstances: you are being itself, moving relationally with Mind, God, expressing full out freedom, joy, and identity.
This is the landscape Christ Jesus walked; footsteps through the Science (laws) of Christ working out harmony, and experiencing the power, presence and reality of Spirit Earth. This is the language of heaven.
This day, from my window, I exchange time-scape for a more coherent landscape; I don’t see the beginnings of a new year or of any doctrinal theory, but only the experiential light. The play of color, line and form are a dance across the stage of consciousness. I could make this beautiful, but I don’t need to. Joy is imminent – “may you walk in beauty.”
I feel as though I’m trying to build a bridge, a way in to spiritual thought processes. Spirituality means diferent things to many people. And to some, nothing at all. In my work as an artist, and here I mean not only the learning of writing skills, photography skills, but also learning how to truely appreciate art as soul vision (for expression is what we were made for), I want to put faces to God. And you may think my use of the personal pronoun limiting, but She is so vast in Her Essence, He really IS Essence, I really can’t even begin explain. I just know that my own faith leads me to a synsthesis, a Goddess multiform in office. A God that speaks to everyone in spirit language which is heard in the ears and on the body.