Saturday, March 27, 2010

Random thoughts on "The Star"

When our expectations have been rattled, when our status-quos fall short, what then? In the previous post on The Tower, I mentioned the Star. This is a beautiful and inspiring symbol. We think of a star on a dressing room door, "when you wish upon a star", "thank your lucky stars", when you do well in elementary school you get a gold star on your work.

All of these associations are bits of what the star card can refer to on a superficial level. They're nice things we don't need to dismiss, but there's something deeper that I often see to it. As I mentioned before, the stars from ancient times have been used for navigation. They are a reference point beyond our worldly conditions that tell us where we are at and a reminder of things. Science tells us that the light from the stars we see may have long since burned out at it's point of origin, but who can say how far that light will travel before it is ever unsee-able? Ok I might be getting a bit too deep here, but in the context of a reading the Star card is like a flash of insight, a higher "nudge" that helps us move forward.

The saying that "we are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but rather spiritual beings having a human experience" comes to mind. When we can, however briefly, put aside our egocentric ideas of what we are and what's important, the star symbolizes that recognition of not just what we can become but what we truly are. For most of us this is a fleeting insight. C.S. Lewis (who I have blogged about before and respect) tells us that most vision is usually followed by a sort of trough period. From his own experience and that of many others who have known both the preceding trials that led to a vision as well as the struggles afterward he concluded that living with a vision didn't always necessarily have the luxury of a certainty in it, but rather that we have to live "as if it might be true".

In William James "Varieties Of Religious Experience", the theory is that a spiritual experience is not measured in it's drama or sensationalism. It's validity is in what it motivates us to do. Sometimes this can be an earth shattering vision, more often it is those little glimpses that move us to be part of great things that need to be done. In the film "Schindler's List" the title character does not initially set out to be heroic, he starts out as a capitalist who sees an opportunity in using concentration camp inmates in his factories. Along the way though, something in him wakes up and what some see as a miracle goes on, a bit at a time. Later near the end of the story he laments that he could not see it sooner, "how many more could I have saved" he asks. But remember what he was up against. Would it have worked had he known? I believe Creation  can work though our foibles. We are often best just given the little glimpses.

 Another way to look at it; have you ever tried to look directly at a star? Sometimes we need to see it out of the corner of our eye. Even when you can focus on it clearly, how well do you think you could walk through a dark forest while looking at a star? You would trip over every root and branch. What we often have to do is glimpse and travel, glimpse and travel. The saying "be in this world, but not of it" comes to mind. We are here for an important experience, we need to at times get caught up in things, go to the fair, eat too many corn dogs, go on all the rides, but not get so caught up that we get lost in it. Sometimes we have to go through the Tower's upheaval, like falling off the Ferris wheel before we come back to this awareness. Hmm a Wheel Of Fortune reference? Perhaps, but that will have to wait til another post!