Thursday, June 07, 2007

The White Buffalo Articulation and the Interstices of Being

I'm going to bypass preamble and just launch into the heart of my essay. That way it will be a few moments before you actually register that it's me, Will, speaking to you, not Bob, and you won't immediately bolt for the exit. That wouldn't do you any good anyway as Bob took time to coat the doors with a liquid thermosetting seal.

*****

In the summer following my senior year in high school, I decided that I'd like a summer job in a location where I knew nobody, where I would have my first real experience living apart from my family. I wasn't quite ready for total independence, however, so I my father obligingly secured a job for me at a small airport in Janesville, Wisconsin. Janesville was about an hour and a half's interstate drive from my home in Chicago, which enabled me to spend weekends at home.

I haven't visited Janesville in decades, so it might have changed since I spent the summer of my eighteenth year there. I strongly doubt it, though. Janesville was, probably still is, an archetypal American small town, and archetypes steadfastly make a point of remaining themselves. A one-boulevard, three stoplight, one movie theater community, Janesville was nestled like a robin's egg in the surrounding miles of Wisconsin farmland. Friendly people, of course, almost disturbingly so, particularly for a kid like me who was accustomed to a certain measure of edgy guardedness in social relations.

Well, let's be honest, I found Janesville to be "sleepy," a characteristic that I first found charming, even exotic. After a few weeks, however, the rows of growing corn at the edge of the airport's runways didn't quite give me the same *frisson*.

My job at the airport was "lineboy," the guy who refuels aircraft. Since this was a small-town airport, an informality prevailed, which meant I also swept the hanger daily, cleaned the washrooms, and ran out to get everybody a candy bar when they wanted one.

Well, during my tenure as lineboy, I managed not to forget to screw the gas-tank caps back onto the Cessnas, nor did I crash the 6-gear, multi-ton gasoline truck I grimly steered around the airport. I made some friends, even had a minor romance with a -- you guessed it -- local waitress. By summer's end, however, I was more than ready to put Janesville behind me. Yes, on some level, I appreciated the salt-of-the-earth virtues of small towns, but I couldn't escape the impression that burdens callow kids the world over: nothing ever happens here.

To my shame, I recall that this impression I had of bland landscape also extended to the people of Janesville. In my own callow eyes, they lacked the brio, the go-get-'em rhythm of my city and suburban friends. They seemed disturbingly *content* with their lot. Simple and uncomplicated, they were, with a touch of -- I couldn't help but draw the parallel, Wisconsin being the Land of Cows -- the bovine.

I once asked one of the local pilots if he ever drove into Chicago. His eyes popping open like a doll's, he exclaimed in horror, "Lord, no, that traffic terrifies me, I couldn't handle it, " -- and this from a guy who occasionally risked his life landing his Cessna at grand gala supermarket openings. Well, so be it, I thought. I couldn't account for what I regarded as their near-pathological avoidance of "where the action is," but I knew it wasn't for me. Watching the night lights of Janesville dwindling in my rear view mirror as I left the town for the last time, I thought, well, thank you, Janesville, for the sweet postcard memories, but I won't be returning because I've got a fast track to run, places to go, people to meet, excitement to be had, don't you know, and because nothing ever happens here.

Flash-forward several decades to a summer in 1994. To say that the arc of my life had by this time taken a series of unexpected turns would be very much the understatement, but that's a story for another time. I'm sitting at my kitchen table reading a newspaper when an item on page three immediately catches my eye. At this juncture in my life, it was the kind of story that fired up my imagination, caused my heart to beat a little faster: A white buffalo had been born.

As many of you no doubt know, the birth of the white buffalo is a signal event in American Indian prophecy and belief. I won't go into detail here, but the coming of the white buffalo is considered a sign that the birth of a new age is imminent. Now, I consider myself a Christian of the esoteric sort; I am open to prophecies from various spiritual traditions. If they issue from a source that I believe to be spiritually sound, I take them seriously. I took the birth of the white buffalo seriously. I felt a genuine sense of awe. My perception of what constituted a Big Deal had been considerably revised over the years, and now I understood this to be a spiritually historic Big Deal. So would thousands of others, including the Dalai Lama who sent a gift of a scarf to the buffalo.

Incidentally, the birthplace of the white buffalo was Janesville, Wisconsin. You know, nothing ever happens here.

One thing that I've observed about the nature of our spiritual progress is that we aren't always aware of what we know until we see it articulated in some manner. At that point, we experience the shock of recognition, and our self-awareness takes a quantum leap upward. It's like a graduation ceremony, the final integration of a particular lesson we have, in fact, already learned. (In this sense, we, as atoms in the Body of God, must already "know everything" -- however, we become aware of what we already know in stages, a slow progression.)

The white buffalo event was for me just such an articulation, a rather thundering one at that. Much of what I had learned through years of trial and trauma -- and yet until this moment had not been fully aware that I had learned -- came into focus. What better place than Janesville?

For it is the nature of the Spirit to hide in plain sight. That is, the Spirit avoids what men would find seductively intriguing. The Spirit avoids the "corridors of power." A man who would save the Republic -- perhaps save the very idea of Democracy itself -- emerging not from Massachusetts or New York State, but from the frontier wilds of Kentucky? Let's face it, the Spirit has a puckish sense of humor. If in 1960 someone had told you that a music was soon coming that would capture the world's imagination and even fundamentally change the world's culture, would you guess that music would be coming out of Liverpool, England?

Astronomers say that if you want to see a star clearly with the naked eye, it's best to look a little to the side of the star. Then the star comes into clear focus. I'm not sure if this applies here, but I do think it interesting.

Here's one of my own coinage: You're more likely to find a quarter on the sidewalk by *not* looking for it as you are by actually looking. I think this also probably applies to finding love. In either case, anxiety will be kept to a minimum.

There is a natural desire, of course, to go looking outside ourselves for the answers, for *ex*-citement. Ancient Rome with its bread and circuses must have been exciting. How were you going to keep them down on the farm in Gaul after they caught a glimpse of the coliseum torch light? Meanwhile, the Light of the World came gleaming out of the dust of Bethlehem, a flyblown one-donkey speck on the map -- and later rode into Jerusalem, not in steed-driven chariot, but on the back of a shaggy pack animal. That's what I call a good sense of humor.

Obviously, spiritual growth is marked by an adjustment to that which we register as being of transcedent importance. How is it, the secular Christian bashers like to ask, that the Roman and Jewish historians contemporary with Christ make no mention of him? Probably for the same reason William Manchester or Steven Ambrose didn't write about Padre Pio. These ragamuffins Christ and Pio just didn't ping the importance sonar. We might say they flew over the radar.

Bottom line: We tend to see is what is important to us. I'm not saying statecraft and politics isn't important. I'm saying that there's something far more important in this world of ours. It hides in plain sight, it manifests and expresses Itself through the medium of simplicity and humility. The natural eye is not drawn to it; the inner eye is. Without It's many willing hosts over the millennia, ie., the saints known and unknown, there would be no statecraft and politics on the earth, only a howling chaos.

I have these dreams where I'm borne back to Janesville on a whirlwind. I'm the age I am now, but everyone in Janesville is still the age they were when I was there long ago. They're all there in the hanger I used to sweep, everyone I knew or merely saw, the waitresses, the mechanics, the pilots, the farmers, the guys in the drug store, the clerks in the five and dime. I think I see the white buffalo behind them, moving in the shadows. I'm holding my head in my hands and asking for forgiveness. A voice -- maybe it's the waitress's -- says to me, "Aww honey, we always knew how scared and lonely you were, don't you worry about it."

I'm going to be relocating soon. I'm not going to tell you where, other than to say it's a known place, but *not that well known*. Why am I moving? Well, I lived in the city nearly all my life, and the truth is, *nothing ever happens here.*

65 Comments:

Blogger NoMo said...

Just beautiful, Will. For some reason it brought to mind (among other things), one of my favorites - "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it."
(Hebrews 13:2)

Or, white buffaloes.

6/07/2007 08:08:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Well done, Will. In my current reading, I came across an interesting concept. This concept applies to focused vision. When you intently focus on something visually, it tightens the fascia in your body. You can usually feel it in your mouth, jaw, eyes or shoulders if you are upper-quadrant oriented (sky-bound). You might feel it in your pelvis, hips or tush if you are lower-quadrant oriented (earth-bound). Either way, it's not the greatest thing for your body's alignment. They suggest softening your focus and using more of your peripheral vision when approaching the object. Notice how your body will feel more relaxed. Just goes to show you how important that middle of the road is! The intersection of horizontal and vertical is also a way to treat your body with care.

6/07/2007 08:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Sawdust said...

It was the opposite for me; raised on a farm with no sizable cities nearby. An uncle lived in St. Louis, about a hundred miles away, and we would visit him occasionally. A real treat was to be able to go to the zoo.

After returning from Vietnam, I decided to settle down in St. Louis, with all the action of the big city. Then later I lived in Denver, twice, before buying a small piece of country property in North Carolina, where I've been for the past 33 years.

I think that it might require a little more effort to find the true path in the city, so many distractions, at least for me. But maybe I just wasn't ready yet. When we moved here we joined, at the insistence of my wife, a nearby Methodist church. She attended regularly, I sporadically. My main memory of that particular church is that, when she passed away in '96, the preacher never stopped by to visit me and the children, kind of left a bad taste in my mouth. It has just been in the past year or so that I really started to get serious about spirituality. I have to say that this blog has been a very important part of that, not only Bob, but all of you who have so much to add.

I have to disagree slightly about finding a quarter, though. About 20
years ago, I had a young fellow working for me who found money all the time. We were coming home after work one day, and he spotted a $5 bill in the grass at the edge of the road. I was driving, going 55 or 60, and I asked him how he managed to find money all the time. He told me that money was everywhere, you just had to look for it. We began a contest to see who could find the most. He always won, but I did find considerably more than I ever had in the past. I think it might be the same with God, at least for me. Sure enough, just like the money, evidence of God is everywhere if you just get your mind right and look hard enough.

I think living where I do helps in living a spiritual life. My "action" is likely to be sitting on the front porch with a cold beer and a good cigar, watching deer and rabbits in the field out front, or the hummingbirds coming to feed. It is indeed a wonderful place we inhabit. Just as Bob is unable to offer proof of God to the atheist trolls, they could never explain to me how they can possibly be aware of our circumstance and be unaware of God.

Good post, Will. Thanks again to all of you who add to this quest for knowledge.

6/07/2007 08:29:00 AM  
Anonymous sybarite said...

What became of the white buffalo, I wonder. Does it yet live? Can it be visited by the public?

6/07/2007 08:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you fill in for Bob every day, please?

6/07/2007 08:40:00 AM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

It takes a little practice to live slowly enough to see what actually IS happening and what we really aren't missing.

6/07/2007 08:43:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

Thanks, Nomo, Lisa, Sawdust.

Sawdust, re the "looking", we surely do have to look, but I think it's like Lisa implies - , we have to find the right method of relaxed looking, or in Zen parlance, "not-looking".

Then we discover money - or God - to be everywhere.

6/07/2007 08:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you fill in for Bob every day, please?

My mommy makes me come here everyday and read this and I think Bob is such a meany but I'm not allowed to not read everyday. I can't wait to be all grown up so I don't have yo come here anymore and I can eat all the candy I want everyday.

6/07/2007 08:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about me? Aren't you going to thank me Will?

6/07/2007 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Another unexpected place for spirit to appear: the Church of Tom Jones. Then again, if Will is right, perhaps it's not unusual...

6/07/2007 08:54:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

The white buffalo's web site:

>>http://www.homestead.com/whitebuffalomiracle/

6/07/2007 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Will, a touch of Lileks there. I like it. I had heard of the White Buffalo before, and while I am completely contrary to superstition, it struck me as important (though I knew not why.) Well, there is a difference between a genuine sign and superstitions.

Having clarified that, awhile ago I kept getting depressed whenever I saw old, rustic places, like, "nothing happens here!" but there is something honest about these hand made places - they are not anti-progessive (not capital P) for when Sheetz, way out in WV has these crazy digital sandwich-assembler terminals, and satellite internet beams into these handmade homes? With solar panels? I had to reconsider my own opinions of them.

And, it seems like, these so-called nobodies are the real somebodies after all.

We just have to slow down a moment and take a closer look - but not right at it, nope - and we need to look for it, but without consuming ourselves with our search.

Jesus is a master of the knock-no-knock technique - the judge-no-judge, the seek-no-seek, the command-no-command, and so forth.

I guess it has something to do with...

ord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.


Amen.


You can't look right into the sun, right? But if you can polarize the light you can look right at it without doing so :)

6/07/2007 09:02:00 AM  
Anonymous cousin dupree said...

Hey, nothing ever happened in Treforest, Pontypridd, in South Wales either, until a certain white-tuxedoed a-TOM-ic bomb was dropped there from heaven!

6/07/2007 09:02:00 AM  
Blogger juliec said...

Will, thanks for the great post.
Re: not looking, it sounds to me like trying to find the image in a magic eye picture. I always found those easiest to see when I took off my glasses, which made it easier to unfocus my eyes and look past the flat page. The image was always hidden someplace behind the plane of the picture.

Which also reminds me, oddly enough, of karate. I once took a college phys. ed. class in karate, and during the last class we broke boards. The key to doing it properly (and not hurt your hand) was to focus your strike beyond the board, not at it; if you aim at the board you actually hit it when your strike is weakest. If you aim past it, you still have all the momentum to carry you through it.

6/07/2007 09:07:00 AM  
Anonymous geckofeeder said...

Hooked by the preamble and laughing. Nice work, Will, as always. White buffalos, white salamanders
mumble mumble . . .

6/07/2007 09:09:00 AM  
Anonymous cousin dupree said...

I understand that one of the Dalai Lama's prized possessions was a sweat-drenched hankie given him by Tom during a Vegas show. Yes, the same one now worn by the white buffalo.

And now you know the rest of the story.

6/07/2007 09:09:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Dupree, shut up. Enough about your Tom Jones fetish.

This post, like the subject it addresses, is full of spaces for reflection. In fact, only in such spaces can reflection occur at all. This goes for God as well. He first had to "withdraw" and create emptiness as a precondition for fullness.

I think the star analogy is very apt, which is just one more of the many things atheists don't understand about spirit. I would put it this way: O can only appear where humans haven't "flooded the zone" with their own (k). That's why it shows up in "empty" places where "nothing happens." Blessed are the poor in spirit....

6/07/2007 09:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finally we're getting on to some meaningful discussion here. Might we advance to a discussion of crystals tomorrow? I'm liking this.

6/07/2007 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Julie, I find it to be the same way with billiards. If I widen my gaze ahead of the ball on the pocket right before I shoot the ball it usually, well sometimes, goes in very smoothly! I can actually feel myself going into the "zone"! or maybe it's just my good friend don julio!! ;)

wv: tlwtf -is it allowed to curse like that?wtf?

6/07/2007 09:26:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

>>And now you know the rest of the story<<

Not totally. In 1998, a young girl decided to leave her home in NY City on a spiritual pilgrimage to see the white buffalo in Wisconsin. Lost, without self-esteem, the girl hoped that the buffalo would somehow help her find herself.

Arriving in Janesville, the girl found herself among hundreds crowding around the Sacred Beast. Woe is me, she thought, what chance have I got for a blessing or two? And yet! The buffalo spied her among the crowds, and was touched with compassion by the girl's countenance, which was drooping like a basset hound's, or perhaps more like sap oozing from a maple tree.

Here, said the buffalo, take my scarf and be restored. So the girl took the scarf, went back to NY, where her life was reborn from the ashes.

That girl's name? Paris Hilton.

Moral - anybody can get buffaloed, even the Elite.

Stay vigilant.

6/07/2007 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

Will,
chaos theory strongly implies that without your presence in Janesville, the white buffalo would not have been born there. Furthermore, that if you had been there but known at the time that it would happen, it would still not have happened. This is the tao of chaos: There are destinations that we cannot reach if we know where they are, because we will look for them at the wrong time and the wrong level.

6/07/2007 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

No, there's more!

One time Paris was sent to jail on some trumped up charge that her publicist forgot to tell her about more than half a dozen times. Facing the depressing prospect of two weeks with no photographs taken of her, she brought along just three items for spiritual sustenance: A copy of Deepak Chopra's new book "If There's No God, How Can I Make all This Dough Off Him?", Tony Robbins latest, "Awakening the Giant Sociopath Within," and the Tom Jones-Dalai Lama-White Buffalo hankie.

As it so happens, Tom was suffering from a viral infection on the day of his performance before the Dalai Lama -- which, by the way, included a rousing "message song" aimed at the communist Chinese, "Why, Why, Why, the Dalai?"

Anyway, Paris' copious tears somehow reactivated the old virus, causing her to become ill with the original Tom Jones infection, at which time she was released early from jail. Don't believe me? Check it out on Drudge, people.

6/07/2007 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Good stuff on the idiot compassion of foreign aid.

6/07/2007 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I think there must be an interesting relationship between the idiot compassion that causes so many problems in the third world, and the idiot lack-of-ruthlessness toward our enemies that masks as compassion. For example, here is the memo the Arabs desperately need. Just as with a two year old, providing them with no boundaries is not an act of compassion but a recipe for disaster.

6/07/2007 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

There are no yarns spun like those that the Tom Jones-Dalai Lama hankie were spun out of.

6/07/2007 10:50:00 AM  
Anonymous In other words.. said...

My eyes were mysteriously leaking while enjoying your post.Some serious thunder delivered with a velvet touch.
Thanks
sq

6/07/2007 10:50:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

And even more, thickening the mystery -

The scarf, now known as "the Scarf of Destiny" suddenly turned up missing. Sightings were reported around the world, Tokyo, Berlin, NY, and in one of those ironic twists that history loves to bring out of its trick bag on occasion, even in Paris.

Rumor had it that Mossad agents had gotten hold of the scarf, but no one really knew for sure.

Scarf scams begin to surface, hucksters selling what they claimed were pieces of the True Scarf.

Meanwhile, an obscure scholar by the name of Earl Tuttle noticed something unusual in the painting "White Buffalo At Sunrise" - in the background by a wooden fence, there appears to be a small bucket filled with white paint. What this simply a depiction of a bucket? Tuttle wondered. Or was it telling us something more.

Tuttle then begin writing his groundbreaking book, The Buffalo Code, in which he claimed that the white buffalo was, in fact, not a buffalo at all, but a guernsey cow that had been covered with shap carpeting and then painted white! Needless to say, this theory gave rise to heated controversy among the nine people who had bothered to scan Tuttle's book.
* * *
Somewhere in the desert of Afghanistan, a Delta Force team assembles. They are preparing for a mission that is utterly classified. Just below the military insignia on the upper sleeves of their uniforms, a small stitching of a white buffalo.

6/07/2007 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger Gandalin said...

Janesville is also the world capital of the fountain pen.

6/07/2007 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

By the way, if you must know, said yarns were spun from none other than the Shroud of Turin.

Or, rather, one of them. But its the symbolism, or something.

6/07/2007 10:53:00 AM  
Anonymous cousin dupree said...

LIttle known Tom Jones fact: in 1966 he was offered a contract by Motown, which would have made him their first white artist. He was all for it, but his manager ultimately advised against it since he could make much more money with a major label.

Mean time, Motown's legendary songwriting team, Holland-Dozier-Holland, had already begun crafting songs specifically for him. When the deal fell through, the songs ended up going to the Four Tops.

One can well imagine Tom tearing through the likes of "Bernadette," "Reach Out ("I'll Be There)," and "Standing In The Shadows Of Love."

6/07/2007 11:00:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

But Gandolin, were they white shaggy fountain pens, the coming of which was prophesized by Native American tribes for thousands of years?

I THINK NOT!

6/07/2007 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

RC--

Interesting point. Since the sacred hankie was given to the Dalai on closing night as the curtain fell on the Tom Jones world tour, his followers refer to it as "the shroud of tourin'."

6/07/2007 11:08:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

>>his manager ultimately advised against it<<

Evil, misguiding managers - they are actually one entity with many names, faces . . . Col. Tom Parker to some. Satan to others.

6/07/2007 11:14:00 AM  
Anonymous dilys said...

Provocative post, Will. There's an interesting "red heifer" meme in the Jewish tradition, too.

As to "where to live," it's kind of a neti-neti paradox. A temptation to Transcendentally romanticize small-town or rural life per se may be as misguided as Uptown: Whaas Happenin. There's a long history of wise men preferring city, then country, city, country. My own taste and sanity generally lies somewhere in between, the overlooked paradise of "suburbia" or the city garden. Mythically, life began in a garden and ends in the New Jerusalem, with a wistful&woeful tour through the campus of Babel.

It is surely the case that there are "calls" to be on one place or another around the earth at a particular time. And to leave others, when it's evident to the inner vision that nothing ever happens here. I knew without doubt I was not to stay in Washington or New York a minute longer than I must, beginning in the mid-80s. And that in Edinburgh of the 70s I was tethered to my geographic Heart. Something important and mysterious is no doubt calling you to make the change. Keep us up to date.

6/07/2007 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

And if you want to know what this all has to do with Tom Jones' friend, Charles Bronson, here is your answer.

6/07/2007 11:17:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

BTW., to all who complimented me re: the post, thank you.

Is appreciated.

6/07/2007 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Dilys:

Good point. I have always preferred to live at a boundary or edge in between wilderness and civilization -- like old Steppenwolf, I suppose.

6/07/2007 11:20:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

Dilys, right re: the over-romancing of the pastoral.

Augustine, after all, did write The City of God, not the Bucolic Pastoral Idyll of God.

The very idea of the city has always thrilled me, and I don't mean just because it was where the action was. Just the idea of the aggregate working in concert . . .

This is a radically transitional age, however. Implosions happen, the deck needs clearing.

I love the sun, too, but I have the sense that I should avoid exposure to it for a while.

6/07/2007 11:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Joseph said...

I actually saw that Tom Jones show. The encore song was the old Louis Armstrong hit, "Hello Dalai".

6/07/2007 11:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Bulletproof monk said...

NoMo said...
"Just beautiful, Just beautiful, Will. For some reason it brought to mind (among other things), one of my favorites - "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it."
(Hebrews 13:2)"

May I offer...
http://www.christendom-awake.org/pages/mshivana/marriage-icon.htm

May I also suggest that after reading Will's meditation, you go and watch Tarkovsky's film "Andrei Rublev". There is much synergy between the two. Please allow me to explain...

It is through the process of becoming icons (eikon) ourselves that we show true hospitality to God and become partakers of the Divine nature. The three are in fact synonymous. It is Will's observation that in "plain" Janesville lies our true peace and rest, and therefore our home and hearth (oikos), the place where "nothing much seems to happen" except of course the things that "need" to happen. These things constitute our essential and eternal nature or spirit, and that is why spirit usually manifests in "places" far from "the action", the timeless changeless places of the earth and the heart. In Janesville there is nothing extraneous to life, no "extra-nous" interfering, and therefore life itself is embodied there. How could that be boring?

In order to find that home, that life, that hearth, that spirit, we must learn to separate out and silence that voice within that shouts for and demands ex-citements and enter-tainments and act-ions. This persecutory voice constantly judges us by what we "have done" or "are doing" or "will do" rather than by simply allowing us to joyfully proclaim, "I AM". The cacophony may become so distracting that we, if we are sensitive to our plight, may even take a physical vow of silence so that we may better observe the coins tossed in our path as we journey home.

The home we journey to, however, is never the one we think we will find "over the river and through the woods". For over the river lies barbarian hordes, and in the woods dance pagan nymphs, the two seeking to turn us from our path, by turns with fear of death and sensual enticements. No, to escape such things we must actually walk in the currents of the river between the banks of barbarians and nymphs. The river is our path to salvation that takes us gradually towards a city where a pit is dug and filled and eventually opened again, revealing a hidden pearl of cast iron.

It is axiomatic that if we try to ride the balloon of our own creation, though the experience be initially intoxicating, we will eventually crash when the hot air cools. And cool it inevitably must, since the balloon is governed by thermodynamic laws that we can only temporarily bend to our will but never overcome. We cannot, therefore, take the short and scenic road "over" the obstacles, but must tread the paths of rolling horses and white buffalo. At least there is joy in the journey itself, or we might come to despair.

Eventually, however, the theophany will come, and God will appear to as the clear and joyous ringing of a bell new cast. Bells, when cast, often contain hidden flaws and may crack when rung. But this bell will always ring true if the makers are true, though they be inexperienced. Certainly there is significant fear involved in the process of the bell's creation. And at the moment of success, your response must be authentic surrender in tears of joy and relief. Relief not in your own successes, but rather in finding your home once again. But this home is not yours alone, for in it your master also resides, and he is hospitable indeed. In this home there is a mutual in-dwelling in perfect hospitality, a hospitality of a new creation of color and beauty and peace. A hospitality where all are clothed in raiments of blue and red against a golden dawn, sharing a cup of sweet light.

In the process of writing these thoughts, I discovered an amazing correspondence between Tarkovsky's vision and the classic children's expression of Thanks-giving...

Over the river and thru the wood,
To grandfather's house we go;
The horse knows the way
To carry the sleigh,
Thru the white and drifted snow, oh!
Over the river and thru the wood,
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes,
And bites the nose,
As over the ground we go.

Over the river and thru the wood,
To have a first-rate play;
Oh, hear the bell ring,
"Ting-a-ling-ling!"
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day-ay!
Over the river and thru the wood,
Trot fast my dapple gray!
Spring over the ground,
Like a hunting hound!
For this is Thanksgiving Day.

If anything I have said is cryptic, it is because you haven't seen the film.

With love and hospitality in Christ, I wish you all a blessed journey into the silent places where nothing much happens.

6/07/2007 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Nice post Will.
"Why am I moving? Well, I lived in the city nearly all my life, and the truth is, *nothing ever happens here.*"

Yep, gno the feeling.

Regarding the not-looking looking thing, I didn't finish reading this this morning, but looked interesting:
Wayne Gretzky-Style 'Field Sense' May Be Teachable about finding ways to develop that '6th' sense, which at least up to the point I got, had to do with paying attention, but not trying to figure out where the ball or player was going to be.

wv:avipgho - yes, but where does he go?

6/07/2007 11:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Bulletproof monk said...

Upon rereading what I have just printed, I realize that the "you" I am addressing in my first paragraph sounds like I am solely addressing Nomo. However, the "you" I intended is the generic "you" -- every reader.

Unfortunately I cannot edit that opening paragraph to correct it.

Also, in case it is not clear, let me thank Will for his significant insights, and Nomo for making the wonderful connection of Will's post and Abraham's hospitality. It is truly a profound insight. And I hope my thoughts contribute in some way to the understanding of that insight.

6/07/2007 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Joseph --

Yes, but do you remember how the words were altered slightly to commmorate the occasion?

Hello, Dalai, well, hello, Dalai,
It's so sad to see you where you don't belong.
You've looked unwell, Dalai, since you fell, Dalai,
You're still running, from those cunning, Reds a billion strong.

I feel this room swayin', with your monks prayin'
To get your old favorite country back again.
So, take this scarf, Dalai, hope it makes you feel a bit jolly,
And Dalai never go into exile again.

6/07/2007 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Oh yes Will, that old hack Earl Tuttle and 'The Buffalo Code'. Unbelievable. He spent all that time gazing at the picture and only saw the bucket hanging on the fence. Twit.

Had he been observant, he would looked past the fence, at night and seen not only the great pumpkin arising from out of the pumpkin patch, but the clue that ties it all together - Snoopy upon his trusty Sopworth Camel doghouse, out to fight the Red Baron (obviously symbolic of Dilys' "red heifer")... and what does the observant Racoon notice swathed about Snoopies neck?

Yes! the White Scarf! cue snoopies theme song (and which 6 degrees of separation does that theme song just 'happen' to tie in to).

Coincidence?

Puh-leeze!

wv:rssga - need I say more?

6/07/2007 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

The whole mystery to it, is that as it happens, the scarf, 'the Shroud of Tourin" was actually woven from the fibers of the previous white buffalo.

As to how Tom Jones came upon this unusual shroud, I would have to defer to expert opinion.

6/07/2007 12:13:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

To be honest, it reminds me a little of how Daniel came into possession of the Sacred Harp. Like Paris, he too ended up in jail.

6/07/2007 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger MizzE said...

BPMonk's link earlier to the Trinitarian Communion of marriage, prompts me to post this link to a real life story of what divorce does to an ontological relationship.

Some OC readers already know that I moved last week from a noisy suburbia environment where the sound of tires rolling down a nearby highway intruded 24/7.

I am now blessed to live in a very secluded place in the Texas Hill Country, where the stars at night are big, quiet and bright, and I'm only 20 minutes from downtown Austin.

Plus, if any of you ever need a layover sanctuary on your way to somewhere, I would be delighted to share it with you. (My email contact is in my profile.)

6/07/2007 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

What if a white buffalo was born on your ranch, and it grew up, and then died mysteriously?
Yikes!

6/07/2007 01:47:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

I noticed that today Lileks drew the color-blind vs color-enabled vision analogy re: a debate between an atheist and a believer.

An analogy first heard . . where was it? . . oh yeah . . . here.

O.C. - always out in front, streamers flying, leading the way to a glorious future . . .

6/07/2007 01:57:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

lisa,

Billiards, shooting free-throws, hitting a fastball...

All of these things are impossible to do right if you are trying to do them right.

6/07/2007 02:02:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

By the way, horticulturalists, I found a good seed store here...

They even sell Wasabi plants in April & May.

wv: emjoyep! I does!

6/07/2007 03:15:00 PM  
Blogger Voltron said...

"Boys......

I said, above the canyon wall...
strong eyes did glow.

It was the leader of the land,baby.

OH MY GOD,
The GREAT WHITE BUFFALO.....

LOOK OUT!!!! LOOK OUT!!!!!!!

Well,he got the battered herd.
He led em cross the land.

With the Great White Buffalo,
they gonna make a final stand."



Maybe Uncle Ted has the white scarf?

6/07/2007 03:41:00 PM  
Anonymous dougman said...

~ ~ ~ ~ slithering back in to the classroom ~ ~ ~ ~chair squeks slightly, scwk ,me with a blank look on my face [* _ *].

"What, I been here the whole time".
That's my story and i'm stickin' to it

That was really good Will, You Plucker you.

6/07/2007 04:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not that I trust Wikipedia, but...

"There has also been criticism that feudal Tibet was not as benevolent as the Dalai Lama had portrayed. Critics have suggested that in addition to serfdom there were conditions that effectively constituted slavery. Also, the penal code included forms of corporal punishment, in addition to capital punishment. In response, the Dalai Lama has since condemned some of ancient Tibet's feudal practices and has added that he was willing to institute reforms before the Chinese invaded. However, historian Michael Parenti believes there was a connection between Dalai Lama's 1959 fleeing Tibet and the then PRC Central Government's decision to gradually phase out serfdom in Tibet."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

Tenzin_Gyatso%2C_14th_Dalai_Lama#Criticism

6/07/2007 06:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Alan said...

Swtiching around with Will on the comfy couch and Bob in the odd-ience sure livens up this place!

Unfortunately, I have a complete mental block when it comes to White Buffalo having grown up across the border, my image is of Buffalo with 10 foot high snow drifts and houses on fire - hence I won't even attempt to compete post-humoruously.

6/07/2007 06:15:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Moving sounds exciting. Ex-ing the urb for greener environs. Damn that sounds good. There has been no rain here forever. Eh- but somewhere it's gotta' be flooding, in which case a dry year sounds OK. It's fascinating to see the way that events connect in the web of coincidence that brings us to where we are. And it's crazy making that you only see the significant junctures when they are behind you. Great post, Will. Best of luck with the move.

JWM

6/07/2007 07:24:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

I had to speed read to catch up.

We looked at properties outside of town today. Funny coincidence.

Will, when you mentioned Jesus' entry into Jerusalem on a donkey, it reminded me of a recent sermon I heard contrasting it with a Roman triumphal entry.

Will said: "For it is the nature of the Spirit to hide in plain sight. That is, the Spirit avoids what men would find seductively intriguing."

Isaiah said: "...he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him."

Great post, Will!

6/07/2007 08:19:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Bob! Love the new picture! :)

6/07/2007 08:20:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Thanks again, all, for the comments and interesting takes on the post.

6/07/2007 09:03:00 PM  
Anonymous joseph said...

Good Lord Bob,
How do you come up with that stuff?

6/07/2007 09:12:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Will,
This is a wonderful post. And just what I needed when I read it last night at 11pm.
I had just spent a very long day at a shipyard. Left the house at 4am with a 3hr drive to get to the shipyard. Got back at 11pm as I said. The most difficult part was being trapped in the car for 6hrs with the only other 2 people in the car who suffer from BDS. If you’ve noticed these people do suffer. They can’t control it. Thankfully this only reared about 8pm, I think, when I did not have the mental energy to deal with it. I didn’t deal with it well. I stopped talking when I asked one of the guys – really wasn’t a question -, “You don’t see any difference between say a country like communist Russia having missiles and a county like the US?!” He said flatly, “No.” End of conversation.

As Bob said the other day, I was thinking to myself, ‘I have literally forgotten how to think so stupid.’ If we can’t agree on something this basic, where do I go next? I wish at the time I’d have replaced in my question ‘Russia having missiles’ with ‘Iran having nukes’ but that would not have flowed in the conversation since it started with the issue of the missile shield. Of course these idiots don’t realize that shield protects THEM. But, even if I had used Iran instead of Russia in my question, I’m certain the answer would have been the same. “No.”

Similar to the meaning within your post, Will, the folks at the shipyard were the real deal. The nicest most helpful hardest working, working-hard-to-please-us-people there yesterday. One of them ran across the street to get US a pizza.

The 2 idiots (and I don’t mean that personally, they are nice guys otherwise) are both foreign nationals, fresh out of college and are convinced they know everything – like I thought once at their age. But they clearly have it much worse than I ever did. I did not go to the Institution of Michael Moore and DailyKoss.

6/08/2007 05:41:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Will,
I hope you are moving next door to me.

Great photo, Dr Bob.

6/08/2007 05:51:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Ricky, as hubby and I were discussing last night, some people are simply morally unfit to debate issues of right and wrong. I'm glad you recognized that.

6/08/2007 05:54:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Thanks, Susannah. It was nice to come home to some sense.
I should stress that these 2 guys, I can tell, are good guys. I thought so when I met tham, and after having cooled off, I still think so. They have good hearts underneath some really strong, thick parasite layers.

6/08/2007 06:02:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

I just had to say, I have a wonderful relative who believes every last thing her fave politicians say. So, I can relate about basic good-heartedness.

6/08/2007 07:31:00 PM  

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