The name for this blog comes from the Hebrew word merchab. Merchab is a masculine noun that appears most often in the Psalms of the Hebrew Scriptures. It means a broad or roomy place, an expansive place, a wide place. Read more...

August 6, 2008

new blog

So Ernest just set me up with this space in the blog world. He showed me how to access my new blog space and how to put up a post. As he concluded he said, "So, there you go. You have a blank canvas."

The "blank canvas" is the most terrifying part of any creative process. You stand poised on the edge of an abyss. You look over into the vast empty space and ask yourself "Is there anything there?" "Do I have anything to say?" The longer you ask the question, the less you will create. The creative process starts with a single step in which you open yourself to the empty space and allow whatever is within you to flow out into that space.

I am tempted to give in to my fear. I am tempted to fill the empty space too quickly. It is hard to sit with the uncertainty and doubt of a "blank canvas." Space is so threatening. Uncertainty makes me so uneasy. I am inclined to rush in with something, anything that will distract me from being in this uneasy place between the moment of facing the "blank canvas" and the moment when something begins to emerge. Sometimes the first step is terribly dramatic. Usually it is more ordinary. I start to type. I put a paintbrush into the first colour. I put my hands on the unformed lump of clay. The critical voice in my head falls silent for a second and a flow of light and life begins to emerge.

This "flow" is source of all life. There is an energy to existence that I can acknowledge and enter or deny and reject. When I enter the flow of life, I join the rhythm of the cosmos and find myself in the depths of God. There is a flow that will carry me, if I am willing to let go of all those heavy obstacles that so often weigh me down.

Jesus lived in this flow. He seems to have had an unerring sense of what was the next thing to do, where was the next place to go, who was the next person to whom he needed to relate. The question is, can I be as open as Jesus to the flow and energy of God? Am I willing to surrender those things that hinder me and inhibit my walking freely in the light and truth that is God?

Jesus' first disciples wanted to know "'Rabbi' (which translated means Teacher), 'where are you staying?'" (John 1:38b) In response Jesus did not point them in the right direction. He did not give them a map. Jesus replied, "'Come and see.'" (John 1:39) To live is to "Come and see." We must be willing to move. We need to go from here to there and then on to the next place. Nothing is ever fixed. The creative process that is our lives begins with our willingness to take the first step. We never know what step number two is going to look like, and certainly have no idea what steps number three and four will entail. All we can know for sure is that if we take step number one with openenness and willingness, we will be prepared for whatever is needed when it comes time to take step number two and the one after that and after that.

I want to walk with courage. I want to be willing to follow wherever Jesus might lead. I do not want to be locked into some predetermined vision of what life must look like. I want to enter the flow and follow wherever the wind might lead. Jesus did not promise that I would always understand or be able to see where the path of life was leading. Jesus promised, "The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it goes. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." (John 3:8)

Bruce and Sharon have just returned from walking the Santiago Trail. Sharon tells me that all along the trail there are little markers to guide the walkers. Sometimes they had to look carefully to see the marker and there were times when they were hardly able to discern which was the right path to follow. But eventually they would always find a smal sign placed there to guide each walker. Our markers are seldom that clear. But for each of us there is a path. As we trust the process and stay open to life and God's presence in life, we will know the path that is ordained for us and live in the flow of God's Spirit.

Perhaps launching "A Spacious Place," is the flow for me at the moment. Only hindsight will tell. In the meantime, I will put one foot in front of the other and see where the path wants to go.


Ernest said...

Flow. Thanks for that image Christopher! I think it is such a great image of who we understand Jesus to be. In his book Christophany Raimon Pannikar talks about the Trinity in terms of flow: God the Creator flows into Jesus the Incarnate who in turn flows back into the Creator in an eternal dance of love emptying itself into love; which is made possible by the Holy Spirit who is the conduit and holds the space for this flow to take place.

Perhaps when we participate in the flow we are plunged instantly into eternity, what Jesus calls the Kingdom of Heaven. In Luke 17:21 he says that "The Kingdom of Heaven is among [or within] you." Maybe it is here, maybe it is just waiting for us to open to it and jump in the river. Jumping is scary and it seems like we are constantly finding ourselves back on the bank and needing to jump in again. But having tasted the flow, having found the pearl of great price (Mt 13: 45-46) maybe life on the bank seems a little less real than it did before.

Christopher said...

thank you Ernest. What a beautiful comment! This is it!!

I never mentioned your response because I did not know it was here. I have only just been told to look at my comments..guess I will have to get in the habit.

I think your last comment, "maybe life on the bank seems a little less real than it did before," is key. This is what has driven most of us to search for the eternal, the transcendent, to search for God.

Panikkar uses the term "epektasis" from the Cappadocian Fathers - "we are also conscious of our intentional nature - striving and purposeful. Everything in us tends toward something more, or something else."

As you know, I am deeply bewildered by the mystery of people who apparently do not experience "epektasis," who seem to know no stirring of their soul drawing them ever onwards. "Epektasis" is my most foundational life experience. It is the experience most of all that convinces me of the reality of God and the truth that I was created for something more than this physical realm.

Keep following where that "epektasis" leads.