The Ubiquity of a Presence

Writing, like faith, springs and falls in seasons: sometimes daily, sometimes weekly, sometimes monthly …

And months have flown by since my last post here and “Fall” is now upon us – in glorious technicolour in my part of the world. As leaves fall reflections rise – ever-renewing the want to meditate, to pray, to reflect and to remember, and to set aside a little time to write.

Today, I think, it was reflecting upon the ever-changing technicolour around me that brought to mind one of Richard Rohr’s daily meditations at the end of September. Writing, beautifully and generously as always, in a piece called “Your Imaginarium“, Rohr cites Joseph Campbell quoting Thomas Merton:

One cannot apprehend a symbol unless one is able to awaken, in one’s own being, the spiritual resonances which respond to the symbol not only as sign but as ‘sacrament’ and ‘presence.’ The symbol is an object pointing to a subject. We are summoned to a deeper spiritual awareness, far beyond the level of subject and object.

Thomas Merton
Symbolism: Communication or Communion?
New Directions 20
(New York: New Directions, 1968), pp 11-12

. . . Mythologies and religions are great poems and, when recognised as such, point infallibly through things and events to the ubiquity of a “presence” or “eternity” that is whole and entire in each. In this function all mythologies, all great poetries, and all mystic traditions are in accord; and where any such inspiriting vision remains effective in a civilisation, everything and every creature within its range is alive. The first condition, therefore, that any mythology must fulfil if it is to render life to modern lives is that of cleansing the doors of perception to the wonder, at once terrible and fascinating, of ourselves and of the universe of which we are the ears and eyes of the mind.

Joseph Campbell
Myths to Live By, p 255
The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell

Here’s a vision that sets the spirit’s wind whistling in my wheels: ‘great poems … the ubiquity of a “Presence”‘.

Ah yes: always and everywhere, no matter the circumstance or season. Vivifying challenge to both the xenophobic and the theologically smug.

Would that all of us might find our locus in poetry’s truths. I’m reminded of some words in Michael D Higgins’ wonderful poem, Take Care

… Belief
requires
that you hold steady.
Bend, if you will,
with the wind.
The tree is your teacher,
roots at once
more firm
from experience
in the soil
made fragile.

Your gentle dew will come
and a stirring of power
to go on
towards the space
of sharing.

Michael D Higgins
from Take Care
New and Selected Poems
Liberties Press, Dublin, 2011

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