Thursday, May 22, 2014

Flowers Drifting in a Riverine Field

Spring Flowers in Edgewood Park

"Wisdom is the oneness of mind that guides and permeated all things."
Heraclitus fragment 41 (translated by Brooks Haxton) 
The ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, grew up in the city of Ephesus, near the coast of present-day western Turkey. He is famously remembered for the quotable, "All things flow and nothing remains the same"--a different model of the universe from the more standard Platonic vision of reality of stable ideas behind appearances. Well, spring in Northern California, (probably quite like spring in Ephesus), shouts out Heraclitean. Spring is a process here; a rapid shift in blooming verdant grasses, embedded poppies and yellow florets of rock parsnip. If we liken ourselves to spring wildflowers, momentarily floating in grassy field, then the oneness of mind ferries us across the season. 
The Ohlone people lived near Edgewood Park and must have witnessed the many colored wisps of spring. An archaeological site at the nearby garish Filoli Mansion was home to an Ohlone group; did local and permanent opulence of Filoli supplant the seasonal and processual life of the Ohlone? Did we try to substitute Being for Becoming in California?
But our parks remain an ironic and enduring witness to natural process. Let us live in awareness of unifying wisdom, a wisdom through which we drift and are sustained and guided. An every changing field.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Love and Wisdom: A Unitarian Universalist Tagline

An Early Christian Sarcophagus from the Arles Archaeological Museum

Love and Wisdom, or the searching for Love and the cultivating of Wisdom, intertwine so finely that they appear as one thread in our lived spiritual experience. In the image above, Christ as the good shepherd and a devotee with her arms upraised in the orans prayer posture, together visually condense the best of loving devotion and wise guidance. But Love and Wisdom as aspirations and activities extend far before Christianity in the Mediterranean and Ancient Near East. Sumerian and Egyptian religious literature are chock full of scribal advice on how to swim through the uncertainties of life, including being slow to anger and peacefulness. Love and devotion to goddesses, such as Inanna, Cybele and Isis formed the cornerstone of religious practice in Sumeria, Anatolia, and Egypt.

While Unitarian Universalism often seems to lack a spiritual grounding, turning its attention to the profound need for social justice and activism, our history, arguably, could reclaim Love and Wisdom as rightful heirs to the Universalism and Unitarianism of the 19th century. The Universalism whose basic tenet identifies God as loving creation so much that no one would be sent to Hell and Unitarianism which sought to strip Christianity of multiplicity in the aim of a logical unity of the Divine, in tandem express a Love and Wisdom theology. 

Let us love, wisely and never forget our hearts in wisdom.