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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hell/Heaven -- Credo VIII

As many of you know I grew up in Europe, never more than three months in one place in hotels and boarding schools. By the time I was fifteen I had set foot in about thirty-five countries but never lived in my own home.

Needless to say, I visited a great number of zoos and museums. I saw a gazillion medieval masterpieces that depicted a three-tiered version of heaven, earth and hell beneath the earth!

When I was 12, we were in Belgium and I went to an exhibit of pictures of the horrors of WWI – I could not believe what I saw! In Boston in 1937/38, I saw newsreels depicting Japanese shooting and killing Chinese in Manchuria, and in a wretched boarding school in Rhode Island I learned of the early torturing of Jews in Germany. They were made to dance in their own feces on a table while Nazis laughed! I went out in the school courtyard and leaned against a favorite tree and wept and decided right then that hell was NOT underground but right here on earth!! And what an insult! to nature the concept was. Throughout my childhood, nature was the only constant in my life that I could trust, a few earthquakes excepted. And as for the stars, I decided that the one comfort that existed was that the universe continued to run on time.

It still does. Remember that.

So I moved hell up a storey and placed it on earth. Today, looking at the hellish black smoke, fire, rubble and ugliness in Baghdad, I’m sure many would agree with that assessment!

Ah, but there’s a BUT! Many decades later, the Gnostic Gospel according to Thomas was discovered and it were the wonderful words “Heaven is spread upon the earth, but men do not see it.” And then years later, I discovered in a footnote in Aurora Consurgens (possibly the work of Thomas Aquinas) a footnote, put there by M-L von Franz: Petrus Bonus, the alchemist, wrote, “The secret of the Philosopher’s Stone is to look with the eyes and see with the heart” (my paraphrasing). In other words, to look with a loving eye.

Then I remembered another alchemist writing that the Philosopher’s Stone is lying on the road and wagon wheels roll over it!

Then I had my most recent dream of Jung. He shouted at me: “Consider the obvious! I did!” When I looked up the derivation of obvious, it comes from ob via, on the road!

This sequence of fortuitous flukes clued me in to the fact that the truth is lying all around us – nothing is hidden, it is we who are blind!

So heaven on earth has come to me in utter conviction through the process of Hagia Sophia, who in the Old Testament as Holy Wisdom is co-creator with God (giving form to life) and is said to be full of delight (!) and wanting to be helpful to mankind. Jung tells us that she was part of the original Trinity and feminine but got translated into Latin as spiritus sanctus, which takes a masculine pronoun! Another Greek synonym is "paraclete," which means Comforter.

As you cannot kill an archetype, she hid in fairytales as the Fairy God-mother, whose process is to help bring forth the Divine Guest in each of us through the coniunctio of ego/Self.

The secret is simple and obvious – look at any object and ask it what it does. Turn nouns into verbs. Feminine wisdom considers the obvious. To live a sacramental life is to rethink the definition of a sacrament: “A sacrament is a visible sign of an invisible [grace] MEANING!”

To do this is to find glimpses of heaven on earth, to discover Spirit hidden in the obvious all around us on earth and above all in each other.

Find tongues in trees, books in running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.
Shakespeare, As You Like It”


Silly Old Woman
but lovingly,

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