I attempt to describe more of the nature of THE PRESENCE, we discuss gender and pronouns, and we approach mystery by beginning with wonder.
Let me first say thank you for being, and for being here.
Now let us confront the idea of gender (and then pronouns). I say confront, because in Outworld there is some confusion and misinformation. This discussion is necessary because I deem it so and because it may help us understand the language we shall use to describe THE PRESENCE.
In Outworld there are males and females. It has been so since in the beginning, it is by the will of THE PRESENCE, and it is simply best and therefore right that it be so. There are currently, also, those who seem to see themselves at a point on a spectrum between the two genders. There may indeed be such a spectrum, a wavy sort of line from one to the other, but it is not by design. Because of this, among thoroughgoing Outworlders (and to the extent that they have any awareness) there is a reluctance to discuss THE PRESENCE in personal terms, if at all. It remains an it.
There are also Outworlders who, in an effort to avoid assigning gender to it, flit about between the various pronouns. It is silliness in its end. There is a relatively recent book in wide circulation in Outworld that many use as a guide for living and so forth that refers in myriad ways—some of them confusing, and some of them clear—to THE PRESENCE, and it tells marvelous stories of people who have lived before us. When referring to THE PRESENCE the male pronoun is used exclusively in this book, and that has become the more common practice. I will adopt that practice here, henceforth, not at all because we can actually ascribe gender to a presence that is beyond all such ideas, but because it is easier to write! Much more importantly, it is because of this: THE PRESENCE is deeply personal and intimate. He wants a relationship with all other beings, and that relationship is true and timeless, and reaches into the depths of our inner being. It then flows outward to others, from us and back again. It is limited only by our willingness to have it, and it is without limits, otherwise. It is without limits. Furthermore, it is all from Him and it is stunning in its beauty, and is currently enshrouded in mysterium tremendum et fascinans. It is enshrouded in this mystery, before which we tremble in fascination, because He and His nature are beyond the scope of our vision and all other sensory capacity. And yet . . .
You know that such close encounters can leave you breathless. Physically altered. Mindfully confused and confirmed. Momentarily unaware of surroundings, but deeply aware of the truest realities. And its touch upon us (it is indeed a touch), is intimate in the purest sense. It is a knowing, and it is shameless in its sensuality and tenderness, but firm and strong and sure in its attempts to be fully with. And we long for it from our depths, and when willing and made pure to a certain degree, we can have that touch. There are a few ways to have it, but it is not for the faint of heart. Rather, it is for those who have given their hearts over completely, and then find those hearts returned to them more full than ever before imagined in relationship. Well, I could go on and on and on, but I shall not here.
[Here I had to step away, as the things written above actually began to happen. It is now three days later.]
Let us turn to lesser encounters, although still very meaningful ones, by approaching the idea of mystery. We begin by discussing wonder and will admit to the idea of mystery.
It was in Outworld years ago, in a classroom where part of my job was to teach history and to teach from the book, referred to above:
We were in a sultry room, decorated with dozens of posters on the walls, posters of wholesome but talented music groups, furnished also with items of intrigue and curiosity. One wall was windowed, and below the windows ran a continuous bookshelf filled to overflowing with hundreds of books, old and new. In one corner were multiple stacks of magazines which would later be used to illustrate the ability of groups of people to accurately and quickly process information. Each student was asked to glance at the stacks, write a guess as to how many magazines there were in total. Although no single student guessed accurately, when all guesses were averaged, each class of 25 was accurate within .5 %, and one class guessed precisely.
On this day, there were only boys in the room, 8th graders discussing the book that can change lives. The boys and girls were segregated so that we could also discuss those others: girls. And we did. “Mr. Waugh, what do you say if a girl asks you if their clothes make them look fat or ugly, and you sorta think they do but you still like the girl, if she likes you back, and you don’t want to tell the truth in case she might run away?”
You tell the truth, I said. Say, “Nothing at all could make you look more lovely.” If she likes you, she will choose one meaning, and if she doesn’t, she will choose another meaning. They were days of glory and wonder, those guys and I in a sultry room.
We were in the book, and the name Beelzebub came up. We began talking about the word and how it is used to mean a force for evil and that evil has no power over us because we have access to Him (THE PRESENCE), and He can bind evil. And the name Beelzebub also refers to The Lord of the Flies.
Just then, in the center of the room, we noticed a large fly buzzing around. It was a blow fly, much larger than a typical house fly. Blow flies are attracted to decaying meat, usually a decomposing corpse, and there was no apparent reason for it to be in our sultry room. Yet, there it was. I smiled, and the room grew silent. except for the buzzing of evil. I went to the white board in the room and picked up a spray bottle that I used to clean stubborn stains left from the markers; I had replaced the contents with water when the toxic cleaner had run out. I tracked the fly and sprayed it gently; its wings were dampened and it grew tired and landed on my desk. I sprayed it once more and remembered that I had something else on my desk from a sewing repair I had been working on that morning. I turned the fly over, and made a loop of thread, pulling it tight on one of the fly’s legs. I tied the other end of the 1-meter length of thread to a marker, and carried the marker to a stool at the front of the room. It was completely silent in the sultry room, and we waited.
Soon, the fly began to move, testing its wings as they dried. And then it flew one meter into the air, tethered by the thread. It was flying around in circles like a magic kite before a class of boys who thought mostly of girls, and occasionally of evil. They were now experiencing the wonder of the moment when a messenger of Beelzebub had been bound before their eyes, held captive by a single thread.
Of such is any encounter with Him. And it is His benevolent will to give wonder to every moment, when our hearts are attuned first to Him, then to all else.
We have touched, barely, upon mystery here. Whence the fly? Why there and then, at that very intersection of space and time? It was the one point when those boys needed to see Truth beyond their minds and their bodies, and it revealed wonder at the edge of mystery.
Please return for Part VII in which we discuss enjoyment versus pursuit, and we think together about the highest order of realities.
Photograph © 2018, Timothy Waugh