Comfort of Nothing

Addressed to a mailing list of old and dear friends, during one of the perennial and genial “Nature of God, or Someone Like Him/Her/It” discussions, and whether Immanence vs. Transcendence helps one sleep better at night:

Back when I first learned the noble trade of printing, I noticed that matchbook covers looked different to me: I could /see/ tightness of registration (e.g., printing a red border around a blue square), or if the press had had too much ink or water in the ink/water mix; soon the entire printed universe looked different too. Similarly, I’ve recently become interested in geology (in a purely amateur, that is to say love-inspired, sense): and thus the hills look different to me now; I can /see/ the slow subduction of the Pacific Plate in the ripples of the surrounding hills, and am beginning to /see/ the two-million-year process which started with the Sonoma Volcanics and, in my brief lifetime, has become a rich winemaking paradise (and, I can /see/ nomadic hominids coalescing into cities whose long and varied line of cultural gestation led some of them to settle here to grow that wine, and others to create the words and technology by which I can type these thoughts and send them to you).

And in all that, there’s only one of me, and of you, and of everyone we know, and those we don’t. The cosmic and infinite seamlessly married to the finite and human: complexly connected, simultaneously ephemeral and eternal, trivial and important. “You may see where I have been, but no man may see My face — and live.” For me, that perspective/experience — the vasty void pinpricked by kindness and curiosity, which are the signs by which “ye shall Know” — is more comforting than the boxed-in Gd painted by human prejudice and predilection.

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