Embryo

O Lord, you have searched me thoroughly and have known me.

You know my downsitting and my uprising; You understand my thought afar off.

You sift and search out my path and my lying down, and You are acquainted with all my ways.

For there is not a word in my tongue still unuttered, but, behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.

You have beset me and shut me in—behind and before, and You have laid Your hand upon me.

Your infinite knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high above me, I cannot reach it.

Where could I go from Your Spirit? Or where could I flee from Your presence?

If I ascend up into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol (the place of the dead), behold, You are there.

If I take the wings of the morning or dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

Even there shall Your hand lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.

If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me and the night shall be the only light about me,

Even the darkness hides nothing from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You.

For You did form my inward parts; You did knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I will confess and praise You for You are fearful and wonderful and for the awful wonder of my birth! Wonderful are 
Your works, and that my inner self knows right well.

My frame was not hidden from You when I was being formed in secret and intricately and curiously wrought 
[as if embroidered with various colors] in the depths of the earth
[a region of darkness and mystery].

Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days of my life were written before ever they took shape, when as yet there was none of them.

~ Psalm 139 (v.1-16)

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Imagine a world with no words

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I often wish that we humans had no words. No ability to speak, or write. For I often think that the world would be a better place, if not for the presence of words.

True enough, words can lift up, bless, and inspire. There is much good that can be said of words. But how often do words deceive. How often do they hurt. How often are they misheard, misperceived, and misunderstood. Does the good outweigh the bad? Or is the bad so repellent, that it might be better just to not have either? To forgo all the good, in order to be rid of all the bad too.

I often wish that we might communicate by telepathy. I wish that, not words, but understandings, could be transmitted — nay, implanted — directly into the mind of our fellow. Clear. Complete. Nothing added. Nothing withheld. Perfect understanding. Perfect knowing.

Some years ago, I worked in the city nearest my home. I became pleasantly accustomed to spending my lunch break sitting on a lonely, grassy hilltop, in a parkland overlooking the Pacific Ocean. At times, serendipitously, others would come, and sit quietly nearby. Eating. Reading. Dozing in the sunshine. Playing with children, or a family pet. Rarely would any words pass between us. Only smiles. And nods of knowing.  

I was inspired by these experiences, and sought to establish a Meetup social group to encourage this. I called it “Alone Together”.

The idea was simply to set a regular time, and picturesque place, where attendees could come and sit, silently. Alone, and yet, Together. For as long, or as little, as each one wished. The only rule: no words. No communication, spoken, or written. Alas, I lost enthusiasm for this idea — perhaps, in hindsight, somewhat precipitately — when initial inquirers quickly proved to be motivated only by the most superficial — that is to say, physically romantic — of intentions.

A week or three ago, I met a lovely older lady at my present favourite lakeside haven of solitude and tranquillity. As I sat quietly on the grass watching the Whistling Kites nesting above, I heard the sound of a vehicle approaching over the field behind. Through the passenger side window, “Helen” began speaking with me about our feathered companions. Evidently she had observed that I was photographing them. Joy in this activity is a pleasure we share in common. I imagine this explains why a little old lady would approach a strange leathered man, in an isolated rural location, when his ape-hangered iron steed scowling darkly nearby might otherwise suggest a risk of his being a “bad ass biker”.

Although I did enjoy meeting and conversing with Helen, an observation has since occurred to me. The “conversing” part was entirely unnecessary. Superfluous. And in a sense, detrimental. Indeed, I can imagine an alternative first encounter — a Take 2 — that would seem to me to be far more pleasurable, and enriching.

In a world without words, our meeting might instead have resembled my Alone Together social vision. Helen might have driven up and, instead of speaking to me, simply done what she came to do. Watch the birds. Silently. Alone, as it were. Perhaps inevitably, our eyes would meet. Smiles would be exchanged. Understanding — knowing — would be shared. Just the essential. The apparent. That we both enjoy observing the birds.

And that would be enough. More than enough.

What is more, the not knowing any more than this, would make for an added pleasure. That of mystery. Of quiet anticipation. That some day, we two strangers might meet there again. And again share, silently, our mutual pleasure.

Sadly, I must confess that because many words passed between us, I have little wish to meet again. I now know too much. To join Helen’s formal birdwatching club — though I do appreciate the invitation — holds little attraction. To meet again in my — our — private place by the lakeside, will mean an intrusion. A slightly unwelcome, and certainly an unnecessary intrusion — the intrusion of words — on the very activity, the essential reason why I — we — travel to that beautiful place in the first place. 

I know this to be true. Because it has already happened.

I would much prefer that we could simply be alone … together … in a world with no words.

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When thou comest by thyself,
think not before what thou shalt do after,
but forsake as well good thoughts as evil thoughts,
and pray not with thy mouth
but list[en] thee right well.

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And then if thou aught shalt say,
look not how much nor how little that it be,
nor weigh not what it is nor what it bemeaneth …
and look that nothing live in thy working mind
but a naked intent stretching into God,
not clothed in any special thought of God in Himself … .

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This naked intent freely fastened and grounded in very belief
shall be nought else to thy thought and to thy feeling
but a naked thought and a blind feeling of thine own being:
as if thou saidest thus unto God, within in thy meaning,
“That what I am, Lord, I offer unto Thee,
without any looking to any quality of Thy Being,
but only that Thou art as Thou art, without any more.”

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That meek darkness be thy mirror, and thy whole remembrance.
Think no further of thyself than I bid thee do of thy God,
so that thou be one with Him in spirit,
as thus without departing and scattering,
for He is thy being, and in Him thou art that thou art;
not only by cause and by being, but also,
He is in thee both thy cause and thy being.

— Anonymous, Epistle of Privy Counsel.

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For silence is not God, nor speaking is not God;
fasting is not God, nor eating is not God;
loneliness is not God, nor company is not God;
nor yet any of all the other two such contraries.
He is hid between them, and may not be found
by any work of thy soul,
but all only by love of thine heart.

He may not be known by reason,
He may not be gotten by thought,
nor concluded by understanding;
but He may be loved and chosen
with the true lovely will of thine heart … .

— Anonymous, Epistle of Discretion.

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On the art of contemplative prayer; that is, of love meeting love.

Motorcycles, Mysticism

Naked stretching

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