The World of Experience

So my coffee-shop pediatrician friend pulls up a chair and begins to tell me again of Oliver Sack’s new brain book called Migraine.   Turns out it’s not a new book, but still.   Then she refers me back to an old book on my shelf called Molecules of Emotion by Candace Pert.   Neurons in the gut and all that, which is pretty interesting if you think about it.   Then I recently read a pretty amazing paper by a new friend over on the East Coast arguing that there’s a world out there we didn’t create, as if it happens somewhere other than in our brain, a refreshing pushback against the postmodern locked-in-our-own-lens thinking.  And then there’s the poetry I read each day, the ancient Davidic Psalms and the verse of Milosz and Rilke, the prayer life I maintain, the depressive and ecstatic frames of mind that visit me in turn, and then I watch YouTube videos of Middle America Churches parading Holy Spirit experiences that strike me as authentic but nothing like what’s described in the New Testament.   That’s not a deal-breaker for me in terms of what’s actually happening, but my goodness…the range of human experience and the interaction with the divine is pretty astonishing, mind-bending, daunting, and frankly, given the popular notions of God, judgment, heaven, hell, and all manner of religious doctrine, somewhat terrifying.

What is true?  What is real? And where does the dance occur?  Out there, or in here?

I don’t know, really.  But yesterday as I drove home, and this morning as I drove in to work, un-created by me, light shone through brilliant yellow trees, all of it out there.   But it came in here, into my mind, and shimmered, pulsed, thrilled, and illuminated.   A sliver of a moon greeted me at just past 6:00 a.m. as I headed down the street to the coffee shop, a sliver I had no hand in making.   It’s up there, that round thing that circles the earth.  Maybe there’s even some water there, scientists say, but whether we discover it or not, whatever is there, is there.  Seems to me, at least.

Reality out there.  Experience in here.

It’s a dance.   God’s will, our will.  His power, our animation.  His grace, our opening of hands.  Our muscle, His Spirit.  Our blood, His blood.   Our song, His tongue.

Must the age of enlightenment end?

Does dance not have thought?

Must ecstasy and understanding part ways?

I stand mute in the audience as yellow sings, and as I roll to the edge of my bed in the five o’clock hour, I ponder and think of God.

He greets me, He laughs, He dances, He dreams.

We talk.

In the quiet.

Yellow leaves releasing themselves into the air, one more time…

Out there, in here…



4 Replies to “The World of Experience”

    1. Comment anytime, Julie. I’m glad to hear from you, and it’s obviously gratifying to know someone bothers to read, and beyond that, is actually moved by something…



  1. brilliant! to me, there’s no difference between inner/outer except in terms of perception. the dance takes place between them. i prefer to return to the point where ecstasy and understanding converge as often as i can, being somewhat of a mystic at heart. as an undergraduate, i studied the comparative studies of religion as well as philosophy and then went on for my master’s degree in philosophy OF religion. i find the questions you asked above truly fascinating and could talk about them and my experiences for hours! LOVE the photos!

  2. Thanks, and thanks for reading. Another way I’ve come to see this is in terms of facts and stories. There are agreed upon realities and facts, but the stories we tell ourselves about those realities and facts changes everything. Built and designed to be creatures of faith, the way we (in faith) see things and the way we tell our stories of what’s out there and its meaning makes the world.

    Again, thanks for dropping by…



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