Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Thoughts on Transcendent Joy

Sometimes in life there are moments of inexplicable beauty, of heart-rending joy. When these moments come a small doubt arises within the soul, “if I were to fully open up to this would I be lost for all time?” This power of this joy threatens to tear your soul in two it is so magnificent. It is a joy you feel way down deep, right there at the ground of your being and it floods the body with a rush of endorphins. It is well nigh the experience of standing atop the summit of half-dome, right there at the edge, and sensing for one brief moment that there is nothing preventing you from being completely absorbed into the transcendent heights from where you are perched, it is almost frightening how powerful this joy is. You become so absorbed in the beauty which you perceive that you fear being completely lost to it. It is a joy so completely compelling that you collapse to your knees in utter reverence for you-know-not-what. Here within the grasp of joy you forget yourself, you lose all that you are in that beauty which is beholden to you, and it is therein that you are found.
This joy is no petty porneia, no silly neon emblazoned appeal to your baser sensibilities, it is rather not of this world. It is not a voyeur’s attempt at seizing and controlling the beauty it desires, no this joy seizes you with omnipotent might and directs your heart as the winds direct the sands of the Sahara. It is no cheap print of a masterpiece, robbed of its original artistry by pop culture, but is the real thing, unfettered and staggering in its presentation of itself. It is not a flippant and wasted one-night stand, but is all the magic of the first night of marriage mixed with all the fidelity of a weather-worn fifty years.
The kind of joy which I speak is what mankind was made for. It is what the subscriber to Playboy, the auto-erotic voyeur, the pop-culture thief, and the prostitutes employer all grasp for in vain. It is not something that is far off that one needs cross a sea, or a galaxy for that matter, to find, but stares us in the eye each day and brushes against our cheek each warm evening, yet it is nearer than that. It is in us all.
The tragedy of all tragedies is that though it is alive to us, most are dead to it, and ultimately will die to it. Sometimes, as from a dark and forgotten fire, it erupts into flame in even the most deadened of souls. Its voice calls in the dark “wake up O sleeper and rise from the dead!” Its joy courses through the pavilions of the soul, only to leave the spirit of the departed groping as if it could hold on to the wind. This joy is its own master, and leaves traces of itself outside the soul, and within it. When a deadened soul is but for one brief moment illumined with its light it transcends itself, only to collapse like a dying star. These moments are for the sleeper a sign, and it points to what is beyond itself, outside of itself, and inexhaustibly good, true, and beautiful. The soul that heeds not these flickers is to be greatly pitied, and whose condemnation is just.
Yet to those who are aroused from their nightmare are carried upon it as the wings of the great eagles. It gives flight to their wearied souls, and carries them to heights ever unknown and ever longed for. It carries them to the source of light and life ere they are ever renewed and ever reborn in its beauty. This Flame Imperishable which is hidden deep in the mines of the mind of the Living One, and is that from which He made us. It is Divine and Holy Wisdom, the Word from which all life issues forth, and the Life which though it tasted death shall ever live. Give heed to Him all you who long for joy, for it is He to whom you must be lost, and it is in His transcendent joy that you shall be found.

The Boy and the Golden Coin

The kingdom of heaven is like a boy who lived in a run-down old house, in a run-down old town. He never knew of anything greater than where he lived and so had come to believe that life was generally a run-down experience. His father had left him and his mom when he was just a baby, and his mom was a waitress at the local diner. She worked a lot and he was home alone as often as she was at work. One day, beneath a creaky old floorboard he discovered a golden coin. It was dusty and all scratched up, but he could tell that on one side was some symbol and on the other was a face. He hid the coin under his bed and would look at it every night before going to sleep, he was delighted in its golden shimmer, and tried to make out the symbol on the back and the face on the front, but couldn’t understand what the symbol meant or see whose face was on the front. This coin he cherished above all things, and hid it from even his mom.
One day a good man came and knocked on the door while the boy’s mom was at work, and the boy was sitting on the floor looking at his coin. The boy hid the coin and opened the door. The boy was surprised at the man, who looked unlike any man he had seen before, people always looked sad and run-down in his town but this man’s face shone like a bright star.
The man spoke to the boy and said “I have come to find the one who has found my coin.”
The boy’s eyes darted across the room to the place where he hid his coin, then he looked to the man and said “there is no coin here.”
The man replied “perhaps not, but I seek the one who found the coin.”
The boy, overcome by his own conscience, said to the man “I was the one who found the coin, come in and I will show it to you.” Sadly the boy pulled out the coin from its hidden place and handed it to the man.
Then the man said, “young boy, I have come to seek you and not the coin.”
With an excited tremble the boy reached for the coin. Leaving his hand open for the snatch, the man looked round the run-down house, and looked at the boy whose clothes had obviously not been changed for some time. Then he said to the boy, “my child, turn the coin over and look at the face.” The boy did. “Whose face do you see?” said the man.
“I do not know” the boy whispered.
“Look closer.”
Suddenly the boys face lit up, “why its yours mister!”
With a smile the man said, “you are right my child. I left it here so that when it was found it would help the person who found it recognize me, and now you have found it and so I have a question to ask you.”
“Yes, ask anything you wish sir.”
“I ask you this child, to come and follow me, but to follow me you must leave the coin behind, or to say it again, do you wish for the coin of the King or the King of the coin?”
Immediately the boy lept up and ran to the old creaky floorboard, put the coin back, and said to the good man “I will follow you wherever you lead.”
The good man smiled at the boy, took his hand, and told him that what he had given up would be given back to him ten-thousand times more because he had chosen the King and not the Kings coin.