Sunday, October 16, 2005

Metaphors

When I think my bed will comfort me and my couch will ease my complaint, even then you frighten me with dreams and terrify me with visions, so that I prefer strangling and death, rather than this body of mine. --Job 7:13-15


I had a dream last night. I was walking in Portland and as I passed a parking garage a bomb went off. The debris was flying all around me as I dropped to my knees and pulled my shirt up over my nose and mouth so I could breathe. When things stopped shaking I got off my knees and opened my eyes. Before I could move a car backed over me, pushing me down and bruising me, dragging me into the street. It sped away and I rolled onto my knees. Slowly I stood up. Another car was backing out of a parking space and it also hit me. I lay for a while, got up on all fours and caught my breath. Slowly I rose to my feet and decided that I would not go to work. I found myself walking in the cemetery and my son’s grave had been dug up. I opened his casket and looked long at him.

I awoke. The thing with dreams is that it isn’t just about the imagery. There are emotions that seem to run through the dreams and the images are almost secondary to the feelings. I felt awful.

But there is something about the imagery as well. For dreams such as this the events are clearly metaphorical. It is how we are made. Our minds naturally construct symbols for concepts, events, moods. One doesn’t need to be a literary scholar to know that when it rains in a Hemmingway novel something bad is going to happen. We sense the foreboding.

We construct metaphors for all sorts of things. We devised letters to stand for sounds, sounds to stand for things, things to stand for ideas and emotions. A rose offered to someone we love is a symbol. A great statue greets those entering New York as a symbol of freedom. Our world is filled with symbols that are important to us. The flag of our country brings tears to grizzled veterans. The cross was turned from a hideous symbol of tyranny and cruelty to a symbol of love and hope.

We are metaphorical creatures. He made us that way.

Could it be that all of this, our world, is a metaphor? When I see something beautiful, something that inspires me, could it be a metaphor of something more real? Not because I choose to turn it into a meaning of something else, but because it really is a metaphor, that it was designed that way.

Ah, I see I am starting to lose you. Hang in there.

Consider the things of Man. The greed, power, lust, hate, anger, selfishness, and self-centeredness. We can agree that these things are not of God. But consider the things that He gives us. Love. Beauty. Things that are good. Things that lift us and nurture us and heal us. Look hard at the “Pillars of Paradise” in the Eagle Nebula. Consider the gentle vibrancy of a rainbow that spans a majestic vista or the swaying blossoms of a field of wildflowers in spring. There is something about the way the moon swings through its phases and the sun announces its power with its heraldic rays that inspires. The joy of a child who is happy and loves because it seems natural to do so. I think they are metaphors.

What if they are hints, symbols of the power and beauty and grace and glory that are His? What if this life is a representation of the struggles of good and evil and that what we experience here is part of something larger than us: eternity.

What if this world is to Heaven what a projection is to the real thing? What if the added dimensions that physicists describe are a part of a reality that is more real than we are? That from the point of view of eternity we are mere projections of spirituality? That we are constrained by flesh and blood and three dimensions and that there is so much more for us to experience? That the beauty we see here is just a pale reflection of what real beauty, real joy, is.

Friday we went to learn things about our son. We spent two hours drinking in a flood of information and left with a report of fifteen single-spaced pages that tried to describe who our child is in terms of his physical brain, his mental abilities, his psychological propensities, and his probable behaviors. It is a lot to take in.

But who he is, who I am, is constrained by a “reality” that works in a single dimension of time that drags us along in the direction of entropy (whether we like it or not). A brain injury, or even the full use of all that a human brain can do, pales to the reality of the freedom that is promised in bodies that do not require the shackles that are part and parcel of this world.

When I see beauty, real beauty, something moves inside of me. It is not just an emotion. In fact I know it precedes the emotion. It takes a moment for an emotion to build. I can feel that coming. No, this is something else. I feel something twist inside me, like some living thing that has no physical organ, and I am moved. I feel this thing that tells me that what I see, what I am recognizing there, is something GOOD. I am catching a glimpse, a hint, of Him.

What if the beauty I see, the wonders that makes this thing in my chest move and twist in joy and awe is a metaphor for glory?

Then I shake. I tremble. I know that though I am wandering through a vale of suffering, where people are crushed by falling mountains, and waves sweep thousands into the sea, and evil men prowl with guns and bombs, where children starve, where children die, where parents lay tiny bodies in graves, is all a dream. It is an awful, terrifying, soul-shaking dream that prepares us for a relationship with the maker of stars and graceful molecules, and sharp jagged peaks which arrow into blue skies. The maker of galaxies that dance through space and time, the creator of whales, the artist that painted the grand canyon, the craftsman who fashioned the hummingbird, and pounded carbon atoms within the hearts of stars loves me. He who knitted my bones together and who inspires me with beauty, loves me! He loves me.

He is preparing me for real glory. He is preparing me for a time when I can be freed from the burden of a life which permits hate as readily as love. He fills my world with metaphors that remind me that there is something out there, something greater. And that no matter where I am today, He is there. He is waiting for me to come running home someday where I can share in His feast. Where I can join my son and friends and family. Where I can join Him. He gives me hope with such a simple thing as a resting butterfly and a cloud gliding undisturbed overhead.

For those of you visiting this site and are beginning to wonder what is the matter with this guy who gets all emotional about a God he cannot see, I want to share this one truth with you.

I can see Him. I know He is real. He leaves His fingerprints all over this world and all over my life. You can see it too. All you have to do is feel for that living thing that lives inside your chest, that thing that flips and moves in the presence of things small and mighty that are metaphors of a greater reality. Look into that spot, open it up, and ask Him if He would show you more.

You will find that He will whisper into your heart and make the world of the “real” as metaphorical as a bad dream.


32 comments:

Anne said...

WOW. Your words mean something to me...they provoke passion and inspiration. Beautiful.

~m2~ said...

That we are constrained by flesh and blood and three dimensions and that there is so much more for us to experience?

i surely hope so...

That the beauty we see here is just a pale reflection of what real beauty, real joy, is.

amen and amen.

your writing is truth, what you are speaking about, even though i know i need to re-read it so it will truly soak in; it hits upon a truth that may not be tangible, but is real nonetheless.

David said...

And one day we will all experience the joy of no pain and only peace and comfort. Extremely powerful peace that was directly from your heart.

BHGA said...

A beautiful heartfelt post...blessed that you shared ....I keep you and your family in prayer.

God Bless,
Donna

bjk said...

A friend of mine, a new friend ...I am sharing your site with her...YOUR JOURNEY is real and she will benefit from it. That's the point isn't it to live or lives, share our experiences pointing always to Hiim so more and more can come to KNOW HIM as you do..keep writing and pointing us to HIM.......What a God....In Christ becky

curious servant said...

Thank you for your kind words.

I do hope that others find Him through words I share here.

Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

John said...

Man, there's so much meat in this post that I choke trying to absorb it. But I prefer to choke rather than miss any of it. What an awesome proclamation of the reality of the supernatural realm of our God.
It's all design, and it's His design and we will always see it through a glass darkly until He reveals it all to us.
Absolutely exquisite post! Thanks for making my day!

Lorna said...

Thanks for the comment on adoption. It was timely :)

Great post here too. scary dream - but a GREAT conclusion.

prayers for your son

Brenda said...

Aha! I'm able to get here at last! Thank you for your visits down south.

I'll be back when I'm not completely brain dead from helping with 3rd grade homework.

susan said...

What a post. Had to re read it to take it all in. Also read your Sinners Annonymous post. I can realte to what you write. Have you heard of Jobs Daughters? My daughter is a member of this girls organization, which is based on the story of Jobs suffering.

Anonymous said...

praying for you and you family,
thanks for sharing your life with us!
group hug (((()))))
janice

Maripat said...

Take care. You and your family are in my thoughts. I do know what you mean about that feeling in your chest.

MMM said...

(gasp)

Oh, yes.

I feel it sometimes too, and it is expressed in a sudden drawn intake of breath and a closeness to beauty that blurs through tears, but I feel it.

Sometimes I remember to say, "Hello Father", but other times I am so caught helpless by it that all I can do is feel it.

Like an arrow shot through my clay, straight to the GodSpot that I know exists.

AMMMen, brother.

Keith said...

Wow!
If I might judge your character, your heart from your post, you are a fine man and God has and will continue to bless you and yours.

Anonymous said...

i had a disturbing dream last night. i dreamed our church, curious servant, caught on fire again. the rest of the old building burned. it took forever for the fire trucks to arrive. once they did they stood around & talked about the best way to fight the fire. norm told me 'they don't use water anymore.' all the while adults & kids are going into the building & have to be pulled out. i'm paniced while everyone else seems at peace. i'll have to think on this one...

curious servant said...

Thanks for sharing that.

I'll pray for you tonight.

curious servant said...

What if this is a metaphor for salvation? What if there are those who go into church, complacent, and do not take the threat of a different sort of fire seriously?

Who knows? I suppose He does.

Still praying for you.

JeffGeorgia said...

Thank you for such a beautiful blog. I have a bladder and prostate disease and only 34. I am going to put your blog listing on my site www.stilljewish.blogspot.com. I found your blog through Lorna's webblog (seethroughfaith). G-d is so really when you are moving forward in the right direction like the pilgrim's process.

Shalom,

Christ-Haunted said...

Hi Curious. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Your writing is very beautiful. You put the language of the soul into the language of the world. I will continue to visit.

Pink said...

hi, u commentd on my blog so thought id check urs out and repay the favour as a courtesy thing - but am really interested now - ur writing style is v fluid and natural, will definitely be back again! peace to all... :)

Tamara said...

Hi my friend - just wanted to let you know that God has once again answered our prayers and is helping to heal our pain. Tonight we are getting a 4 year old and a 2 month old. We do not know how long we will have them - maybe they will become ours one day, and maybe not. But I am amazed at how quickly God has responded. THANK YOU for praying for me - a perfect stranger. I, too, pray for you and your walk with God and with the boys.

Ernest said...

Thank you for your frequent visits and comments at "Ernest Goes to Iraq!" I appreciate your kind words and support. I also appreciate the wonderful things you have to say here at your blog. There are definitely so many evidences of God's reality and love that I wonder how "the learned" miss it all. This planet is surely God's University.

Pirate said...

Thank you for stopping by my blog. I am moved by your post. I know little of you and will peruse your past posts.

I am personally moved by your lose and your analogy of metaphors. You have put a lot out on the canvas to ponder. Thanks.

By the way your words are beautiful, your writing artitic, I will enjoy your future posts that I am sure of.

4evergapeach said...

A truly wonderful post! I can feel a lot of truth in it. Your insight into life is beautiful. God has blessed you with a special gift, thank you for sharing.

May the Lord bless and keep you in His hands.

Felisol said...

Hi,cs.I'm impressed and intrigued by what I've read in your Job blog. However, I'm also wondering why this gifted, considerate, sensitive man cs, is belitteling and tourmenting himself to such a degree. I'm very certain of a few elementaries like;we're all created in God's image, gifted and otherwise equipped the way He wants. We're free to choose how to use or illuse what God has given us, but we are human, and we are limited, not only in wisdom but also in will. (Paul has some wise words about this in the Letter to the Romes. 7.14-25, and this wonderful conclusion i chapter 8.1-2
Even if I do my very best, it will never be good enough. That's why I need God's help, foregivness and guidance,- every day.
No reason to feel bad about that. We're the lucky children of God. He loves us the way we are, and He's promised to take care of us and our children.
With all our striving and efforts we can't save ourselves. He's done it already.
May you too find rest in that.

Rowan said...

I'm curious. And this is not meant as any instigation...simply curiosity. Do you also see God as a metaphor for something else? Possibly all of us. Reflection upon reflection sort of line of thought.

Just where my mind wandered after I read your post.

curious servant said...

No, I see God as something more complex, and more simple than that.

From our way of looking at things he is as real as anything we see, or know.

But I think the reality is more amazing. I think God is a being that encompasses a reality that we can not, nor ever, understand.

There is a couple of ways to think about it.

First, let us look at the physical reality we understand. There are three dimensions of space and one dimension of time. In the dimension of time we are moving along at a pace that is based on the physics of chemical and molecular interaction.

Considering that the material that makes up the universe we know is an expression of elements (quarks) that interact with each other in 11 dimensions, I would have to start with the concept that the universe has at least that many dimensions.

So, let us accept the possibility that the true universe has eleven dimensions though we are constrained to four. Let us accept the possibility that the dimensions that we have trouble interacting with are what we would determine as spiritual dimensions. There is now a location for Heaven and Hell.

Now consider that perhaps one of those dimensions is an added dimension of time. That for the inhabitants of Heaven time is not linear but a plain. That would free the inhabitants of Heaven from being pulled along in the direction of entropy as we are. They could "walk" along side us to experience time as we do, they could race ahead, travel backward, or perpendicular. From this point of view all of creation is open to observation. Every moment. If that is true then the crucifixion could be observed for an infinite length of "time". At this point the way we view time breaks down.

Now, consider that if this is all an artifact, a creation, then the creator had to place His creation somewhere. That would imply an outside to all of these dimensions. It may be that God is greater than the dimensions of even Heaven. That Heaven is an expression of who He is. That to God time is not a plain, but a space, having at least three dimensions. From that idea we might surmise that all of creation is held as a complete thing, a four (or 12) dimensional whole.

This would also make the concept of a trinity easier to grasp. That he is one, yet three.

Imagine this. You are a three dimensional being, sitting in front of a computer screen. I am not really a three dimensional person, but am a software program that spouts out all this strange stuff, and maybe am even intelligent, but all of my experience, all that I really am or know, is on this screen that you are looking at.

Now you raise your hand. It is a three dimensional object, with five digits, but I am completely unaware of it being near the computer screen because all that I know is here, on the SURFACE of this screen.

You touch the screen. And because I am "alive" I can suddenly see you, at least your finger tip. I know you are there because you have interacted with my world. I am amazed because I can surmise that there must be a reality beyond my two dimensional one.

Now you extend another finger, and a third. I can see the similarity between the three finger tips. I can discern that they are working together. I cannot imagine what it is like for them to be three dimensional, but I know that they are somehow working together and that there are indeed one.
This is a metaphor for the trinity, but it is only a metaphor. Just as if I was truly two dimensional I could not understand a three dimensional reality, I would argue that as a three dimensional being (physically) I can discern a greater reality. I know it is real, but I have no clear concept of its true nature. I am unequipped to do so.

But someday I will go beyond the surface of the screen, and I will walk around in a greater realm, and I will be able to see and touch, and interact with a reality than can only be guessed at.

He is not the metaphor. But my understanding of Him at this point is. That does not make Him less real. In fact, he is more real than I.

Rowan said...

"But my understanding of Him at this point is."

That's along the lines of what I meant to ask about. I do appreciate the thoroughness with which you addressed my inquiry. Thank you.

I think that you and I simply have different ways of defining similar beliefs. It is always refreshing to stand in someone else's perspective for a while. Again, thank you.

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