Friday, October 14, 2011

seeing the whole in God: from M. Avison's 2nd lecture

"...the focus comes by relating everything to God; or rather perceiving God through everything learned, discovering that He is everywhere and always seeking relation with us. (Incidentally, focus, my dictionary says, is simply the Latin word for 'hearth'.) We still speak of the universe, the whole, without losing in that wholeness one particle of the marvellous array of particular, organic and inorganic, visible and invisible and well nigh untrackable. Learning, even in the world's terms, is vast; our capacities are limited and our time here very short. How can we catch the illimitable in our little bottles? Yet we must learn precision with particulars as well as spacious thinking across centuries. In practical terms we keep building between these extremes"

...We need all our minds and all our hearts and souls and strength (or bodily energies) - we need it all to - understand? to love, rather, when the object of our love is the One who is sole source of 'seeing', and of caring and doing and growing. It sounds strenuous. But 'nothing could preserve its own nature as well as go against God,' wrote Boethius, early in the sixth century [Consolatio Philosophiae III.12, iii]. The same truth is jubilantly celebrated in Psalm 148 where 'great sea creatures and all ocean His bidding,' i.e. where this kind of cosmic delight is a by-product of simply being who we are made to be - that is His will, His bidding!

...We say we 'see', at moments of understanding. But we do not see with the multi-faceted eyes an insect brings to the act. Our limitations, once we acknowledge them, liberate us to steady plodding, and occasional awe. One of Pascal's thoughts turns on an undefined 'it'. ('Be comforted; it is not from yourself that you must expect it, but on the contrary you must expect it by expecting nothing from yourself.' [Pensees. no. 202).

...The truth given in the Holy Word is a disciplined, but not a manageable enterprise. One of our craftiest evasions is trying to manage it, working up by ourselves from the living Word a system we feel sure will keep us on the rails all they way. But no system we work out from the inexhaustible wisdom of the Word will do. Truth is final, but our mortal grasp of it never can be final. The word of truth is living and probes us continually as we live our days and nights. It is a Voice that speaks, revealing truth: 'the sound of many waters', in one passage; 'a still small voice' in another; overpowering one moment, companionable as an aside the next. Some passages are familiar, we think? In the needy moment, one of those threadbare passages will become steel, surgical steel.

...Have I spent two evenings to say that misunderstanding and understanding alike lead to damage and pain? But is that surprising, since our understanding is always partial, a step forward into another part of what we sometimes feel is a maze? It will never be our understanding or intelligence that will rescue us. Oddly, that is the shining hope."

('Understanding is Costly.' A Kind of Perseverance. Erin, Ontario: The Porcupine's Quill, 2010. pp. 47, 48, 49, 50, 52).

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