We had the great pleasure of seeing Andy Offutt Irwin and Rose Cousins last night at the Red Clay Theater in downtown Duluth. Andy Offutt Irwin, for the uninitiated, is a storyteller/singer/songwriter/human-Gumby who tells stories that come deep from within the well of his spiritual tradition and which point, frequently, to the heart of God.
Rose Cousins, a singer/songwriter who was new to me, sings about pain, and loss, and other deeply human events which, at their heart, are not merely human events after all, for there is something deeper. I was reminded, as she sang, of Howard Thurman's quote which inspires the title of this blog: "If I hear the sound of the genuine in me, and you see the genuine in you, I can go down in myself and end up in you."
In many ways, this is what we talk about when we talk about God as love. God is the deepest, the most basic, that which is at the root and that which is the sum total. I do not mean to offer some panthesitic bromide, but rather to acknowledge that when we talk about God, too often we speak as if we are describing a scientific theorem, as if the only thing to do is to spend enough time trying to understand it, and then you will have the whole thing licked.
God's presence is much deeper, revealed in beauty and laughter and justice. God's presence is with us, and yet it is something to chase, to search for: not in order to get away from other people, but with the acknowledgement that in the final analysis, you can no more separate loving God from loving people than you can separate your own head from your heart.
We seem to have come to a place, as a Christian culture, where we are certain that the life of faith is about understanding more than it is about anything else, so that if we simply understand, if we simply collect enough sermons, we can trade in those tickets for a fulfilled life, or for entrance into Heaven. Faith is much deeper, much more beautiful, much more wonder-full.
Rose Cousins, the singer last night, sings this in her song, The Darkness: "To take a light into the dark is to know the light. To know the dark, go into the dark."
It is easier to go about things simply trying to understand. But--and this is just a suggested assignment--try riding the pail down into the well of beauty sometime and sit awhile. I will acknowledge that it is dark, and sometimes dangerous, but it is a deep well, and you will find that you are not alone.