Friday, May 14, 2010

Nameless

I was taking my daily constitutional a couple of days ago  - two miles of circuitous walking through the nearby cemetery. When I walk alone, my exercise routine becomes a prayer walk and a walking meditation.

I wound my way through the heavy rows of stones, standing in lines as if waiting at a gate to enter a Steelers game. The names of the deceased were engraved in large and deep letters as if to insure that time would not erase their identities.

Suddenly a thought came to me: "These people really thought they were separate beings with different names, but now look at them!" That one really thought, "I am Sampson," and that one, "I am Jenkins." The idea of trying to name the unnamable essence of a human being seemed so silly that I laughed out loud!

Then I thought, "Until this moment I also thought that I was a separate person with my own permanent name, but I am the same as them!" This thought was more than a thought. It was the awareness that in some essential way I am the same as these people whose bodies are buried in this graveyard.

The Bible says that the human race is one. We are one in Adam and one in Christ. "As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive."  When the author of Hebrews wrote that all Levites were in the loins of Abraham when he paid a tithe to Melchizedek, he wasn't kidding!

We are in our ancestors and they in us. DNA proves this is true. We are one human race - one body, one spirit. The breath that God breathed into Adam moves my lungs. The spirit that gave him life lives in me. This same spirit-breath that once animated all these bodies in this graveyard animates me now. I am in Adam, and Adam is in me. The same spirit animates all.

I looked at the birds flying over the tombstones. It is the same spirit that animates them.  The squirrel that scurries out of my way - the same spirit. The trees - the same spirit. It is even more basic than that. The headstones exist by the same spirit, as does the gravel under my feet. No wonder Jesus said that if the disciples kept silent the stones in the road would cry out!

A moment later I thought, "How do I know this?" Is this just a passing thought? No, it is more like remembering. It is like recovering an obvious fact that somehow I had forgotten. But how could I forget this?

I do not know how I know. I cannot name the nature of the knowing. It comes from that from which all names come. How could it have a name? All thought arises from it, so how could it be a thought?

Lao Tzu said, "The Way that can be spoken of is not the eternal Way. The Name that can be named is not the eternal Name." God said basically the same thing to Moses in the burning bush. When asked his name, God said, "I am who I am." A nameless Name. And for me he shall remain nameless.
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Photo is the gravestone of an "Unnamed Infant" March 25, 1906 - March 28, 1906.

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