leave room for ambiguity

Mary Catherine Bateson quotes a Catholic saying: “a sacrament effects what it signifies.” We can make something holy by saying it represents the holy. This is like the ancients blessing having power in and of itself to cause what it says.

This is something that Quakers do not seem to have. Except by going into a common everyday silence, they notice the holy and make the everyday holy. So I suspect it is there. And so it is in circles: we can make sacred by pointing to the sacred. This was my experience in the first circle I attended, with the Eagle feather. Saying so makes it so, if we leave something open.

So holiness is found in the noticing, in the finding, in the openness to finding, and in the looking to find. It is not inherent in the particular items: water, bitter herbs, candles, wine.

The question of course is how to bring our awareness to holy. I suspect it is a matter of a pausing to reflect, of someone pointing out what is in front of us. We may not all or even a few of us catch it, fleeting and ephemeral as it is. The door is opened, both ways.

It seems necessary to leave room for ambiguity and evoking and mystery even in how we point it out.

:- Doug.

Published in: Conversations | on September 16th, 2010 | No Comments »

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