Saturday, November 27, 2010

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I have been all around the world with religion. I consider myself a student of all religions but a member of none. I believe the "prophecies they will fall away" and we will live soon in a post-religion world, but a world that ironically draws powerful truths from many mainline religions.

I went to church maybe once a year in college. The best religion I got was Religion 101 with Professor Marks at Washington and Lee. We studied the major world religions, but neglected the other belief systems, like Mayanism, Gnosticism, Taoism, Confucianism, Transcendentalism, Rastafarianism. Atheism. Communism.

Buddhism was one of my favorites.

In Buddhism, we are all leaves on the water, the current takes us where it will. The current buoys us, leads us, sustains us, and at times challenges and drowns us. In my faith, the Current = Love = God = Us. I tailor Buddishm a bit to suit me. I am not just a leaf in the water. I see it this way: I am sitting on the leaf, with a paddle in hand, in equal measure steering and floating. Master of my fate and disciple of fate at the same time. This view is incredibly empowering for me.

Another favorite of mine is Transcendentalism. It’s finding God in Nature. Nature calls out its Love song to us. It’s about breaking through the veil into the peace and fearlessness and familiarity of Nature. In Nature, we breathe in the sweet spirit of unity, of creation, of humanity, of design and destiny, all bound by love. Avatar evoked this spirituality. The Living spirit of Nature God, connecting all of us with a current, a network as complex and interconnected as the human brain. The epitome of science and spirit, working together. That’s God-love. That’s what’s coming for us all.

I love this quote by Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Live on, c’mon!

Transcendentalism is finding Love, finding your God in Nature. Nature as your sanctuary. Our heart’s home.

An embodiment of Nature’s love song for me is Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha, which was read by my brother Jeff at my wedding.

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Come join us in celebration, those who love sunshine on meadow
Who love shadow of the forest,
love the wind among the branches and the palacades of pine trees,
and the thunder in the mountains whose innumerable echoes flap like eagles in their eries.

Listen to this song of marriage. How, from another tribe and country came a young man, “give me as my wife this maiden, and our hands be clasped more closely, and our hearts be more united.”

Thus it is, our daughters leave us, those we love and those who love us. When a youth with flaunting feathers beckons to the fairest maiden.

From the sky the sun benignant looked upon them through the branches, Saying to them, “Oh, my children life is checkered shade and sunshine.”

The two figures man and woman Standing hand in hand together, with their hands so clasped together that they seem in one united. And the words thus represented are, “I see your heart within you.”

Sing them songs of love and longing
Now, let's feast and be more joyous.

This passage portrays the most sacred of spiritual ceremonies, a wedding, in the knaves and eaves and chapels of the pine trees. I find my heart, my husband, my love, when I experience God’s natural world.

Where do you find your heart? Yourself? Your best love? What glorifies you?

Transcendentalism as I experience it shows me that we need no Roman basilicas or St. Paul’s Cathedrals. Building your heart’s sanctuary requires no construction fund, no labor, no offerings, no tithing. Do other religions have tithing? I see now that tithing is a part of a business model manufactured by the Church to keep solvent that which could not survive economically on its own. To engage and ensure never ending profits by appealing to the abiding hope of its chief investors, the congregations, the elect. It’s the ultimate pyramid scheme.

An audience with God requires no admission fee. He’s right out your front door. He’s in the river and on the beach and over the mountains. He’s in your mirror. He’s you and me.

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God, to have these guys in a room together again....