“Poetry gets to the unseen reality, that which is beyond the concept of reality, that which transcends all thoughts, yet putting you in there and then in some way giving you a line to connect you to the mystery that you are…”
by T. A. Fry
Merciful Doubt. Cradle me in darkness.
Let mystery reign over my mortal coil.
An easier route might be to harness.
The comfort of faith in a God’s holy soil.
But no God of mine writes in words I can seize.
Her voice like bubbles that burst in the sun.
Such obvious beauty, a clear diocese.
The spirit of peace from which I have come.
Into Earth’s brilliance, I bask in her splendor.
Neither fearful of doubt, nor troubled of mind.
Imperfect always, striving to blend her
Into my soul, becoming immortal in kind.
Behold the soft moonlight, bathe in its tides.
All things before me, in doubt I abide.
I have been re-watching the Bill Moyer interviews with Joseph Campbell and enjoying his eloquent discussions of keeping myth and religion alive and relevant in our increasingly secular modern world. For many of us, change is happening beyond the speed or ability of myth and religion to clarify. As the secular becomes an ever-increasing presence in our society, there opens a void or vacuum of common understanding, a communication gap, where we lack a common experience or common language to satisfy our needs for atonement, inspiration, renunciation, commitment, sense of community with personal and societal honesty.
The history and artifacts of all of the world’s major religions are filled with humanity’s greatest artistic achievements, in architecture, art, music and literature. These achievements are sacred at their core, and in that way contain a timeless human “truth” to enter the realm of reverence through belief into something greater than ourselves. The problems arise when religion becomes weighed down by the weight of a convoluted bureaucracy of the inconsistencies of the business of religion and the fallibility of the very leadership which is ordained to uphold it’s most sacred ideals.
“You have to break past the image of God to get through to the connoted illumination. The psychologist Jung has a relevant saying: “Religion is a defense against the experience of God.” The mystery has been reduced to a set of concepts and ideas, and emphasizing these concepts and ideas can short-circuit the transcendent, connoted experience…..An intense experience of mystery is what one has to regard as the ultimate religious experience.”
Joseph Campbell – The Power of Myth 1988.
So where do I go to find the sacred? Nature, art, poetry, literature, the divine within each of us manifested as love are all solid answers. The sacred can be found in the appreciation of life all around us, the appreciation of each other. Campbell expresses it beautifully, “I see life as a poem written from a vocabulary, not of words, but of acts and adventures which connotes something transcendent, which informs the whole, so that I feel more in accord with the universal being.”
So why begin with doubt and return to it, again and again in my writing? Every religion began with components of doubt as well as faith, doubt of the beliefs codified in the society from which the new religion arose. And every branch that formed from that religion came from both faith and doubt’s pruning shears as well. Doubt is a fundamental quality of reverence. It balances that which accept with that which is beyond our understanding.
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