The Great Karoo
The Great Karoo
A little Church in the vast emptiness of a barren land, the Karoo. Living symbol in a desolate openness is both Symbolic and Imaginal. Just as our lives, inner reality is made Real in the world via consciousness.
Consciousness is the speaking-listening of the Universe itself: It is focal-contextual awareness. Focal awareness is Symbolic.
i am a little church (far from the frantic
world with its rapture and anguish) at peace with nature
—i do not worry if longer nights grow longest;
i am not sorry when silence becomes singing
winter by spring, i lift my diminutive spire to
merciful Him Whose only now is forever:
standing erect in the deathless truth of His presence
(welcoming humbly His light and proudly His darkness)” e.e.cummings
I wrote The Magdalene Testament as living symbol to the love that transcends death. To a love for the Beloved that is both very personal and particular and is the nature of Life itself. Quick now, here, now always – A condition of complete simplicity (costing not less than everything.)
I halted then, and walked back down the lane,
and saw – sailing through the morning mist
as if through time, your long-hulled ship of stone.
That’s when I knew my sturdiest gift for you
would be to raise, in phrase on measured phrase,
the small cathedral of a faith-built poem.
made in and out of words, and love and time.
(Chris Mann: A poem to Christ near Winchester)
I had recently been reading an extract on Presences in Hope Sings so Beautiful by Christopher Pramuk where Etty Hillesum speaks of the eclipse of God. Etty was a young Jewish woman who lived in Amsterdam and was exterminated in Auschwitz.
A few days later I was introduced to the painting above of Mary Magdalene which touches me so deeply that I gaze and gaze. I have no words. There is a Star of David – just visible in blue. Christ and Magdalene enChristing us with their love.
I share the Magdalene’s heartbreak. The grief tied up with Love: The beauty of the world, its desecration, children giggling over secret silly jokes, the rape of a six month old baby, looking into the kind eyes of a wrinkled old woman, seeing a crippled man help her over the street: Yet again war spreading over Europe and the Middle East, the reverse vengeance of a Palestinian in Israel, the attack on a Synagogue in France. This is the year 2014. The brutalization of women. The murder of refugees. The non-recognition of our own Divinity: Our own enChristing: The mutuality of Mary and Jesus.
The Hebrew Slaves Chorus says it beyond words:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2F4G5H_TTvU
And yet Etty could write this just before being sent to the transit camp of Westerbork:
Saturday morning, 7.30 The bare trunks that climb past my window now shelter under a cover of young green leaves. A springy fleece along their naked , tough, ascetic limbs.
I went to bed early last night, and from my bed I stared out through the large open window. And it was once more as if life with all its mysteries was close to me, as if I could touch it. I had the feeling that I was resting against the naked breast of life, and could feel her gentle and regular heartbeat. I felt safe and protected. And I thought, How strange. It is wartime. There are concentration camps ….I know how very nervous people are, I know about the mounting human suffering. I know the persecution and oppression and despotism and the impotent fury and the terrible sadism. I know it all.
And yet – at unguarded moments, when left to myself, I suddenly lie against the naked breast of life, and her arms round me are so gentle and so protective and my own heartbeat is difficult to describe: so slow and so regular and so soft, almost muffled, but so constant as if it would never stop.
That is also my attitude to life, and I believe that neither war nor any other senseless human atrocity will ever be able to change it.
It could be Mary Magdalene writing. Can we hear Her ?