Saturday, May 11, 2013
Swimmer and Flyer
"Tell me about swimming, and I shall tell you about flying", the bird sang to the man.
And the man said to the bird, "More - I will tell you how man was made for walking on water."
The bird said, "I always thought you were exceedingly strange creatures; made for something as strange and contradictory to you as walking would be strange and contradictory to the whale who, having walked on land, was then made to fly."
"It is so", said the man. "At first when the Man Catcher took me to the tides, he slung me on his shoulders. They were such big shoulders, and I was but a thin little waif. He swam with me on his shoulders and the water seemed shallow. I was convinced it wasn't all that deep when he took me far from the shore."
"Or rather you did not need to think about it."
"One way of putting it," said the man. "The Man Catcher then unslung me from his shoulders in the water and held me as I learned to swim. The water's depth then started to dawn on me."
"Like the great curve of the earth as you go higher in the air," said the bird.
"Maybe so. But then he let go of me in the water while I was only still learning to swim. I was always thinking I was always learning and therefore never ready to try and do it. There is no ready, really. He let go of me. And I swam. But you know, together with that excitement and confidence of strength, I can't describe how horrible the thought of the deepness of the water was. The water suddenly became very, very deep. And monsters from the darkness below were suddenly, in my mind, free to come up and devour me."
"A horrible thought", said the bird, shuddering.
"Yes. Then when I was most tired - we were so far out from any shore - I started to panic. 'Surely you will carry me on your shoulders, Sir, for there is no way I can make it back to shore!', I said, quite sure that he would not let me drown from losing my strength. But with that, the Man Catcher said, 'Well, if you're tired of swimming then get up and walk!' And I said, 'But how can I possibly start walking on water when I've only just started swimming, and when I am so tired out at that! You're asking too much! How?!' And he answered, 'Just like this!' And with that he climbed out of the water and started walking around on its surface like he was dallying through a quiet meadow. He put his hand out to me. This gesture took away my fears and I took it. Swimming suddenly became a thing of toil - a mean feat. I was walking on water! But you know, I cannot describe how very deep, how bottomless the water then became, with no guard - not even the thinnest glass - against the fathomless abyss yawning directly under my feet. The walking was so simple, but the abyss was at its most real!"
Then the bird sang, "The higher we fly in the air, you know, the more we feel he sustains us, and we become like nothings - nothings sustained and kept from annihilation by him whom you speak of, sustained by his very own being. We seek not to understand ourselves, but only as he understands us."
"Yes," said the man. "When I walked on water, the less I concerned myself with myself, the more I was available - because I was so small, so at times like nothing - for the administration of innumerable riches and for receiving the depths of His love. And by the way, those depths of love made the abyss below my feet something like a puddle - or rather, all the facets of its depths were revealed, even though unseen."
"The earth is revealed to us in like manner. It is then we are usually asked to descend back to it and sing our songs."
"The walking on water", said the man, "was something I thought might be attainable by thinking the waters more and more shallow, and me, more and more practiced, until one day I could just step out and walk. But it was very much the opposite: the water became deeper and deeper, and my knowledge and expertise less and less so."
"It is then heaven is revealed to you in like manner, for the Man Catcher emptied himself to death, abandoned, and you attain the song that is so ancient you have never sung it yet."