Thursday, July 16, 2009

Quite Certainly

I went on a gorgeous walk this evening in Seattle. It was a rather ordinary walk until this couple stopped me on the center of campus with a question. Before I could say Jack Robinson, they had pulled out a Bible and had started reading it to me.

We moved pretty fast - Genesis first, then Revelation, then Ephesians. The theme of the pieced verses seemed to be that "God the Mother" brings us salvation in the end times and now that the end times are here "God the Mother" has already reappeared on this earth to bring us salvation. (I later researched this a little bit and apparently "God the Mother" is a Korean woman named Zang Gil-Jah. Entwined in this belief system is the idea that the second return of Christ already happened and that Ahn Sahng-hong was the Christ, but apparently he died in 1985.)

I didn't talk too much this evening. I mostly listened. I was trying to listen to the idea and heart behind all of these words that seemed so utterly foreign to me. I asked a few questions. I wanted to know what made these folks so passionate about their ideas and how these ideas increased their sense of fulfillment in relation to the world and God.

I find that when I am quite certain that an idea is perfectly bizarre and absurd, it becomes too easy to write the owner of the idea off the radar screen of my reality. This was certainly tempting tonight, but as I eventually continued on my walk, I didn't think these thoughts would be productive.

So instead of devoting my mental energies to mentally erasing the ideas that this couple believed so fervently, I started to think about the things in life that I knew for certain.

As soon as you start to think about how you know what you know, you realize that epistemology is a long road to travel. It is a hard road to travel. I have walked that road before, and I have been left with the conclusion that I cannot understand life with my mind alone. The epistemological road always travels back to my heart and back to my soul and back to my senses.

Where do you start when you think about what you know certainly?

Oddly enough, for me tonight, the beginning of all of my certainty started with a cluster of purple flowers that greeted me on my walk.

The cluster of flowers was beautiful, my senses told me so. Somehow I knew that the beauty of the flowers meant that the universe had purpose, that the universe was going somewhere, that the universe was being called, by the Someone who designed it, to become something grand and wonderful and majestic. The simple reality that I was allowed to behold beauty meant that I must be a part of this purpose in the universe. And somehow my soul understood that the cluster of flowers meant that God was good and that the goodness of God was much, much better than I could ever understand goodness to be. I was certain of that.

I was also quite certain that if the goodness of God meant that the Someone who designed the universe could step outside of the greatness of such Being to create something as small and ornamental and beautiful and temporary as a cluster of purple flowers, then I wanted to be a part of God's goodness and learn to step outside myself more, to learn to show more unconditional love, to give more selflessly in order that more people could see God's goodness, not just in flowers and mountains and lakes, but in humanity.

To be honest, I know for certain a lot more than this. A lot more knowledge springs from believing that God is so much better than I can understand goodness to be. But, for tonight, this certainty felt like quite an abundant gift enough.