Thursday, June 21, 2007

It isn't just what you see on the surface.



I awoke the other morning with this image on my mind. "The Three Worlds" by Dutch artist Mauritz Escher is a famous print that I show my students in school when we study his amazing work. In it we can see the reflection of the trees and light on the pond surface, the leaves floating on the surface and the fish swimming under the surface. The idea that I have been struggling with relates to the process of discernment of God's will. I have been black and white in my thinking about the leading of the holy Spirit. I was thinking that the answers I was seeking to life's complex issues always have a Yes or No, Right or Wrong component. I was not thinking in terms of choices, that there are many ways to view something, many lenses by which we can filter our gaze; the reflection of what shines from above, the stuff floating on the surface or what lies underneath. Looking at a still pond or this print, either way one must decide how it is that their gaze will be cast. If breezing through, passing by, I only get a quick glimpse of the surface, then I will make assumptions about ponds that will not necessarily be based in fact. There will be so many delightful pond "things" that will be unknown and unappreciated because they are under the surface of the water. When Peter got out of the boat to walk on the water with Jesus, it was a leap of faith but suddenly he turned his gaze on another part of the picture, the wind, and becoming afraid began to sink. Jesus saw the whole picture then, He sees the whole picture today, I only see the part I am gazing upon and then try to base a decision on that. The answer is No we can't walk on water, but the answer is also Yes we can walk on water, it depends on what we are looking at, where we are putting our faith.

The other part of this image is the fact that I can gaze at the reflection or look at what is on the surface or look into the depths below. Peter, after his water walking experience, it would seem, would have learned a few things about following Jesus, yet he continually misteps because of lack of understanding and perspective. Sometimes, he is reacting and acting rashly, like slicing off the ear of a slave, later he is is doubtful,fearful, denying; further on in his faith journey legalistic, wanting to enforce Judaic law in a surface superficial sense, until God gave him a revelation with a deeper understanding. I have a feeling that God was using the picture The Three Worlds to tell me to fasten my seat belt and get ready for a more thrilling part of the journey. My destination? To a place where easy glib answers and legalistic fomulas, programs and ideas of "the way it's supposed to be" and "that's the way we've always done it" are about to be challenged. Please Lord let me see the picture the way you see it, using the eyes of faith and not the eyes of fear. Your perfect love casts out fear. Let me remember that when I am unsure of the ground or the water I am walking on.

2 comments:

Grandmère Mimi said...

Pamela, I do love Peter. Peter is the male me.

In all my life, I have only written five poems - discounting haikus and limericks - but three of them came within the last three months, and all three were inspired by images and the words of others. One is about Peter and Thomas, the Doubter, two of my favorite saints, of my many favorites.

Peter just did not learn the lessons; he did not "get" it, and I'm like that.

God bless you as you round a turn in your life. Did you read the Thomas Merton's prayer on my blog?

Pamela said...

I found Thomas Merton's prayer on the Reverend Gal Pals Prayer site and used it as part of an entry on March 18 this year. It has been a meaningful prayer for me this year in particular. I really liked the thoughtful piece you wrote about it in your blog. So many layers of meaning, so many ways of looking at something like this prayer and extracting wisdom and insight. I tried to comment on your blog but your comments feature is not enabled. Enjoy your time at the beach, it looks like fun!