He came into the cleft of a rock, knowing he could only catch a glimpse of who passed before him. The rock of ages let him hide himself. The mystery remained. Moses had the Ten Commandments and a glance to fill his days with wonder.
When I was in seminary the latest ideas of evangelism were about story. Everyone had a story and we should learn and share with each other our story and hear others’ stories. The hope was that by providing a place of self-revelation bonds could formed and the Gospel shared. There was nothing sinister or manipulative in it, though there was a danger of this. It was mainly about adding muscles to relationships. I also think there was something too cozy about it, and something that was missing in the process. Too much like a math problem that only has one answer, relationship forming becomes a plugin application process. Sit for coffee and hear another story and share your own. The technique is, indeed, powerful and has lead me to many great conversations. It also led to some dirty laundry conversations, filled with my or others narcissism.
Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, and Anne Sexton led a poetry movement in which self confessional poetry brought an intimacy that was absent from the poetry of previous generations. Their poems, beautiful and tragic, force the readers to confront their own humanity. Self-confessional poetry also led to numerous journals, after numerous books, after numerous magazines, and even more journals filled with bad poetry telling the most naked confessions. Do we really need to know about other’s habits with toilet paper?
I have been wondering about the differences between self-revealing, sharing and connection, when I stumble on a post in the New Yorker about Moyra Davey’s video Les Goddesses. The video (above) is evocative for both what it shares and what it does not. We are not really sure who Moyra Davey is and the video raises more questions than it answers. We are left with a mystery that pulls us in wonder. Great art pulls into wonder.
When I think of my relationship with God, the father, Jesus and Holy Spirit, I am closest to God when I am filled with wonder. I know enough to engage God, but not enough posses or take for granted. I think the reason the ancient Hebrews were forbidden to pronounce the name of God, was because to name God was somehow to posses God, or to know God fully. In all relationships, including those to ourselves, to think you know is to possess. We enslave another (or ourselves) into our assumptions. Love grows cold in the metal bars of knowing.
I remember seeing couples who had been together a long time when I waited tables at restaurants. Some stopped talking to each other. Since they knew the others' story, there was not much to do talk about. They were brittle with each other and the possessed each other. Love had disappeared. Others seem to still be surprised by each other. They talk and created within their relationships. The time together was not a factor, some of the couples that had stop talking were married only a few years, while some of the couples that were still surprised by the other were together for 50 years or longer. Wonder had left some. Wonder stayed with others.
What is the connection between wonder and love? I wonder how relationships stay alive by engaging in wonder. Could relationships be resurrected by wonder? I wonder. I wonder if you understand what I am saying?
Art, says Ernesto Tinajero, comes from the border of what has come before and what is coming next. Tinajero uses his experience studying poetry and theology to write about the intersecting borders of art, poetry and religion.