That Which Boggles
I received the email from my friend the science teacher on Darwin’s Birthday. He was expressing admiration for Quakers. He had read a bit by some British Friend stating that Quakers had no quarrel with Mr. Darwin or the Theory of Evolution. He was impressed, and was telling me so. I accepted his kudos and for the sake of integrity stated that there were some Friends who might not have much truck with Darwin, but that I was not one of them.
My friend is no kind of religionist. He is intelligent, gentle and kind. He is tolerant of those like me who live their lives in conversation with what I am sure he thinks of as an elaborate imaginary friend called God. But he feels no need of such supernatural supports.
Yet I am not sure that he and I have no common spiritual ground.
I think this because I have heard him describe what I would call a mystical experience, what early Friends would call an opening. He is a science teacher, secondary school. He came to it late after another career. He came to it because he had continuing and powerful experiences in the pursuit of science. I have heard him describe the experience of discovery of that which boggles the mind. He describes this experience with deep passion and obvious joy. He can describe being a good enough student, an attentive enough observer, that he reaches a plane where he bumps into truth so amazing that all the mind can do is boggle – gaze in rapt awe – try to accept what it can only incompletely comprehend. He describes the desire of all scientists to take that comprehension just one step farther than the boggle point. He calls this science. I, of course, have the same experience and call it religion. But I recognize that his science is one very fine religion.
The Worship of That Which Boggles has meetinghouses – classrooms and laboratories. It has rituals and methodologies. If you advance far enough you get vestments – lab coats and regalia. It has acolytes. My friend is there for the acolytes. He is the master of novices. He teaches all his students, but he watches for the nascent believers, the ones who get excited when they near the boggle point. And he is an evangelist. He actively attempts to introduce them to TWB. He knows that not all will be boggled – that only a few will pursue further bogglement - that fewer still will make it their life’s passion. But he scatters his seed widely and harvests where ever life sprouts.
His religion, like mine, believes in the doctrine of continuing revelation. That which we discern, and test, and live into will develop and change and grow as our understanding grows. We both believe in Truth, and we both believe it is blasphemy to claim that you have grasp of the entire truth.
I have worshiped at this altar. For me it was college and the double slit light experiment where light behaves like a brazen floozy, and shows you wave or particle depending on what you ask for. She cannot be both and yet she is. I have been boggled. I occasionally worship with the Bogglers still. Whenever someone will teach me at the Zen beginner’s level that I need. That is why I like to have my friend over for an ecumenical dinner, he is a fine preacher, and I happily sit under his preaching.
I believe that his Boggler and mine are one. I do work in a different department. The division of hearts and souls, tech support, specifically. I am but a lab assistant in the laboratory of sanctification. I help people when their work gets stuck. I know some best practices that produce reliable results. I help them check their numbers. I listen to their reports and give feedback. But once in a while I still get into that Holy of Holys of pure bogglement.
I have stood with souls who are despairing, screamingly suicidal, no hope, no comfort, no reason to live. They stand facing a precipice, contemplating an all or nothing experiment in permanent pain management. I stand shoulder to shoulder with them, but facing the other way - pointing towards life. What always amazes me is how these souls can be simultaneously and completely committed to opposing, contradictory aims. They want to die and they want to live. It cannot be both ways, but it is. I see wave, they see particle. And then if I am very blessed. In that moment of paradox, they take my hand and take one step away from the edge. Where the strength comes from to do this I do not know. But I know that I am boggled every time. And I know that my simple attention, my observation of their pain, changes something.
That is pastor Schroedinger’s sermon, I believe.
It must be Holy Week
Because my father's clivia is blooming. Since he left this planet to explore other opportunities in 2005 his rare yellow clivia has bloomed for Easter every year, regardless of when Easter has fallen on the Calendar. For the last couple of years the Mother plant has had double bloom stalks, and this year the pup that I separated in 2007 has bloomed, and this is a very young bloom. Sometimes they do not bloom until their seventh year!
So hear are the three Easter Blooms.