In Defense of the Streams

There used to be a time when I accepted things unquestioningly; the Bible (and Ellen White) say it? It must be true. Simple days. I remember being taught that there was a gap in Orion’s Sword that looked upon heaven; surely even 15 years ago astronomy had already superceded that ‘cloudy gap’ observed a century before by advancements in telescopics, but by golly Joseph Bates and Ellen White said it, it must be so.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about right now, it’s okay. What it comes down to is this: I’ve grown up. I’ve studied conclusions I was taught–and some I wasn’t–and I’ve made my own. I’ve gone from an unquestioning tween with a zealousy to make God so proud He couldn’t possibly overlook me (and perhaps this says something also of my childhood), to a fiery teen with a burning desire to find in a dead religion the source of the glimpses of Spirit I’d seen naturally playing in people not because of the particular sect they were in but because of the people they were. I got frustrated with that one when I went on to become a striving youth eager to put that Spirit back into the religion, not realizing that Spirit doesn’t live in walls made by human hands or precepts. And slowly I became this: a wandering soul. I let the religion, and the walk, slip away. I lost sense of the value of ancient books though I used to study them with a fervent curiosity.

The first time I said, “I’m not a Christian any more,” it felt a little extreme. But the truth is, I don’t think I am–certainly not by the standards of many mainstream Christians. It seemed naked at first, walking around without a label. I spent some time looking around to see if I could pick up a new one somewhere else–Buddhism, anyone? If I were forced to frame myself I would say I am currently a Christ-Taoist–and I would point out that I don’t mean ‘Christ’ as in “Jesus the–“. But I have exhausted my interest in frameworks.

What I wish I could make clear to every Christian I know who is currently praying for either the eventual salvation or swift destruction of such outsiders as myself ‘tossed on the waves of reason,’ as it were, are the simple philosophies of Divinity. Philosophies such as God’s love for man and the utter impossibility of his doing anything less than the utmost (and we’re talking omnipotent here, guys) to bring every single molecule of his creation back to himself. Many would call it heresy to suppose that Christ already accomplished this – I believe It Is Finished.

And getting back to that “not ‘Jesus the–‘” business for a moment, I believe in universal Christ: Christ with all, in all, through all, and all with, in and through Christ. A simple Christian philosophy–but also a simple Buddhist philosophy, and Taoist philosophy, and I believe, a Hindu philosophy–and many others–and in fact more universally shared than Christians like to admit, and why? Because Christians are the only ones who call this ‘Christ’, and so believe they have and hold the One True Thing when the One True Thing was meant for All. Christians. Jews. Muslims. Buddhists. Hindu. Taoists, even. Paul quoted the Greeks when he spoke of Universal Christ saying, ‘in him we live and move and have our being,’ and I’d like to think that Paul wasn’t just appropriating the culture to his own devices but actually recognizing the validity of someone else’s experience of the One True Thing by a Different Name. Read that Again. There is another name for Everything.

There is a principle which comes from Confusionism called wu wei – it literally means inexertion–or inaction. Water follows the principle of wu wei: it flows ever-downward, it flows around things, following the course of least resistance, yielding to whatever stands in its way. And it always will return to the bottom, settling completely. It does this effortlessly, and yet water carved the Grand Canyon. The thing about streams is that they all take different routes, but they all have the same destination: below everything – the foundations of life itself. The water of life was not a meaningless analogy. You yourself are, primarily water, and your own energy responds to the world around you primarily as–you guessed it: water. Wu wei. We’re all destined for the same place. Another name for Everything.

Dear You

Dear You,

This is probably weird. I sincerely hope that you aren’t reading this right now – I would feel awkward–maybe even a little embarrassed to be about to say what I’m about to say, and still thinking about you like you meant more than 24 hours can tell. I would hope that if you ever did find yourself here that you wouldn’t feel uncomfortable or creeped out by it. But here I am, I’m listening to your mix-tape, I’m writing again. Thank-you–sincerely–for being the Muse that brought me here.

They always said not to judge a book by its cover, and then someone dared to ask how you would ever pick up any book if you didn’t judge it by the cover. I’ve made some assumptions. But the saying is much less about making your mind up about someone’s appearance, and much more about not letting your experience of that person be biased by that appearance. Everyone is worthy of recognition for their true selves.

I guess I’m here as a contemplative–as a ponderer. I ponder what happens behind your eyes and anxious-but-kind smile. But actually I’m pondering much less about you and much more about me–because you are You and well, contemplating you is your adventure, not mine.

I wonder if you were curious to know the stories you dismissed the covers of–or maybe you didn’t really dismiss them, but just let them overwhelm you with whatever-it-is that they whispered to you. I wonder if you’re more than uncomfortable of them. I wonder if I was too familiar, too comfortable with you, too…much, too fast. I wonder if this says anything about how I interact with people in general…or if it was just the mixture that was Us. I put a lot on the table, I can tell you, and I’d like to say that’s unusual but it’s kind of a pattern with me. Maybe I could learn from the stoics–that’s a philosophy that fits really well with the growth that I’ve experienced in the last year and a half. 

I told you that I wish you well. I do; I meant it–in case there was any doubt. I don’t have an ounce of ill-feeling in my mind about you; I think you’re great and I hope you go on to find yourself more deeply than you could have ever imagined. I’m not really part of your story, anyway – just a ship that passed–kind of literally in the night. You probably don’t (and won’t ever have the chance to) understand what that passing has meant to me, but that’s okay.

So it’s not much, but any more I think would feel too much, so for now I’ll just sit back, sip the ginger beer I made this week, and continue to take advantage of your fabulous music tastes.

-Thanks.