"Red Dirt Mysterion" -- 2nd Orthodox Blog is Up
Since I am a recent convert to the (Eastern) Orthodox Church in America — a friendly outgrowth of the Russian Orthodox Church in this country a generation or so ago — there is a lurking Orthodox perspective behind the entries.
My perspective may or may not be obvious in any given entry. It may not even be mentioned.
But, since I’m trying to find my own Orthodox voice in all matters great and small, the perspective is behind any given entry even if nothing very Orthodox’ish is said.
Now I know why: they led directly to the Orthodox Church. (I now say that if John the Baptist was the Forerunner of Messiah in first century Palestine, my Forerunner for Messiah must have been John the Buddhist.) And because I still cherish all of those spiritual forerunners of mine, my interests tend to look like a crazy-quilt.
Here’s where this crazy-quilt blog gets its weird name: Red Dirt Mysterion.
“RED DIRT”: a name for a soil common enough in Oklahoma that those parts of the state are called “Red Dirt Country.” The pictures above [NOTE: this refers to the header on the new blog] are of the birthplace of Woody Guthrie (no longer standing) in Okemah, Oklahoma — smack in the middle of Red Dirt Country.
That’s where I was born and raised: Oklahoma. I loved my home, and love it even still, even if I no longer live there. But red dirt itself always depressed me. It looked so desolate, so barren, even if thick with flora. The creeks and rivers that ran through red dirt country were invariably … not running. Bone dry.
That’s because Oklahoma red dirt is mostly an iron-rich clay that absorbs water like nobody’s business, leaving the top layers dried to dust. And the dust blows everywhere. Cars that drive over it, come home looking like really dusty, really old, red peppers.
(None of this has anything to do with the Dust Bowl, by the way. All manner of dust blew around then, not just the red stuff. What’s more, most of the Dust Bowl was in Texas, Colorado and Kansas. Only a small part of western Oklahoma was involved. Elsewhere, the red dust just kept on a’blowin’ because that’s just what red dirt does when the top layers dry out.
(Oh, why not another “by the way” while I’m at it: ”Red Dirt Country” also happens to be the name of a fairly recent new “trend” in country music. It just so happens it got its start in Oklahoma. I’m not all that much of a country fan — although I love bluegrass, and all manner of banjo picking, country/western included — but I’ll say this for Red Dirt Country: it rocks!
(And heck, one last “by the way” since I’m on a roll: Maybe it’s a titch more than ironic that Oklahoma today — a state that gave birth, literally, to a Woody Guthrie, and once had the largest Socialist party in the country — is a red state, as national voting patterns now are described.)
And believe it or not, all of those things, “by-the-way’s” included, fit in here too:
It was, and is, a spiritual challenge for me to discern Holy Spirit in the “red dirt” places of life and the world. To find the Creator’s beauty and meaning where we least expect it.
We had a focused definition of “sacrament” in the Presbyterian Church: “an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible Reality.” It’s a good one, too; one I still use a lot.
That’s the Question of questions, for me.
Can anything — does everything – convey Holy Spirit, even if it’s not obvious to us? Even if Holy Spirit announces its Presence as a desolating Absence?
Orthodoxy says it does.
Orthodoxy says all matter and all space/time, in all the dimensions and multiverses there may be, is saturated with the "Uncreated Energies” of God.
Those energies, in Catholic and Protestant thought, usually are considered to be “attributes” or “characteristics” of God — love, mercy, goodness, patience and so on. Considerably more abstract, lots more conceptual.
It’s pretty left-brained.
In Orthodoxy, they are just what we call them: energies.
You encounter the Energies. You feel, you experience the Energies. You don’t think them, or at least not very much, let alone try to explain them (they are, after all, Mysteries). You live in them, participate in them (2 Peter 1:4b — “4b” means the last part of verse 4).
It’s more right-brained, I reckon you could say.
So when I go plowing through the “red dirt” of my own life, of history, of the world and its joys and sorrows, clarities and ambiguities, loves and hates and everything in between — can I sense the Mysterion that’s there?
O Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth – we Orthodox pray, turning our attention to the Holy Spirit – You who are in all places, and who fill all things … .
(If I were Hindu and/or Buddhist — and I almost was, at one point in my spiritual journey — I’d say this is the Net of Indra at work. In case that’s not familiar, you can Google it and finds tons o’ stuff.)
The Incarnation itself — God becoming fully human without ever ceasing to be fully Divine — means space/time matter/energy conveys Holy Spirit just fine.
Everything is Mysterion, at least potentially.
Even red dirt. Or so I hope. Finding out, sniffing and poking around in all kinds of stuff, hoping for at least a whiff of the Sacred ... that's what this blog is about.
Read with me, and together let’s find out.