Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thin Times

I came across a question this week. A question from the dead greek Philosopher Plato. Here it is…
"How will you go about finding that thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you?" Plato, Meno

Those ancient words fit with this new season I’m in. I’m looking for something but it’s something that can’t be seen.

Is it just me or is Halloween becoming a bigger and bigger deal every year? On the other hand, I barely saw note of Thanksgiving out there in the popular culture. Do you think it’s got anything to do with commercialization?

Or does it also have to do with an increasing popular fascination with the demonic, the occult, and horror? We have no television feed into our home. It’s our way of avoiding the Marketing Industry’s 13 billion dollar a year strategy to target our children’s “need” buttons. But a quick scan of what’s on TV, or at the multi-screen movie complex, reveals loads of “other-world” subject matter.

The ancient Celts referred to this time of year as a thin time (I’m told). A time when the veil between the spirit world and the material world becomes thinner than usual. Talking about it with folks this week, I’ve found a resonance with that idea. People seem to feel that in this time of shifting seasons, the end of summer, when the last of the green has gone to yellow before all becomes grey – this is an in-between time. A time when we notice, in the midst of changes and shifts, that we are not alone.

The result can be quite distracting. I find that in this time of year, during these thin days that I can often become distracted - even more distracted that usual. Slips and trips occur. My head is full of distractions and worries – not to mention cold and flu symptoms. Does it have something to do with the cloud cover; the mists of October that give the world a mist-ery feel.

Instead of reacting to such influences as “disturbances” or “interferences” or “tricks” and avoid it by running out to the store to buy decorations and candy and costumes – why not turn our hearts and minds towards the “treats” of the other world?

The Celts turned to the earth people; the Druids to help them discern the personalities of the spirit world that surrounded them. Every part of nature had a name, a persona, a particular way of speaking to our hearts.

November 1st in the Christian Church is celebrated as All Saints Day.
The Catholic church has its saints. Souls of particularly great reputation; of super-human sacrifice in the name of love. The Protestant church, in its democratic thinking, considers all those who have put their lives into the hands of Jesus Christ to be saints. Marching on without pause from this world to the next.

And today I think the circle of saints is being drawn wider still. God’s prophets today are leading us to look beyond a human-centered earth to the soul inherent in each and every one of God’s creations. If a wolf has a spirit then surely there are wolves in the other world too.

Mark Twain said “If dogs don’t go to heaven, I want to go where they go.”
On a more serious note, I read this week from a prophet for the animal world who said “If animals believe in angels and demons, then surely human beings are their devils.” or something like that.

Is the idea that heaven is large enough to contain animals a new idea, or a very old idea? Is the idea that heaven is closer than we know a new idea, or a very old idea? Is the idea that souls and saints, angels and demons influence our lives a new idea or a very old idea?

As the hearts of this generation turn towards the cares of our home – planet earth, it’s only natural that we also turn to the peoples closest to the earth. Indigenous people’s spiritual knowledge and practices are being incorporated – with proper training and respect - into the wisdom of a new culture seeking to take the next steps in the turn of the ancient wheel.

These new old ideas can be used to exploit our fears and feed into our busy human neediness. Spiritual porn if you like. Or, we might in these days take the time to be still, to notice how close the love of elders long gone abides. The company of brother bear and sister cougar walk beside us - if not in flesh - then in spirit. The chorus of angels rings in the rhythm of the spheres and if we are still can drown out the noisy disturbances of both material and other-worldly distractions.

Here is a psalm that ancient people used to come into a Thin Place.
Psalm 24
1 The earth is the LORD’S and all that is in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
for God has founded it on the seas,
and established it on the rivers.
Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
And who shall stand in God’s holy place?
Those who have clean hands and pure hearts,
who do not lift up their souls to what is false,
and whose loyalties are not divided.
They will receive blessing from the LORD,
and vindication from the God of their salvation.
Joy and Peace belong to the company of those,
who seek the face of the God.

Can I recommend a website to you? Reverend Richard Choe posts one of his photos (amazing) daily along with a quote from a spiritual leader or pop singer or poet. That’s where I got the Plato question.

1 comment:

corrie said...

thin times. For me the thin time of the season is the extra thick time of the season. Fall is so beautiful, for walks, meditation especially, the creation for the readiness of spring, God is very busy in nature this time of the year. While the rain falls down in abundance, the trees and shrubs are already getting their food for the spring, God inplants that in the fall already, he finds proper homes for the animals, keeps the evolution in balance and repairs what needs to be repaired. Then winter comes and nature rests, the work is done and now it needs to be grounded, if you look, you can already see the start of s bud in the trees, right in the middle of winter, so much is happening that doesn't catch our eye. But God is at work in those "thin times" so a next spring is assured. These "thin times" have to be used by us to be Green Times, we should start now if we haven't already. So much work to be done, to God be the glory!