Friday, January 01, 2010

How am I not myself?


How am I not myself? Because I am you, and I am Jeff Bagwell, and I am the baker down the street, and I am the governor of the state, and they are not me, so thus in being them I am not myself. However, because I am them, than they are me, and by being them, I am myself. So being myself requires not being myself. Not being myself creates being myself. They are simultaneous states, they are different and they are the same and those two concepts cannot be separated from each other lest they be destroyed.

We are all connected. Everything is connected, and that creates harmony, unity, and oneness, all wonderful things - so if the path creates wonderful things, we can focus on the beauty of it and nothing more, right? Wrong. Because when we say EVERYTHING is connected, we do mean EVERYTHING – people, energy, books, museums, music, love, and laughter, yes, but also suffering, pain, grief, war, disease, heartbreak, and tears. That’s all part of the everything, too. But ultimately that connectedness, that blanket of everything, which includes the good and the bad, is good, because as I said it is harmony and it is unity. By starting and ending with oneness and sameness, we come full circle in goodness – but only if we acknowledge and confront the darker elements within.

This isn’t just some philosophical mind game. It is theological. The message of Christ starts and ends with a blissful personal relationship with the loving God, but that doesn’t mean we can focus on the beauty and ignore the pain. To connect our lives to God’s in that beautiful way, and to connect the earthly teachings of Christ with the other-worldly resurrection, we have to acknowledge and confront the crucifixion. I am reminded of a Good Friday sermon I heard last year from the Rev. Dr. J.D. “Guy” Collins in New Hampshire – the crucifixion is hard to understand; there are many theories of exegesis around it. And that’s okay, because Good Friday isn’t about us understanding the crucifixion. It is about Christ understanding us, about His feeling even deeper depths of pain and despair than we go through. That awful pain brings Him closer to us, using darkness to bring together two lights, using suffering to ling a beautiful life with many beautiful relationships.

And there's the heart of it. The beginning and the end, and thus the full circle, is beautiful, but only if we acknowledge and confront the darker elements and pain of existence that are indeed inside the circle. Infinity and eternity are beautiful things, but they are only themselves if nothing is left out, and that includes both the good and the bad, the light and the dark. You cannot leave anything out. You cannot have the beauty of joyous infinity without the un-beautiful things because at that point it is no longer infinity.

“There are no remainders in the mathematics of infinity.”

(So, guess what movie I just saw for the first time?)

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

You saw the Lion King when we were still in The Woodlands!

Nathan Empsall said...

The Lion King came out in 1994. We moved in 1992.