Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Crying of the Wolf at Midnight

There is a crying in the night.  A quiet lament of the soul.  You can sense it at three in the morning, and the hour of the wolf is upon you.  All the thoughts of life and the daily parade rumble through like a freight train.  

Looking out the window, all is dark.  But something compels you to head out into the darkness to discover the source of this insipid wailing.  You don a coat and slippers and your feet hit the cold pavement.  A flash of light and your down an alley.  It sounds like a dying animal. But as you turn the corner you realize the sound has internalized itself.  It's not coming from outside you, but from within.  

You look up at the stars and the moon in the uncertain skies.  And you wonder, more than wonder you yearn, desperate to know: Just what does it all mean?  What is this sadness in my soul?  Why does everything fall off short?  What idea unites all these dispirit pieces?  How can I silence the howling of the soul, as I search the streets? The hooting owl is within me, the howling wolf is my unknowing, and God is present in the dark.  

 I have been many things in my life, but one thing I did quite often was to lay awake at night wondering what it all meant.  I couldn't brush it aside like everyone else.  I couldn't pretend it didn't matter.  I couldn't chase capricious pleasures and call it a day.  I had to know.  I was curious.  I needed answers.

Metaphorically, and literally I did this many times: I left my bed, put on my shoes and my jacket and hat and walked the streets for hours.  I did this hundreds of times, thousands of times.  It was the only pleasure I could pull from life, for years.  Everything else seemed empty and pointless.  But these walks at night seemed to beam with a divine presence.  As my body wandered so did my mind.  

These are the questions we always ask, aren't they?  Why am I here?  What is my purpose?  What is the meaning of life?  What made the universe?  What should I do with my life?  What undercurrents all of reality?  

I fondly recall those walks today, as events of seeking taking place in my mind and soul.  I was after what was real.  For years those walks exposed me to beauties not often realized in the fast paced modern world.  How often do we really walk in silence and look upon the natural world anymore in our society?  Not often, is the answer to that question.  Technology has taken us away from the beauty of open roads, bristling forests and star filled skies. 

I lament it actually from time to time.  I've gotten far into it myself, and often wish I could escape it.  I yearn and envy those who live on farms or in wooded areas where they spend the bulk of their day in manual labor.  I've at times gone on sabbaticals into such lifestyles and the simplicity and freedom is quite appealing.  Not to mention the wisdom quite appealing, quite appealing indeed.  The trees are real, they speak the truth, the fields of grass are real, the sky is real and there is no illusion to them, as much as reality itself may be the dream of God.  God's dreams are quite real.  Just like yourself.  Your real.  A real dream of God.  Don't you think?  

I could not come to the apprehension of the suggestion that reality supposedly bends and contorts to my own preferences.  That had never been my experience after all.  Much more so it seems that reality does not bend to my preferences, and that is the whole situation humanity find's itself in.  We try to bend reality to fit us, we try to remake the truth in our own image, and we find awe struck that our own reimagination of the truth is false and fails to sustain itself in the realness of reality.  No, I could not take that suggestion from modern philosophers that I ought simply do whatever I felt like, and that would be my truth.  That is not true, it's not true for you and it's not true for me.  It's universally false.  Though I suppose there is one for whom reality does bend to it's will, and that one would be God.  God being perfect, this does not prove a danger to us.  Man being limited and dangerously cynical and self centered, this reality is best left to God.  Thank goodness for that.  

On the road no one could lie to me and keep me shackled.  The screens are full of lies of course.  Some truth is making it through, more so than usual, but still it's mostly lies.  The road, the trees, the grasses, the fields, and the stars don't lie to me.  They speak volumes of the reality of something greater than holds all things together.  The one I would come to call God.  Staring at the natural world so often, and so thoroughly is bound to make believers of just about anyone.  The beauty, complexity and symmetry is quite provocative.  One could call it eventually, absolutely astounding.  The more one looks, the more one realizes it.  And its no illusion.  It's not a 3 minute video on YouTube, it's there and it's in front of you and it's real.  And your in awe.  Because many of us seem to live in a state of acceptance of reality only because perhaps we are expecting to wake up.  But once you realize how real and unflinching it is, and also how beauty and harmonious, well, you begin to realize your already awake.  And once this thought has finally thoroughly traumatized you, it begins to awake your mind to the necessity for a sustaining force which allows for such a reality's existence.  That being... God. 

The weeping soul can't help but walk out into empty places hoping to discover something that might mend the soul.  The interesting thing is all humanity is born with troubled souls, and wanders about often either willfully blind, ignorant, or in search of something greater.  

The crying of the wolf in the night is the call to the adventure of the pilgrim on his search for the eternal city.  Today we might call the pilgrim the seeker.  The seeker knows there is something missing.  The seeker knows there is a God out there, a unifying force, an ultimate reality, and he or she seeks after it.  There is a deep conviction, a sensation of one's own lostness.  And there is a yearning to know.  So the pilgrim, you and I, set out to discover who can free the soul from the burdens it carries.  Through, trial, tribulation, joy and sorrow, we may just find the one who can relieve us, the God who loves us, and the eternal city for those who have received his grace.  

Along the road we encounter many struggles and tragedies.  We deal with many hardships.  But each of them seems to build us up in odd ways ,and make us stronger.  Then at the height of the hill we discover the cross of Jesus Christ.  Finally, the burden falls from our backs, the agony is broken, and the wolf is rested, at ease, and willing to go the distance.  But this is not the end of the journey, but only the beginning!  The seeker has become Christian, and Christian must make his way through all manner of struggles, trials, and persecutions to reach the holy eternal city.   

The wolf still cries, but these are cries bedded in fundamental victory dealing with temporary suffering, all be it, intense suffering at times.  This suffering is a trademark of Christian life.  Suffering is all part of life.  No drug, no pill, no sexual encounter and no philosophy can take away the struggle of life.  But the fundamental shift is from despair as a lifestyle, to peace and joy as a lifestyle through many trials and tribulations.  

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