Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Post Of Christmas Past: On Hearing the Light

From last year, the post of Christmas Past for our Christmas present, updeitied with various quotes to meditate upon...

Religious ideas have the fate of melodies, which, once set afloat in the world, are taken up by all sorts of instruments, some woefully coarse, feeble or out of tune, until people are in danger of crying out that the melody itself is detestable. --George Eliot

Hearing is the central theological act of perception..., certainly here on earth [where] we must strive above all not so much to see (which is too akin to taking possession of what is seen) as to hear (which is to submit to what has been heard).... The beauty of hearing sounds is that sounds always remain ever evanescent and therefore ungraspable, even as they communicate. --Edward Oakes

The central question of so-called "apologetics" or "fundamental theology" is the question of perceiving form -- an aesthetic problem.... Whoever is is not capable of seeing and "reading" the form will, by the same token, fail to perceive the content. Whoever is not illumined by the form will see no light in the content either. --Hans Urs von Balthasar

Science takes us from the unknown to the known. Religion, properly understood, takes us from the darkness of the known to the light of the greater unknown. Not just any unknown, but into the mysterious heart of unknowable being. Here, life is not a riddle to be solved, but a mystery to be savored and enjoyed. Nothing can actually eliminate this living mystery, but it is possible to pass one's days in the bright light of the merely known, and thereby forego a life of deeper unKnowing.

Some 1500 years ago, the revealed religion of Christianity reached western China and met up with what might be the greatest natural religion, Taoism. The following is adapted from a wonderful ode to the mystery of the universal light and logos, written by someone named Jingjing in 8th century China, who spontaneously merged Taoism and Christianity, undoubtedly because, like me, he was a multi-undisciplinarian who didn't know any better:

"In the beginning was the natural constant, the true stillness of the Origin, and the primordial void of the Most High. The Spirit of the void emerged as the Most High Lord, moving in mysterious ways to enlighten the holy ones. He is Ye Su, my True Lord of the Void, who embodies the three subtle and wondrous bodies, and who was condemned to the cross so that the people of the four directions might be saved....

"My Lord Ye Su, the one emanating in three subtle bodies, hid His true power, became a human, and came on behalf of the Lord of Heaven to preach the good teachings. A Virgin gave birth to the Sacred in a dwelling in the Western Empire. The message was given to the Persians, who saw and followed the bright light to offer Him gifts....

"These teachings can restore goodness to sincere believers, deliver those living within the boundaries of the eight territories, refine the dust and transform it into truth, reveal the gate of the three constants, lead us to life, and destroy death. The teachings of the Religion of Light are like the resplendent sun: they have the power to dissolve the dark realm and destroy evil forever.

"The Lord set afloat the raft of salvation and compassion so that we might use it to ascend to the palace of light and be united with Spirit.... He left twenty-seven books of scriptures to inspire our spirit, He revealed the workings of the Origin, and he gave us the method of purification by water. Thus we purify our hearts and return to the simple and natural Way of the truth. This truth cannot be named, but its power surpasses all expectations. When forced to give it a name, we call it the Religion of Light."

So even if you do it just once a year, take this day to be like Jingjing, do your verticalisthenics, and open your heart, your mind, and your life, to the Light, Love and Mystery of existence. You'd be surprised what you can learn by unKnowing.

If you can for awhile but cease from all your own thinking and willing, you shall hear the unspeakable words of God. -- Jakob Behme

The birth of the Word is death for the ego.... From the viewpoint of temporal flow, the end of our spiritual destiny is really an origin and spirituality is therefore a return to the beginning, a veritable re-ascent of time back to its non-temporal source. -- Jean Borella

Then came, at a predetermined moment, a moment in time
and of time,
A moment not out of time, but in time, in what we call history:
transecting, bisecting the world of time, a moment in time
but not like a moment of time,
A moment in time but time was made through that moment:
for without the meaning there is no time, and that moment
of time gave the meaning...

And when we have built an altar to the Invisible Light, we may
set thereon the little lights for which our bodily vision is made.
And we thank Thee that darkness reminds us of light.
O Light Invisible, we give Thee thanks for Thy great glory!
. --T.S. Eliot

Guide us to that topmost height of mystic lore which surpasses light and more than surpasses knowledge, where the simple, absolute, and unchangeable mysteries of heavenly Truth lie hidden in the dazzling obscurity of the secret Silence, outshining all brilliance with the intensity of of their darkness, and surcharging our blinded intellects with the utterly impalpable and invisible fairness of glories which exceed all beauty. --Dionysios the Areopagite

Return you soul to its upright position and extinguish all (me)mories, we're in for a promised landing. Touching down in shantitown, reset your chronescapes and preprayer for arrisall! --Petey the Merciful, the Compassionate, the Evasive

In my mind, I'm sailing with Ben:

What's below deck, in Ben's kitchen?

Mmmmm, dog food.

Perfect. I can see Santa, but he can't see me:


Anonymous said...

Bob's post just made me think of Silent Night...

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth

To paraphrase Fr. Guido Sarducci - Peace on all of you (my brothers and sisters in Christ)!

Anonymous said...

Here's an additional memorable quote, from an anonymous churchgoer who wrote this in Old St. Paul's Churc in Baltimore in 1692--


GO PLACIDLY AMID THE NOISE & HASTE, & REMEMBER WHAT peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull & ignorant; they too have their story. *** Avoid loud & aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain & bitter; for always there will be greater & lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. (*) Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism...

Anonymous said...

Poems in the spirit of Christmas unKnowing -


he who grasps for the silence,

loses it;

silence cannot

find him.

he who lets go,


silence catches him

in the air.

only he who is silent

knows silence;

only silence knows


and the angel said:

creation did not

thunder forth;

It was whispered

out of the Silence.

the fingers that spun

the Word’s infinity

drew ink from

the well of Silence.

silence rests in the

urn of the heart;

do not seek its center

for its center is everywhere.

and the angel said:

within the starry universe

of the manger:

the Silence of

ten billion suns -


I celebrate

The me that is outside myself,

Effortless, swift

In the horn of night,

Conjuring angels from the lamp light -

I celebrate

The me that wakes in the dream

Like Jonah awakening

In the whale-womb,

Wise infant in a blue cocoon -

I celebrate

The silence that falls through me

Like a shout falling from the sky

Like the silence a moment before

Existence leapt from Nothing’s door –

c. wcm 12/06

ximeze said...

Holy words long preserved
for our walk in this world,
Oh let the ancient words impart
Courage, peace, a loving heart.

Words of Life, words of Hope
Give us strength, help us cope
In this world, where e'er we roam
Ancient words will guide us Home.

Ancient words ever true
Changing me, and changing you.
Oh let the ancient words impart
A moving, quick incisive dart.

Holy words of our Faith
Handed down to this age.
Came to us through sacrifice
Oh heed the faithful words of Christ.

Holy words long preserved
For our walk in this world.
Courage, peace, a loving heart
Oh let the ancient words impart.

A moving, quick incisive dart
Oh let the ancient words impart.

Ancient Words
(Michael W. Smith)

This one gets me everytime I hear it: a quick incisive dart.

Anonymous said...

You know the funny, ironic, and perhaps sad thing is that I am fully with you on this post, Bob. Beautifully said.

Anonymous said...



Christ's Birthday



Anonymous said...

On this, the last Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve, my favorite hymn of the season:

People, look east.
The time is near
Of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able,
Trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the Guest, is on the way.

Furrows, be glad.
Though earth is bare,
One more seed is planted there:
Give up your strength the seed to nourish,
That in course the flower may flourish.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the Rose, is on the way.

Birds, though you long have ceased to build,
Guard the nest that must be filled.
Even the hour when wings are frozen
God for fledging time has chosen.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the Bird, is on the way.

Stars, keep the watch.
When night is dim
One more light the bowl shall brim,
Shining beyond the frosty weather,
Bright as sun and moon together.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the Star, is on the way.

Angels, announce with shouts of mirth
Christ who brings new life to earth.
Set every peak and valley humming
With the word, the Lord is coming.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the Lord, is on the way.

-Eleanor Farjeon

A blessed Christmas to you all.

ximeze said...


You know the not funny, not ironic, and certainly not sad thing is that those of us who believe in Prayer, are doing just so for you. Never forget that.

Merry Christmas

Anonymous said...

Ximeze, are you going to pray for my sins?

How sweet.

ximeze said...



Your sins are between you & God, nothing to do with me.

I pray that you get touched by that "quick incisive dart".

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas, all -

from me and fergus the cat

Anonymous said...

Here's to everyone at OC.
May your Christmas be joy and magic.


(poking cat in the ribs) Oh, yeah. Booger says(yawn- whatever) from me too.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thanks for the post, and humorous pics!

I celebrate your most excellent poetry!

Merry Christmas to you all!!!

Oscar is busy begging for his gift, before it spoils, or he would be howling a Merry Christmas as well.

Anonymous said...

thanks, Ben, and may the Light in the night be with you always.

Anonymous said...

Bob, and Crew,
Y'all have had quite an impact in my house over the past few months. Lot's of liveliness, and loveliness. It's really been a pleasure!

Merry Christmas !

Anonymous said...

snowy christmas eve
candles light the chapel steps
let me take your coat

Anonymous said...

God bless you and your's,

and thank you for you blog. i have much to learn. and enjoy doing so, my friend.

Anonymous said...


A superb Haiku.
You favor us too seldom.
Please write a few more.


Anonymous said...

Peace on Earth,
Goodwill toward men.


I'd like to share my favorite Santa song, and you'd have to know me to know how much a Michael W Smith song would suit me. But this one just speaks to the mom and wife in me, knowing well the men in my life have this "perfect little boy" inside them:

Last night I dreamed I was kid again
All the things I used to do I went and did again
Spent the afternoon with my best and closest friend
Wanderin' through the days we thought would never end
It was back when I'd still get things from Santa Claus
Back when he believed in me and overlooked the flaws
That can grow inside until it hides the perfect little boy inside the man

I'm not a kid anymore, but I still believe that those miracles occur
That's not something up his sleeve
And that the reindeer pull the sleigh and the elves still make the toys
Santa gives away to all the girls and boys

Tonight I'll climb back in that bed again
Try to live out all my dreams inside my head again
After Christmas Eve with my best and closest friend
Who still believes the world's greatest dad just tucked him in
And I know that he'll be looking out for Santa Claus
And I'm sure beyond a doubt he'll overlook the flaws
That will grow inside until it hides this perfect little boy inside a man

I'm not a kid anymore and I still believe that miracles occur
That's not something up his sleeve
And that the reindeer pull the sleigh and the elves do make the toys
Santa gives away to all the girls and boys.

_Clint Black

CGHill said...

Not to whiz on anyone's parade or anything, but "Desiderata," the poem, was written by Max Ehrmann in 1927; the rector of St. Paul's Church included it in a handout to his congregation in the 1960s, and eventually the credits became obscured.

Les Crane's 1971 audio recording (Warner Bros. 7520) is credited correctly.

ximeze said...

garden gnome


You may think yourself well placed, out there all alone in your dark tangle of leaves.
Being made of stone has made you very, yery cold.

Our lovely robinstarfish had you in mind when this was penned:

snowy christmas eve
candles light the chapel steps
let me take your coat

NoMo said...

My offering, if you please:

That glorious form, that light insufferable,
And that far-beaming blaze of majesty,
Wherewith He wont at heaven's high council table,
To sit the midst of Trinal Unity,
He laid aside; and here with us to be,
Forsook the courts of everlasting day, and chose with us a darksome house of clay. (John Milton)

"On hearing the light..."

Thanks all for all.

Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...


Our Fearless Vice-Overlord: MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU and YOUR FAMILY and ESPECIALLY LITTLE GAG-BOY!! My soul Thanks You, for the unique person you are, for your faithfulness, for all you share with us here. You have The Gift that keeps on giving, and keeps us "going" forward! Thank you for reminding us of exquisite Balance, Sanity, Spirituality and Center, that we may BE In and give from, to the World.

I have a Book of Hymns & Carols, that I traditionally read and sing from on Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning:

Here is one of my Favorites for Christmas Eve:

"What Star is This,
Which Burns so Bright?"

"What Star is this, which burns so bright,
More lovely than the noonday light?
'Tis sent to announce a newborn King,
Glad tidings of our God to bring."

"'Tis now fulfilled what God decreed,
'From Jacob shall a Star proceed';
And Lo! the Eastern sages stand
to read in Heaven, the Lord's command."

"While outward signs the Star displays
An inward Light the Lord conveys,
And urges them, with force benign,
To seek the Giver of the Sign."

"True love can brook no dull delay;
Nor toil, nor dangers stop their way
Home, kindred, fatherland and all
They leave at their Creator's call."

"O, while the Star of Heavenly grace
Invites us, Lord, to seek Thy face,
May we no more that Grace repel,
Or quench that Light which shines so well!"

"To God the Father, God the Son,
And Holy Spirit, Three in One,
May every tongue and nation raise
An endless song of thankful praise!"

And this is one of my Favorites on Christmas Morning:

"Christmas Morning Music"

"Music I love but ne'er a strain
Could kindle raptures so divine,
So grief assuage, so conquer pain,
And rouse this pensive heart of mine,
As that we hear on Christmas Morn,
Upon the wintry breezes borne."

"Though darkness still her empire keep,
And hours must pass, ere morning break;
From troubled dreams, or slumbers deep
That music kindly bids us wake:
It calls us, with an Angel's voice:
To Wake, to Worship and Rejoice!"

"To Greet with Joy the Glorious Morn,
Which Angels welcomed long ago,
When our Redeeming Lord was born
To bring the Light of Heaven below;
The powers of darkness to dispel
And rescue men from Death and Hell."

"While listening to that sacred strain
My raptured Spirit soars so high;
I seem to hear those songs again
Resounding through the open sky,
That kindled such divine delight,
In those who watched their flocks by night."

"With them, I celebrate His birth;
Glory to God, in highest Heaven,
Goodwill to men, and Peace on Earth,
To Us a Savior King is given;
Our God is come to claim His Own,
And satan's power is overthrown!"

"A sinless God, for sinful men
Descends to suffer and to bleed,
Hell must renounce its empire then;
The price is paid, the world is freed,
And satan's self must now confess,
That Christ has earned a right to bless."

"Now holy peace may smile from Heaven,
Heavenly Truth from Earth shall spring:
The captives chains and bonds are riven
For our Redeemer is Our King;
And He that gave His blood for men
Will lead us home to God again."

For All My New Friends and Bobbleheads Dear:

+ PsychoPrincess +

Gecko said...

Love's pure light shines here on One Cosmos for which my gratitude leaves me sans logos. Merry Christmas Bobbleheads all, you all make it easy to love.

Whaddaya think, did Santa make it to Gagboy? Did he see him? Did he hear the reindeer?

River Cocytus said...

When Adam spoke
He named the created
When God spoke
The created was--
But when Christ spoke
The named was created again.

My favorite Christmas hymn is this one:

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”