Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bugbee and the Tillage of the Soul

In the opening entry of The Inward Morning, Henry Bugbee writes

“I have yet to discover how to say what moves me to the endless search and research, the reflective turning over in my mind of experience.  The turning over is all so much tilling….All this tilling can be but a burying deeper of what ought to be coming out.  The moments in which something reliable has seemed to come of it all have impressed me as sudden.  Insight is earned, to be sure, but it is not steered, and it must find its own articulate form.  If it is to become more than sporadic and utterly ephemeral, one must pay attention to it, it must be worked out.”  
(Athens and London: University of Georgia Press, 1999), pp.33-34.

This is as much about philosophy as about mysticism; but it is a philosophic attention to mysticism.  The difficulty is not discovering what moves me to search; that is already known, albeit in a way that is not easily said.  The difficulty is in learning how to say it.  “God” and “the soul” and “eternity” all present themselves as shorthand for this motive.  It is enough to say them, sometimes, but they are placeholders.  They must not be said in vain.  We do not possess God; we seek God.  God is, as Eriugena intimated (in his description of what it means to create), both that which we seek and that which impels our seeking.  God’s creativity and origin-ality are complex, even if God is simple.

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