Sunday, October 18, 2009

Mecca

I apologize for the time between postings. I have been writing, but much of it I feel too private to share here. Which is funny because I have revealed and admitted much on these digital pages, but none of what I write lately seems appropriate here.

But... Here are some odd musings. I might share for the heck of it.

When I worship on Sunday mornings and I open my eyes between songs, I find myself facing a different direction than those around me.

Got me to thinking.

I'm not facing in any unusual direction for any particular purpose. I simply stand to worship and continue facing in the exact direction the chair was facing. Those around me seem to either be facing the screens displaying the lyrics of our worship songs, or in the direction of the central cross in our sanctuary.

I end up facing about ten degrees to the left of most.

Does it matter which way one faces?

It matters for some.

When I lived in an ashram I oriented everything in my rooms eastward. There are some Hindhu concepts there, but I always thought it cool to face the direction that the world is spinning toward. I liked the idea of aligning my face to exactly the same direction Earth itself is trying to face.

My second favorite direction is north. I almost always know where north is. The top of the world. The fount of the magnetic field, the axis upon which the earth turns.

Still, in church I am not facing east or north or at the cross or at the lyrics. I am simply standing up, with my eyes shut, in the same direction my toes were pointing while I was sitting in the chair. Simply standing up.

I know the spot on our planet that is directly beneath my feet. It's a little over a thousand miles south of Perth, Australia. Waves in the Indian Ocean are rolling beneath me.

I almost always know where the moon is at any given moment. If I don't, I can estimate it in a moment, for I always know what phase the moon is in.

Knowing my directions became an obsession for me in 6th or 7th grade. I was certain my stepfather was going to leave me somewhere and I would have to find my own way home.

So, it occurred to me a couple of weeks ago I was not facing the cross or the lyrics, or the center of the stage as others were. I thought... why I don't face in any particular direction?

Did you know that on December 22 the earth is directly ahead of the sun as the sun races at 155 miles per second around the galactic center? On September 22 the Earth was exactly adding its speed around the sun to the exact direction in which the sun races.

"Ok Will... I think I understood what you are trying to say, but I gotta say, I can't for the life of me understand why you sit there and think of this sort of stuff."

That's what you were thinking, right?

Well there it is. I noticed I wasn't concerned the other day about what direction I was facing when I stood during worship.

Those who practice Islam know exactly where the city of Mecca is, for they kneel and pray in that direction five times a day. And I know where I am, but I make no move to face anywhere in particular when I worship.

I suppose if I were to choose to face any direction during worship, I think I would prefer to turn and face the others worshipping with me. I think it would be cool to think of my worship reflecting off someone on the other side of that group, and together our mutual worship might channel into the direction He is. But since He is sort of everywhere... seeing him as a part of the body of Christ, The Church, is as good a direction as any.

When I worship I do consider where God is.

I love to do that.

Scares the snot out of me.

The cells of my body are made up of all sorts of enormous chains of atoms, grasping onto each other with ionic bonds that make them useful for all sorts of things.... bonding oxygen so it can be carried to my cells, water's slightly imbalanced molecule acting as a perfect little magnet to make things flow together and drag them around.

It's cool to imagine one of those atoms in one of those molecular chains. Those massive neutrons and protons expending all their energy just to balance the tiny negative charge of the electron racing around it so very far away... If we considered the proton the size of a world, the little moon of the electron is circling around as distant as the furthest planet.

All that emptiness there.

I seem so solid. So here. But in reality I am far more nothing than I am something.

And, in the deepest part of who I am... I look at those protons in the center of those atoms, and imagine the tiny one dimensional threads which make them up. I imagine them as tiny violin strings, singing a song of existence... the vocal chords of God. I think of matter as the spoken Word. They exist because He sings them into being.



And then my mind, and heart, do a flip, and I think large. I think about this spinning galaxy, the Milky Way that less than a century ago we all thought was the entire universe. I see that pinwheel piece of jewelry spinning madly about, every 250,000 years, and how it is dancing toward other galaxies, and all of us...



the Milky Way and Andromeda, and the large and small Magellanic clouds, and dozens of other galaxies, all performing a dance of gravity in which we are all headed into the direction, Ursus Major, the direction of our supercluster, which in turn is a part of the virgo supercluster, which is too far/close for us to understand it's exact mechanisms.

But we have seen whole super clusters off in other directions, and we can discerned how they throb with a pace that is in the billions of years, and we can see the quicker heartbeat of those superclusters, an enormous blackhole in an enormous galaxy, shouting its beats of merely 10,000 years.

I think about those structures when I worship and I imagine that there are millions of these things, each with billions of galaxies, each filled with billions of stars.

I think about that when I worship.

I imagine that amazing universe observed by a being of pure joy, pure love. I imagine it moving to His breath, and sparkling beneath His mighty gaze as He views it all at once, from it's bright birth to the moment of it death (which only He can see), and it feels like He is immensely happy with it. I imagine a joy He feels, a love He shares within Himself, a trinity the muslims do not understand, and I feel Him through it all.

From outside the largest of all structures, including time itself, all the way through the world I know, and on down to the tiny strings singing existence on levels below the realm of light, for light itself needs more room than the spaces where He is.

And I think about this strange spark within my breast, this turning, flopping thing I think of as my spirit, and I feel it's joy in worshipping this grand spectacle. And how it sings toward Him, and He is somehow here, aware of me.

So the direction of the building, the cross, or the stage, or the lyrics, or the direction of the moon, or the rising sun, or the axis of the spinning Earth, mean nothing when I consider who it is I am standing before and offering a song of praise.

It doesn't really matter which direction I face.

7 comments:

Judas Hate said...

Absolutely love this post.

And how you always come full circle with your anecdotes.

BTW - Brought about the other day when asked about certain topics of discussion which can easily become heated (i.e. religion, politics, science)...I smiled to myself as I told my children of my friend who might very well be the only one I know who is pro science AND religion (and so well educated in both:-)

Curious Servant said...

I'm glad you enjoyed this odd little post, Brother!

Erin Wilson said...

You've got a beautiful mind, Will.

Peace

Anonymous said...

don't understand all of you mr. will but i'll still call you brother : )

msmarymagdalene said...

Lucky, lucky you.

Jada's Gigi said...

OK...Wow! and no, it really doesn't matter which way you face...your spirit is always facing HIM who is the ALL and IN all.
You are doing well, yes? :)

jollybeggar said...

nice to read your thoughts again, will. just dropping by to say hello. don't blog much anymore- for me it's a discipine that threatens the fragile balance of a life of chronic overextension.

in any event, your post reminded me of a song that i wrote a couple years ago based on a section of augustine's 'confessions' with a little hiccup from revelation 7 thrown in for good measure.

in which direction do we face, indeed, that we would receive the revelation of God when offered it?

shalom, my friend.

***

what do i love when i love you
what is the object of my affection
God? what is my God?

who do i love when i love you
who is my hope and my salvation
Lord? who is my Lord?

you shine into my soul
where space cannot contain you
you speak with a sound
that does not fade with passing time
the fragrance of your presence
remains with me in essence
the sweetness of your name does not grow stale

what do i preach when i preach you
what is my message of exhortation
Word? what is my Word?

salvation belongs
to our God and our God alone
all honor and praise
to the one who sits on the throne
'worthy is the Lamb
worthy is he...'
is the eternal song
of the soul set free

where do i go when i seek you
where do i search for your revelation
God? where is my God?