Sunday, February 26, 2012
Anagogical Scene, Flint Hills, Central Kansas
Sky Lab II Vitruvian Man Logo
A good friend recently suffered a heart attack which was controlled with the application of a stint in his heart. He knew I liked to photograph the worldly beauty found in things like colorful blooms, sunrises and sunsets. After a few days in the hospital, he was released late in the day. He sent me a message that he and his wife had encountered a beautiful sunset building in the west as they drove home. A large opening formed in the clouds to release a burst of white crepuscular rays “shouting to all that GOD IS IN THE HOUSE”! The scene played out quickly just as they came upon the sound of church bells ringing. His closing salutation read, “WOW!! Life is GOOD”!
My friend had experienced an anagogical moment in life. I hadn’t ever encountered this term until that very morning as I ironically finished a book titled Da Vinci’s Ghost. I sought out the book because the image of Vitruvian Man has always captured my imagination and also provides an anagogical moment for many when encountered. It seems that the term anagoge could be defined as the uplifting spiritual sense that is experienced when we encounter glimpses of heaven in worldly things such as aha text or breath taking images. The book is centered around one of Leonardo’s most published drawings of Vitruvian Man. I’m certain that at some point in your life this image has crossed your path as well. The astronauts of Sky Lab II used it for their mission logo. The Roman architect Vitruvius first proposed that the human body could be fit within a circle, representing the divine, and a square, representing the worldly. That gave rise to the theory of microcosm, man representing the cosmos in miniature—created in God’s own image. Leonardo was able to actually draw this concept, possibly using himself as a model, and keeping man at the center of each symbol, by lowering the square and positioning Vitruvian Man with arms and legs spread in the circle while overlaying Virtuvian Man standing with legs together and arms outstretched in the square. The iconic image was the culmination of numerous hours of studying human anatomy to gain an anagogical perspective on ourselves and our universe. Leonardo was the consummate Renaissance Man whose genius and inquisitive mind literally moved the bar for all mankind. And although he departed this world over six hundred years ago, the ghost of his image still lives on in Vitruvian Man.
Leonardo discovered that there is a beautiful structure to the universe and the world we inhabit. The mathematical sequence of Fibonacci numbers can be determined as each number being the sum of the previous two, starting with zero and one. This series of numbers can be found in many diverse facets of nature such as in the spiral of a chambered nautilus shell or the branching of trees, the leaves on their stems and the veins in the leaves, the number of petals on many flowers, and the number of florets spiraling in the center of daisies and sunflowers. It’s been said that if you look into the glory of a blooming flower, you’ve looked into the face of God.
The Fibonacci sequence of integer numbers relate to an ancient Greek mathematical proportion of 1.618034 that appeals to both the intellect and the eye. It is achieved as you go further out in the sequence to calculate the ratio of adjacent terms. The visually pleasing golden rectangle the Greeks derived had a proportion where the length was 1.618034 and the width was 1.0 and this shape became the basis for their art and architecture. This became the famous ratio called The Golden Mean of Euclid and Aristotle and the divine proportion Leonardo da Vinci used for Mona Lisa’s face. It has since been valued as the most beautiful proportion to the human eye. The golden ratio is integral to the horizontal and vertical beams of the Christian cross. And da Vinci’s Roman Vitruvian Man strikes the same pose in the square as Christ’s body on the Roman cross.
Friday, February 17, 2012
Monday, February 13, 2012
Rolling in the Deep, Destin, FL
Waves I & II, Carolina Beach, NC
It’s been said that God is a conscious spiritual being and we humans are conscious mortal beings with a spiritual soul. The creator of this universe also permeates every corner of this sea of consciousness as wave after wave of human beings are created out to sea, transfer energy from point to point as we relentlessly travel to the far shores, and dissipate as we reach the beaches of our final destiny. Interestingly, surface waves travel through space and time towards distant shores while the points on the surface follow circular or orbital paths. This phenomenon can be observed as the wave curls upon the shore, expending its energy. Our lives also follow a variety of circular paths as we answer the call to adventure in this earthly existence. God is impossible to completely comprehend or describe, but one analogy is that he is the sea of being from which all waves emanate. The Kingdom of God has been described as the Ultimate Reality and the ancient practice of mindfulness and prayer can enable us to touch the water within the waves. Achieving this peaceful state can facilitate detaching ourselves from any concern about the coming and going of the waves as we strive to live in the present moment, rolling in the deep.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Be Still, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC
One of the most comforting words that Jesus left us with are recorded in Mathew 28 when he assured us that “I am with you always, even to the end of the age”. But unfortunately, we’re not always with him. Presence is the key to all spiritual disciplines. God informs us in Psalm 46 to ‘be still and know that I am God”. If we are present, we can experience the Presence. This lesson was most evident when he was visiting with his friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus. As Martha scurried around the household multi-tasking for the honored guests, Mary simply chose to sit in Jesus’ presence. When Martha objected, Jesus responded by making certain his point would be understood by repeating Martha’s name twice. When he did that, he is especially trying to get our attention. He says, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is a need for only one thing. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her”. The point is central to the secret of life; to live continuously in His presence in the present. That’s the amazing grace of God at work in our lives. He is always there for us and He is always waiting for the day when we first realize this and invite Him into our life.
Friday, February 3, 2012
Miramar Sunset, Destin, FL
“Three men stood by the ocean, looking at the same sunset.
One man saw the immense physical beauty and enjoyed the event in itself. This man was the ‘sensate’ type who, like 80 percent of the world, deals with what he can see, feel, touch, move, and fix. This was enough reality for him, for he had little interest in larger ideas, intuitions, or the grand scheme of things. He saw with his first eye (body awareness), which was good.
A second man saw the sunset. He enjoyed all the beauty that the first man did. Like all lovers of coherent thought, technology, and science, he also enjoyed his power to make sense of the universe and explain what he discovered. He thought about the cyclical rotations of planets and stars. Through imagination, intuition, and reason, he saw with his second eye (mind space), which was even better.
The third man saw the sunset, knowing and enjoying all that the first and the second men did. But in his ability to progress from seeing to explaining to ‘tasting’, he also remained in awe before an underlying mystery, coherence, and spaciousness that connected him with everything else. He used his third eye (heart space), which is the full goal of all seeing and all knowing. This was the best.”
--Richard Rohr, The Naked Now
February Lenten Rose, Jamestown, NC
Just how should we respond to this priceless gift of life we have received anyway? And just exactly how can we live our life to the fullest, day in and day out? Ann Vaskamp was given a dare to list A Thousand Gifts or blessings in her life, right where and as she was living it at the time. So she began a journal with “morning shadows across old floors” followed by “cry of blue jay from high in the spruce”. She hadn’t ever imagined them as God’s gifts until the writing down became like “unwrapping love”. Of course, it’s much easier to have an attitude of gratitude when life is going well. But simply being thankful for God’s presence when one of life’s storms is passing through can be even more comforting if we have established a grateful mindset. The secret can be found in the “lesson learned’ of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the people of ancient Philippi when he writes:
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength”.
Paul has found that the elusive grasp of happiness is solely based on the worldly temporal circumstances we pursue such as spending money, collecting stuff, and the adrenaline highs of risky adventures. But nature doesn’t like a vacuum. So when the stock market crashes, the toys rust, break down or become obsolete, and age begins to erode health, despair can set into our lives. But there is lasting joy to be found in the strength and love assured for all in relationship with the source of life.
So I set out to try listing a few of my own every day gifts. My first thought was that I should be traveling to some exotic land far, far away to provide inspiration. But staying close to home would ultimately be more revealing. The fact that I was contending with a winter cold added to the challenge:
• Stimulating strong dark coffee.
• Warmth of throw cover.
• Welcome sunshine slicing through open blinds.
• Gentle whir of furnace fan.
• Sinus draining vapors of hot shower.
• Cool vanilla flavor of cream soda.
• Soothing sounds of smooth jazz.
• Comfort of hot chicken soup.
• Retirement time to read and regroup.
• Assuring presence of Heavenly Father.
• Warm thoughts and memories of loved ones.
• Bright pansy’s smiling on the porch.
• Spring catalog in the mailbox.
• Tender beef brisket and balanced Merlot.
• Colorful winter Lenten rose blooms.
• College hoops on television.
• Undisturbed night’s slumber.
When Jesus broke bread with his disciples during their last supper he asked them to “remember me and give thanks”. Eucharist or thanksgiving is the best response to God’s grace in our lives. We see in life what we look for and intentional Thanks Living helps us to be more present in the presence of the source of life that brings lasting joy into our life.