Wednesday, April 02, 2008

 

Traherne--rest of Chapter Two

Traherne--Chapter Two Continued

God’s Thoughts

I had a bit of trouble with this part, mainly because it seems to me that even to strive to know God’s thoughts is dangerously close to heresy. Overreaction, yes, I know. Traherne says that in God’s revealed Word, we have his thoughts, but I wonder whether is so. We have a glimpse of God’s thoughts, yes, but a glimpse only, enough to tantalize and make us ache for more. I believe it’s John who says that there was so much more that Jesus did and said that it would take volumes upon volumes to get across. We do not have all of God’s thoughts. Period. To desire to know all things as God knows them, to see all things as God sees them, is natural, and good. But I cannot agree with Traherne that such knowledge, such sight, is possible while we yet draw breath. Saint Paul clearly states in Corinthians that we don’t know, we don’t see, only when we are in heaven will any of that be revealed to us in its full glory. “How shall we be led by his divine spirit till we have his mind?” Traherne asks, and I agree with the question. But I think we cannot know God’s mind just yet. This bit smacked slightly of the serpent in the garden, and perhaps that’s just my fibromyalgia and exhaustion (2 hours sleep from which I awakened in incredible pain) talking, but there it is…

Prizing Things

Also, slight trouble here, and it may be with the translation. I don’t possess a copy of the original text. God made only one to enjoy the world, Adam, and “not a multitude,” says Traherne, and therefore the world is meant for only one. I get the meaning here, and in the next section, that the individual must be the one who truly enjoys the world, who sees God in the skies and the rivers and the fruits and the animals. I get it. But I also know that God made more than one originally by making Eve to be Adam’s companion, and therefore God must have meant us to enjoy his creation together, as couples, as groups, as parents teaching children, as children caring for parents. I don’t believe God meant for us to become hermits (nor do I think that this is what Traherne is saying). Solitary meditation is a delight and a necessity, but I think that congregating is also essential. I do not, like Traherne, think that each individual in their enjoyment of creation “are made to enjoy it for my further advancement,” though as I said, I do get the point that Traherne is trying to make.

Everything Points in the Same Direction

I loved this paragraph. Very rich and affirming and glorious! A contrast to the slightly off-putting verbiage of the previous two sections, this section is very clear and concise. Enjoy what God gave you, realize that you are his “heir, child, and bride.”

God Delights in Giving

“To know God is life eternal,” says Traherne, and this is a sublime way to recap the entire Bible into one small sentence. We must ever strive to know God, with the caveat that we understand that we cannot know everything just yet. The striving to know God pleases him, and we can begin to know some of God’s thoughts by loving the universe he gave us. As Traherne points out in the next section, this planet of ours is just a speck compared to the rest of creation, and we need to realize that, to take this vastness into account when we think about God. God didn’t just give us the earth--he gave us all of creation. He gave us “infinite and eternal treasures that are to abide forever after the Day of Judgment.” This is no small thing, but a thing to be marveled at, to be wondered at, of which to be in absolute and profound awe.

God’s Presence and Eternity are our Companions

“The omnipresence and eternity of God are your fellows and companions. And all that is in them ought to be made your familiar treasures,” says Traherne. Our guides on the road are the only guides we should ever want or need. To be bounded by eternity is to see oneself surrounded by all of creation, to see oneself almost as floating amongst the stars, with God himself beside us. What an incredible vision this is! Look beyond, Traherne is shouting at us, look beyond and up and around and look within too, and find the infinite treasure that is God’s eternity. Quite a powerful thought, that. And one that is all to easy to forget in the hurly-burly of everyday life, when we are bogged down in the decision whether to buy the new strawberry Chex or the Mini-Wheats.

Loving God with all the Powers of Your Soul

If you love God, you will necessarily love his laws, his ways, because you will understand that his laws are “commentaries” on his works. God’s laws are not made to break us, but to bear us up, to show us the way. God’s laws “command you to love all that is good, and when you see well, you enjoy what you love.” God is far from unreasonable. “You will feed with pleasure upon everything that is his. So that the world shall be a grand jewel of delight unto you: a very paradise and the gate of heaven. It is indeed the beautiful frontispiece of eternity; the temple of God and the palace of his children.” When you unreservedly give love, you will receive love in return, and thereby see the very gates of heaven.

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