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January 2003

Theme: Look here! What do you see?
                        (Jesus asking, paraphrase of Mt.16:15)

The sweet solemnity of Epiphany sees us through.
Is God what is looking through us?

Epi = on, at, besides, after. Phainein = to show. Epiphany is an appearance or manifestation of a divine being.

So many wise ones in our world, so few Magi. So many teachers, so few learners. If teachers are not learners, what then do they teach? If the wise do not embody their wisdom, why travel anywhere to point out the divine shining through another human being?

There is a place we must visit before hanging out a shingle with the word "teacher,” “coach,” “therapist,” or “ordained anything" affixed.

And the people on the street view me behind my own glass in much the same way, and it is the way that I have looked at others in their "foreign licence" cars, and it is the kind of judgement that I myself have made. And yet it seems that neither these people nor this man are in any way unkind and not to understand does not necessarily mean that one is cruel. But one should at least be honest. And perhaps I have tried too hard to be someone else without realizing at first what I presently am, I do not know. I am not sure.
(sic) (Pp.56-57, in story The Vastness of the Dark, in Island, by Alistair MacLeod)

That visit is to the vastness of the dark. It is an inconvenient side trip. It is there, without deflective light from any external source, we begin to see signals and signs pointing to the place we would like to call home, ourselves.

Magi point and leave. Others set up tents, hang out shingles, and ply skills of directing traffic. Like colorful officers waving white-gloved hand signals, those who don't leave direct visitors toward, away from, around, and sometimes through their tents.

God is not in any tent. Magi know this. Magi arrive, leave presents, and leave themselves.

The divine, akin to what Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle points out, shows up and through in a glancing passing presence.
The more precisely the position is determined, the less precisely the momentum is known in this instant, and vice versa. (-- Werner Heisenberg, uncertainty paper, 1927)

No stake fastens the movement of God.

Magi return home. Having seen God, they move on in a delighted weariness continuing their watchful and curious lives.

They move on with what is seeing them on their way.
They see through what is there to be seen through.
They are themselves seen through

When the divine shines through life, death appears clear and present.

When you are born with a strong presentiment of death, life advances toward birth in reverse. It recovers all of the stages of life in a sort of upside-down evolution: you die, then you live, suffer, and finally are born. Or is it another life that is born on the ruins of death? One feels the need to love, suffer, and be born again only after having known death in oneself. The only life is the one after death. That’s why transfigurations are so rare. (p.14, in Tears and Saints, by E. M. Cioran)

Is life only seen through death?

Perhaps this is the danger of the Magi. They follow intuition to the divine showing through a child. They’ve brought presents. The present has brought them to their senses.

“Now,” they say, “Now we have seen what we have long traveled to see.”
The child is born, recognized, and everyone shivers. They shiver not from some atmospheric chilliness. Their shivering is rapt awareness that the gift of life is the gift of death, and that death must be opened first.

For the divine to shine through we must first reconcile humanity to transparency. See life, see death. See death though life; see life through death. Try to hold on to one of them and discard the other, and a contemporary murderous Herod will try to fool you into reporting back to him what you are willing to sell out for a fool’s errand of personal gain, favor, or praise.

Cioran tells Herod, The only life is the one after death.
Herod is tempted to kill. He is wrong. It is a koan, a deep riddle.

What does a lovely transfiguration ordinarily look like?
Do we dare respond with our own epiphany?

Here’s looking at you!
, Sando , Cesco , Mu-ge
   and all who grace Meetingbrook,

Email (mono@meetingbrook.org) or mail to
Meetingbrook, 50 Bayview St. Camden, Maine 04843.

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