Tuesday, May 14, 2013

San Miguel Mission

Stopping by one day, another Mission to check off the list (not of all there are, but of all we happen to pass by)--and suddenly the list is of minor concern.

San Miguel is a poor mission in a poor town.  But for that very reason it seems more real than so many others, which are truly tourist destinations.

It strikes me, out of the blue, a thought that epitomizes what an epiphany is like, a sudden revelation, a view into the nature of things--and a view that connects all sorts of things that were just there, floating around in my brain.

Here's the setting: I am wondering aloud, in the presence of Mim, that here we have a mission named not after a concrete person, a saint--San Luis Obispo, San Buenaventura, Santa Maria, Santa Ynes, and so forth--but after an angel, St. Michael, archangel.  And suddenly the angel takes on the reality, the adobe building of the mission.  It is there, as present to me as Mim is present to me.

The riff following that epiphany carries me through reflection on the nature of angels, their 'creation' to give name to the presence of God's message to us; and it ends in the elevation of that name to its place in the hierarchy of traditional philosophical thought: as an idea, an idea that is more real than the shadow of that idea we see in the work-a-day world.

I have since gone on, in recalling that day every now and then, to appreciate for really the first time the wisdom of Plato concerning the ideal forms--or, the true ideas. For these 'ideals' are more real to Plato than the material of the world.  It is thus the idea that helps us to see the true nature of reality, not reality that gives us the idea.  Or something like that.

I have also, since that first insight, gone on the appreciate the nature of God as the great idea.  For thinking of and talking about God as a person just creates too many problems, for me I might add.

But the idea of God, the idea that there is something beyond and within what we see and do in our everyday life, that there we meet the deepest part of our being and the loftiest dimension of our world--this is beginning to make more and more sense to me.

I'll leave it there for now; for that is where I am at present.

In the meantime, we are packing up to leave Bakersfield, heading off to who knows where--I don't--except someplace in the Midwest for the summer.  But this time I hope to share my journey at least one day a week.

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