Tuesday, March 10, 2015

the blowing clover and the falling rain

In his "Divinity School Address" at Harvard, Ralph Waldo Emerson admonished organized Christianity for overemphasizing the miracles preformed by Jesus, while neglecting true miracles.  He said, "The very word Miracle, as pronounced by Christian churches gives a false impression; it is as monster; it is not one with the blowing clover and the falling rain."

There are two things to notice here: the rigidity of religious institutions and the notion of a miracle.  I want to focus on the latter.  

The blowing clover and the falling rain.  These are the true miracles, Emerson is saying.  Life, death and the beauty between; the dark enigma of what lies before and after.  These are the ineffable mysteries tangling the tongues of poets and stoking the fire of philosophers, twisting the marrow of musicians, and feeding the wanderlust of mystics and seekers.

Life, unfolding outwards from within, as all of life does, like a frond opening, a universe expanding, like a fetus derived from one fertilized egg unfolds outward into bones, blood, nerves, and hair.  Even before the cells divide, the DNA within a single cell first replicates itself--something comes out of nothing, form from formlessness.  Life isn't the only unfolding enterprise.  Even the inroganic rocks on the Earth's crust are churned out of the great molten belly of the planet, spilling out onto the ocean and land, cooling into an array of colors and densities.

Verse 14 of the Tao Te Ching:

See the invisible, Listen to the inaudible and grasp the intangible.
This invisible, inaudible and intangible is undefinable.
Thus unified, it is the One,
Nothing is brighter, nothing is dimmer,
Underminate, it is unnameable.
Ultimately it is Nothing.
This is the condition of the conditionless,
The form of the formless,
It is beyond all descriptions.
Welcome this invisible at the beginning,
Follow this invisible to the end.
Holding onto the Ancient Tao,
Still now is the principle of all beings,
Being aware of the Primordial “Beginning,” it is the Tao.

The form and the formless.  The miracle of anything at all, of Nothing as well, of the interplay between.  These are the true miracles, not water and wine, not fish and bread multiplied.  The profound and fierce beauty in the seemingly ordinary is a miracle.  The feather pen on my desk, the paper, pressed and polished bodies of trees, these are miracles.  The blowing clover in the afternoon wind, the music of the falling rain.


Rich Pauloo
March 10, 2015

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