The oddity of time rivals only the oddity of reality lately; more words coming to me as if I am carrying a pennant, “SEARCHING, rah, rah, rah!” I will tell you the words, but the promise is, between you and me, never to be precious. Preciousness won’t do anyone any good. If I’m banging my drum, have shaved my head into the shape of starlight, and have had all of my teeth pulled because I thought they were cruel, then how can I reach you and get you out of your not-farm-just-loud pickup truck and delight that you decided on your own to leave the tree standing? Spit on your palm and let’s shake on it. “We will not be precious.” Good.
Now to the words…wait, I also want you to know that, in consideration of the spiritual gains I’ve been able to define, I have assumed a tentative, even somewhat skeptical attitude towards using any popular terms as part of my work here. This isn’t a game. I feel that it’s necessary for me to get the right word, as it is a key to the one following; I want the damn truth, and I don’t want to find myself down the wrong rabbit hole. Even in the middle of a Buddhism class a while back, I sensed the need to question, to do some digging. I still have “pinnacle” on my work table, well-lit, held steady so that I can see the grain, the construction, potential for resilience. So far, I am defining “pinnacle” as the feeling, or moment when I have felt fully present to the point where time seems to stop; I feel perfectly suited to the task, all past experiences/learning efforts contribute to the present, and a central part of me is connected to something bigger.
And oooooh... just now, just there after that period, the concept of “shade,” crawled in, maybe through my ear, and offered itself.
Shade. Okay, I’ve figured out the pinnacle–it’s the goal, right? My frustration has been figuring out how to exist when I’m not in pinnacle mode, when I’m in its shade. That’s pretty good, right? Because I tend to get batted around in this shade if I’m not careful; some shade is darker than others–shade so dark that all of the other shade is jealous. The win means more here. We’re in the ring, not out in the parking lot. Win! Win! Win! Wave the pennant! And there I am, checking Instagram and I see a screen shot of a page from American Jungian analyst, Robert A. Johnson's book, “Inner Work.” When I saw the underlined words, I ran to my own copy, opened to the page and found that I had the same words underlined:
“All my experience as a psychologist leads me to the conclusion that a sense of reverence is necessary for psychological health. If a person has no sense of reverence, no feeling that there is anyone or anything that inspires awe, it generally indicates an ego inflation that cuts the conscious personality off completely from the nourishing spring of the unconscious.”
Perfect. I gasped out loud, with a kind of “Ahaaagh,” that, if you were standing near, you might have flinched and dropped your phone. REVERENCE. I feel that this ability is the stuff of openness to attend to any tender relationship we have, and that includes our “being” on this planet. I don’t believe in a needy, Biblical man-God, but I do like the idea of God meaning the goodness in, on, and of the planet, so beauty, kindness, free parking… when I use the word “holy,” I mean sacred in this whole Sunday-morning-palette-locus moving from the pulpit, to our own hearts, and yes our spit-covered palms too! What is it that you have reverence for, you there with the excellent chest pumper, and the voice, and the senses; each a threshold between you and the universe? So, yes, once you’re brave enough to be vulnerable, what moves you to tears? Is it a painting? A sunset? Is there a passage in a neato book that you have, or is it simply the sound of your footfalls on the earth? You have a relationship with everything; the things you have reverence for are throwing the frisbee-of-feeling back to you. So, here in the shade, I have deep reverence for the pinnacle, and the gift of the experience. I also have reverence for the unexplainable drive to continue to search for ways to exist in this shade, when to not, would be hella easier (The calories I expend just staying!).
The second word this morning, found on Padraig Ó Tuama’s Instagram, had a page from poet, Andreas Fleps' book, “Well Into the Night.” The title of the poem, “Transcendence.” There it was, TRANSCENDENCE! Of course! A definition, “existence or experience beyond the normal physical level.” You can go take your thumbs and look up more definitions, but I like this one, and also, I like Jung’s “transcendant function,” which refers to the working together of the psyche’s conscious and the unconscious–I’m a big fan of that. To know a thing creates potential, and I think grokking transcendence makes possible your travel through it, from the not-transcendence to the other end where it’s transcendence 12.O: dreams, knowings. Coming up with the right phrase that you weren’t previously aware of, or those conversations where you feel you’re a conduit, the messenger–yeahbabeeee! Yes transcendence is here in the slight shade of the pinnacle. I think it’s part of the root, the bedrock. Perhaps reverence works from a distance–not too far from the pinnacle, but transcendence is close in, enough to catch pinnacle drips, so stick your tongue out kid!
I like these words. All of them help me get closer to understanding my pinnacle experiences and the living around them. Reverence helps me further define my love for the process and how grateful I am to be aware of the subtleties. Transcendence keeps me up out of the doom scrolling with strong nudges toward mindfulness and meditation as not only balm, but fuel. The predecessors in those arenas weren’t joking, so high-fives to them, spit or no spit! I think transcendence reminds me to stop feeling the need to justify, but instead, to explain as wisdom, as seeds. This is verging on, close to... tremendous relief.
This not an easy paradigm, but I feel useful, hopeful that, despite the challenge that is my mother, despite the crummy historical bits, and despite the future of floods and fire, this foundation is more solid than any other I could have laid; still wet and curing, the pinnacle rising in the centre. Good grief it’s difficult, but if you’re paying attention, it’s dynamic. There is always learning.
From my favourite book, Salinger’s “Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour an Introduction,”
“Seymour once said that all we do our whole lives is go from one little piece of Holy Ground to the next. Is he never wrong?"
I will continue to wave my pennant.