Collodi’s 19th century tale, Pinocchio, is based on the idea that the knot in a piece of pine wood is an eye: Italian pin (pine) + occhio (eye). The wooden boy who becomes real comes from this: the eye of the pine. What if each piece of the world, and the world as a whole, is regarding us, and awaits our answering gaze for us both to become real?
Freud wrote that the structure of religion is the structure of paranoia: the idea that you are being watched. But perhaps this potential gaze is simply how existence is, and not a paranoid delusion. Certainly Jesus thought so:
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows" (Matthew 10:29–31)
(This is the verse that grew into the song, “His Eye is on the Sparrow.”)
St. Paul went further. Not only is God watching, but the whole creaturely world is looking to us and awaiting our collaboration:
For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. (Romans 8:19)
This last Tuesday, we practiced the presence of beings interested in us from out of the total spiritual personhood of the universe. We each arranged for a kind of inner guardian, and then let ourselves be visited, with that guardian’s approval, by beings of many kinds. We specifically invited beings of the building, the landscape, the planet, the sun, the moon, the helpers of humanity (post-mortem humans or angels for instance) and from the realm of faerie: elves, fairies, trolls, dwarves, etc. We weren't trying to establish a lasting connection with a specific being; we were running up and down the scales of our relatedness, as Spangler puts it.
It was hard going for some of us. We ran into our anti-entity prejudices. Some of us also had profound experiences, as a few people shared with me in private later, of such realms and beings.
It is a living universe, to which we contribute our own aliveness. That’s the point. Living, sentient, and intending. Sentient and intending in its pieces, sentient and intending in its totality. Next week, we’ll continue the exploration of being as beings.
Only in a living world, in which we matter, in which our thoughts and attitudes matter, do we have a hope for total activism. Our outer actions can flow from a connectedness that delights in boundaries and difference, as well as in merger and unity.
All blessings to all,