Depths of Understanding

Through translation and the molten nature of meaning in language, I have recaptured in my imagination something pleasantly sober the way even the hardest truths can be. No matter how hot the fire burns or how brutally it breaks down constructed things to irreducibly simple forms, it still brings warm life to the cold and reminds us of deep things intrinsic to human existence.

Consider the earth, with only the surface inhabitable, and yet beneath an entire world un-trodden by man’s body, where only his dreams and musings may go. Understanding goes deep with a person deeper than their body, but it also comes forth from within a person in ways that effect their tangible livelihood. There are lightnesses of understanding which men contemn, and there are depths to which some men go that many who go there seem stuck upside down with their bottom sticking up in the air: completely un-comprehensible to the surface mind. The lightness does the heart good, like the sea air does the deep-sea diver’s lungs good. But the Ordinary alone is not enough to maintain a profitable life. The ordinary life in which we live– that layer of reality in which we move around, make decisions, and react with decisions and chance far greater than our own control– is ruled by other layers of reality. And the deepest layers are the Highest layers. Let me lay out these layers as I see them.

-1. Humor. Humor is the level of understanding to which one person goes, to make another person exert greater understanding than himself. It makes the ordinary feel that he is indeed sane, and this fool who prates on and on makes him who is listening feel that he is sound. It is the humble gift God has given humanity to encourage and comfort the world with its ever-precarious, ever sobering, ever deepening conditions of decay and uncertainty and trouble. Well-crafted humor is the very fragrance of understanding rising up from the vents of that which is deeper than us. But, when used effectively, humor raises us to great heights, then either sets us down again, or plunges us into the deeper understandings into which we must dive. O the thrill of the hammer swung backward through the air, only to rush forward to drive the nail home once more! O the exuberant and silly breath we take to dive once more to the depth of understandings!

0. Ordinary Reality. The realm of the real and clear. Here far is far, and near is near, a spade is a spade, and a cigar is a cigar. Do not read between the lines. Words are sufficient. Listen to what is said. Read what is written. See what is shown. Many find this simple life good. It is. And yet the corruptions beneath the surface have far too often twisted the surface to that which is not simple. Look around you at the dishonesty of man’s hearts. A simple weight well-calibrated is true and good. It is the plethora of dishonest weights that make this level of understanding a dangerous ground. “Don’t believe everything you read” say the wise, and wizened. Solomon also said, “The simple believe every word, but the prudent consider their steps.” ~Prov 14:15.

1. Joy— Ah the pledge of good faith! There is truth beneath the surface! The Promise of a better surface life comes from digging a deep foundation and a roomy storehouse where the temperature is cool year round. Such cools calm the temperamental flares of heat which spring from a lack of reserve. The deep waters of life flow beneath the surface, and cool water is a nourishment to every soul seeking shade and sweetness in this broken desert of life. A man of understanding carries within him an oasis in any desert! He is the happiest of fellows to embrace the streams of truths that water all of the plants up on the surface. Indeed, for many this results in a nerdy withdrawal from all things surface and ordinary, and thereby leaving those without refreshment feeling abandoned, ignored, and deprecated. Nevertheless, these ordinary folk gain the hearty laugh of staring at people up-ended, bottoms in the air seeking some sort of treasures and refreshment that would otherwise be bought with a great cost underneath the hard sun.

2. Weight— The pledge is sweet, and the collection of waters tastes good, but there is too much water to carry around with a person. A man’s canteen, strength, stomach, and mind can only handle so much. Eventually, the immovable and inescapable nature of what is understood leads many to shy away from the responsibility which is thrust upon those who have understood it. Not only are there many who are in need of the life here in encased, but the one who knows of it comes to see the real predicament at the surface. The pressure and weight of all the understanding comes to sober the one once drunk with the pleasure and raucous laughter of understanding, and he comes to see his own face in the water, and in that face recognize his own makeup of water, and his resemblance to the owner and supplier of all the water in the world. These are those who are stuffy and self-absorbed and feel impregnated with the grand self-importance of that which they hold, lest they give way to the deeper levels of understanding which require greater courage.

3. Sorrow–Fingernails grind on a chalkboard, and a bone fallen out of joint is a deep pang of something wrong in the world. Understanding brings grief, that depth of the weight of all the world crashing down on broken supports. Seeing people in reality slip off the edge into oblivion unnecessarily just because the scales are tipped out of favor of real justice. It is heartbreaking to know not only the problems for so many, but the connection of the problems to other problems both cause and effect, and to see this web of impossibility, like the web created by a mirror shattered and fragmented from some point of impact. Understanding in people who face the deep underbelly of the world have one of two directions they can go now. It is too thick to explore here, you cannot go left and right. You can return to the surface with your sorrow you have learned, and boast over your understanding as deep as you went. You laugh at those who revel in new discoveries, because you have forgotten the pledge of good faith, and have seen heartbreak the more understanding you have grown. You can return jaded. Or you can go down deeper.

4. Surrender— The point of impact, where the real world we live in was shattered like that mirror is the brokenness of humanity which must be acknowledged and dealt with at the source of the problem: me. G.K. Chesterton understood this when asked in a Newspaper, what is the problem with the world.” He responded with these two words, “I am.” This is the moment to which Understanding leads a person: will you seek to preserve your life, or will you lose it? Here again, the man who has understood– who has “stood under” the reality of life and seen it’s fractured-ness and fractals and fractions–has two choices. He can lose self in annihilation or an inglorious manner that utterly rejects the goodness of understanding he learned at the beginning. Or He can entrust himself to the wise One who led him down this far on his journey of understanding, and commit the unpardonable sin against self: surrender to someone greater than yourself who requires your all with no caveats, no reservations, and no exit strategy. This is the “Lose yourself” that Jesus spoke of when he said, “He who seeks to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the Gospel will find it.” It is a risk. It is very much like death. It’s like giving up, except it’s more like “Okay God, you win. I won’t keep fighting you anymore. I will actually submit to you, and accept that You are the Savior and not me.” This is the decision to which your journey deeper into understanding has been leading. There is Reality, Joy, Responsibility, Sorrow, and ultimately Surrender of self to the One who has proved how worthy He is through his impeccable track record.

This is the end.
Of the old life.
Of the New life
This is the beginning.

5. Peace

“There are depths of love that I cannot know, til I cross the narrow sea. There are heights of love that I may not reach, til I rest in peace with Thee.” ~Fanny Crosby

Understanding brings a person to the core of all that is, and he discovers the need to surrender, and once there is surrender, suddenly, from the very core of a person’s existence to which Understanding has led, a life is born anew. A life that is never-ending because it is begun by the One who is Never-ending. A life that is not your own, but belongs to the One who truly owns all things. A life that is set not on a broken platform, but the deepest possible foundation: to the core of reality itself: The Maker, the Word, and the Resurrection. This is where Understanding can bring a person, but only with humility, love, grace, and courage–honesty with self and God. He is there at the center of the layers of reality. And in His presence is the FULLNESS of the joy the understanding of which one found hints at the beginning of his journey. He is there, eagerly awaiting those who will take up their cross, and lay down their lives for His World-saving cause.

The Depths of Understanding
Illus. by Aner327

These are the Depths of Understanding as I have seen it. And I hope that God gives you the heart to go to this depth with Him. Remember: “He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek him.” ~Hebrews 11:6.” If you find yourself at any point of this journey and you have stopped short of the Self-Loss Surrender that leads to life, go back to the last point you found yourself, and seek God. After all, “He who seeks God understands all things.” (Prov 28:5)

Fire and Stone

Is the earth rock solid?
Scientists know
There is fluid flame
In deep places below.

The rock is so good
It does not move
The world stands fast
Until rock breaks

The fire is so good
It only moves
The World expands
And shatters the rock

But lo the mystery:
Fire takes good stone
And forges it anew
As one solid piece

And from that solid piece
New life grows
And foundations are laid
For the time it is given

What is stone does not last
Unless fire melt it
What is fire cannot settle
What ignites if fire touches it

God is good: true and living
His word settles the future.
His word is ever breathing
Right now in your hearing.

[No] One

[No] One

The problem isn’t God’s willingness to teach
It’s our willingness to learn.
No one wants a course in suffering.
No one wants a diet of hunger.
No one wants a hard road of obedience.
No one wants the hill of difficulty
No one wants the splintery cross on their back
Only to be suffocated when you have carried it long enough.

No one wants to learn humility or compassion
The fear of the Lord or the depravity of his own soul.
No one would be utterly dependent on God
Knowing that God is not subject to our fleshly wants.
No one wants to give up everything to have nothing but God.
No one wants to leave behind their job,
Their home, their family, their hobbies,
Their possessions, their favorite things,
So that all they have is a heart to know God alone.

No one wants to pay the price to know God.
No one wants to forgo opportunity for the necessity of waiting.
No one wants to cease from their work
Until God Himself arises to work through them.

How endless, yet how tireless His search
For just one with a heart to know him!
The one to whom the Son wishes to show Him.

Mark the man of mean estate
Who holds for sin that powerful hate
And bears the scars of loss and shame
So not in vain He can bear His name.

For such a price, God can be known,
For such a cost, Christ’s pain is shown.
And only to the fire-purged heart
Will God His glorious life impart.

Meditations of a Pearl

~It’s so hard to see in this place.
So deprived of even warmth as a comfort.
Nowhere to hide from the loneliness inside
The soft, cushy beddings beneath me beat me up.

This irritating, grating, infernal thing.
It won’t let go, and deeply I am suffering.
Keeping tender so life can keep me well-rounded
Or hardening myself and becoming a less beautiful thing.

This insignificant, minuscule granule–
This meager task I am given to do, bearing up under life’s weight
Around me the ocean of political and circumstantial upheavals swirls by,
Toying with my shy shell like one of an angry child’s legos.

It is endless, futile, like the sun’s faint glow which doesn’t warm me here.
My fists may clench like my teeth, unwilling to swallow the silt life thrusts me into
But anything kept in my fist will escape the moment my pearl sees the sun
That day when my tired muscles shall give out,

Whether by the prying knife, the ravenous creature, or the cruel, stony washboard of life
Eventually my deeply and closely guarded treasure will emerge
And through sifting be surfaced to be found by the Merchant.
May He find a pearl of great price.

~Inspired by T. Austin-Spark’s sermon, “A Pearl of Great Price.”

A Return to Rest

That kindness we do ourselves
When we echo what reality serves
In etching out the dream-eral* expanse
Of a sort of discovery you don’t know exists

I enjoy games like Myst: Riven
Where the puzzles all make sense
And where the hours tick slowly clicking
To find my way back home where I belong

It’s what my soul wants most of all
To see Him, to be held in His embrace
And every time I attempt to scratch the page
I feel it scratching back with honesty exchanged

Can a canon fire into the night
And not explode where it landed?
A thousand voices echo in one chorus
While my own voice must remain authentic.

A brisk and dismal wind tears comfort far away
From the ever watchful peace that guards my heart
A wind of many swirling truths all clamoring to be heard
When one speaks louder than any strange or English word.

Alas the earth does moan beneath me
It’s song, a dirge that still rises up in hope
A hope that sees the beginning and the end
And indefinitely shoots at that target He intends

Can wings bear aloft this coil?
Can dust breathe life back into itself?
Is there any way life can still continue on
Unless the way is paved with living stones?

The Devil knows the power we underestimate
The power of the good coming to those who rest
In the faith-full assurance of the kindness of a Savior
Who calls, “Be yourself. It’s all  creatures of I AM can do.”

A burning bubbles up from satisfaction
Rejecting too much pleasure without rest
The soul must find its peace in One who works
And who took a day off to enjoy what He had made.

*Ephemeral and Dream are combined here into dream-eral

Fleera 3 (Trolis Fleeris)

It is common in my walk through this world to find flowers–
Roses downcast and wilting on the ground,
And to take them in and make a place for them to be appreciated and adored.
The first I ever did this was Fleera,
Which I named such more out of aesthetic than science.
It was my third year in college
A flower well-formed which fell by my college dorm,
I found just prior to a walk in the woods with friends.
I held it and kept it out of sentiment and captivation
While one friend cast her petals to the wind
And the water carried it far away.
I brought mine home to a plastic bowl
Usually used for chicken noodle soup
And let it float there in all its stemless beauty.

The second was the journal in which I myself was plucked
And was called from my job at Walgreens as a service clerk
To return to my home, to float upon my parents’ waters.
I waited there uncertain of what to do,
Crying out to God, “I do not know why I am here!”
I wrote in my journal, Secor Fleeru
“How is it that I have come to be here?”
And my grandfather’s health began to decline
And I stopped my mouth.
Because I was not grafted into the branch of Walgreens
I could offer my fragrance by his bed close to his nose.
Which suffered from aspiration of the lungs and pneumonia.
And when he passed, the resplendence of my heart for him
I placed in song to be played in his ears by his bedside.
As he crossed the threshold into the gates of glory.
And so Secor Fleeru found a purpose for his pages.

The third happened today, almost three years to the day.
I mowed the lawn around my parents’ house,
In the back there was a Rose bush planted above our septic tank
It had flourished under my Graceful sister’s Joyous planting.
And the previous evening, my parents and I looked out and marvelled
At this one rose towering high above the others toward the heavens.
The next morning I found two smaller buds in a 6 inch ceramic vase
But these were not the Fleera.
The Fleera I found while I mowed the lawn.
I came upon it, recognizing it from the night before.
It lay downtrodden, it’s pedals browning on the ground.
I stayed my blade, and reached to clutch the stem.
It was not cut, but broken off,
By the fierceness of the weather and its weight.
I took it in, not counting the browning edges against it.
I gave it its own crystal cup.
I rested it up against the other smaller flowers.
I smelled it and relished its more poignant fragrance
The fragrance of a beauty bruised yet still shining

Because it is alive to be beautiful
Fleera 3
And it is beautiful to be alive.

A Reckoning

From the deep chalice of my memories
I imbibe in the elixir of youthful life
While agonies breathe cries in muscles strained
By the ever-present struggle to master the day.

The soul’s tongue is fueled by that strong drink
So as to cast the shadows of pains far back
Against the wall with dark streaks overcome
By more than their present significance.

Oh to days long to be remembered
That lark in my throat that sang to the clouds
Carving pictures only the child’s eye can see
My wand’ring heart must not be loth to frequent.

And let this heart not soon forget
That moment when all days were a single breath–
Each breath, a gift of the whole of my life
No breathless dust of earth could ever tell.

The Branch

The Branch
By Luke Ferguson
Written July 18, 2007

Deep in a forest there stood a great tree
With roots down deep in the earth of green;
And out of the tree grew branches with leaves
Each branch had a purpose apart from the tree.

The longer the branch stayed on the deep-rooted tree
The greener it got and the stronger it seemed.
As thicker, and longer, and stronger it grew
The branch had a purpose, its deep heart knew.

One day to this tree a woodsman came
Seeking some wood to light his flame:
Branches thick, and long, and strong
Whose purpose was to him to belong.

He sought the wood, and saw the branch
On the tree deeply rooted in green.
With ax in hand, he did not blanch.
And separated wood form life of tree.

“A fire log, full of sap.
Hard to ignite, but slow to burn.”
Off he walked with the wood on his back.
To the tree the log would not return.

The tree kept growing, making more.
The woodsman lit the fires of war.
The chosen branch fulfilled his life
And ended consumed in glorious light.