Monday, March 17, 2008

O'Keeffe "Dark Mesa and Pink Sky"

from Psalm 23
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

What does it really mean to restoreth a soul?

I suspect our souls have knowledge of God's loving light - which is well-known and well-experienced in the next dimension of existence. Our souls are figurative vertical pathways through which we may look and sense glimpses and hints of that loving light. Yet, we are designed - it is God's perfect design - to be much focused on our horizontal Earthly concerns - to the point we again and again, in an unavoidable repetitive pattern of behavior, become over-focused on horizontal, to the detriment of our natural need for some vertical integration.

Thus, we are led to rest in green pastures, and beside still waters. Our attention is pulled away from the strictly horizontal; and we see and experience - through our restored souls - the pure light of God's love which is known in the next dimension.

"he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake"

My semi-funny mental image is of myself as a sheep, being led along a mountain path, and all my temptations (7 deadly sins type stuff) are off to the sides of the path, hiding behind rocks, beckoning me to leave the path.

Could it be we are not strong enough to resist evil? Could it be only God is strong enough to defeat evil, and our only way of resisting evil is to be led be God?

For myself, it be. In my weak moments, I've no chance against evil. But, really, in my strong moments, when I've often believed I was strong enough to defeat evil, I really was not. In those moments, because I felt really strong and capable, I pushed God to the background. I secularized my effort, because I knew I could defeat evil. Me. On my own. And I did, I thought, defeat evil - at least in short spurts.

It strikes me, now, that the short spurts were merely part of evil's strategy. It strikes me, now, how I really had no concept of the power of evil. I was a like a little child who imagines he is the strongest force in the world. My childlike hubris made me an easy mark for evil. I now see my only hope is to follow God along the path.

A semi-swerve: for many years, as an adult, I was uncertain if evil was real. I hadn't given over much effort to reading the Bible. It didn't feel right that "evil" actually existed. At some point, I began to notice hints of true evil in the world. It began to feel right that evil actually existed. I noticed The Lord's Prayer, spoken directly from Jesus' lips, included "deliver us from evil." I've always believed in Jesus. If he spoke plainly of evil, well, evil must exist. Somewhere in the amalgam of all my experiences, and of The Lord's Prayer, I began to believe true evil exists.

Still, for some time, I did not comprehend the full power of evil. That's why I thought I could beat it. Me. On my own. I really, really thought I could beat it. And I was really, really wrong about that.

"for his name's sake"

I think this means I follow God out of love for him, and out of love for the loving perfection of his perfect plan.

What is spoken of in Psalm 23 was, I think, at the root of my horrible, terrible mood of the last three weeks. In those weeks, the world seemed terribly unfair, depressing, and full of pain and woe. And the world really is very often that way. My problem was: I forgot that existence plays out as part of God's perfect plan. I simply forgot there are positive and loving reasons for the existence of difficult and painful things. I had no vertical integration. I was trying to do life myself, on my own, as opposed to being led by God, out of love for his perfect plan.

Notes re: "Dark Mesa and Pink Sky"
owned by The Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, Ft. Worth, TX

O'Keeffe's description: "This is a very good one. The mountain is a very dark rich green-Hills have earth red in them-sky pale pink."

Was Georgia O'Keeffe both making art and having fun with this? The bottom, beigy part looks like a human torso: buttocks to the left and shoulder blades to the right. Or, is that knees to the left, and ribs and bosom to the right? Or nothing?! Heh.

The orangey part looks vaguely like a Picasso-esque woman. At least four places look as if they could be a bosom and a nipple. I see what could be thighs and knees. I see what could be a Picasso-esque out of place human bottom. Or, do I see nothing? It's all part of the fun. Georgia O'Keefe is maybe messing with me, in a fun way.

And/or: did she look at the mesa depicted in the photo, and see human form in the earth? Is she making a connection? Between earth and human; spiritual and physical; temporary and eternal? Is she knodding to and revealing one great designer?

Georgia O'Keeffe, photographed by her husband: Alfred Steiglitz

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