"Whoever cannot seek the unforeseen sees nothing, for the known way is an impasse." Heraclitus
Alex McCloud, the lead character who narrates a film I am making, says at one point "The world is an abstract painting. We try to make order from it. But, it can't be done."
What we can do is accept and love the abstraction, the mystery, of life.
The photograph at left presents an image we can easily identify. If the tree were presented abstractly we would nevertheless struggle to make sense of it by sorting it into something we know.
Once we've classified, we often stop right there. Our naming creates the "impasse" Heraclitus references.
When we have labeled something or someone we think we know them. Instead, we have blinded ourselves to the sacred mysteries that live in the soul of that being.
The essence of the tree thrives in mystery.
We are more than our name and role.
Obvious as this statement seems, the process of classifying each other - so necessary to our functioning - can create a tragic obstacle between us and those we seek to love and to heal.
If you are suffering with cancer, do you want to be classified as "The colon cancer in room 4002?"
Clearly, your nurse needs to know where you are. But, do we need to convert you into your cancer?
"Of all the defenses human beings erect against God [Love], the most vulnerable are our places of suffering," the Dalai Lama wrote in The Good Earth. "Healing, therefore, speaks to the deepest and often most hidden part of us."
When I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in 1963 I hid that information - for decades. I was embarrassed and didn't want any questions. I feared being labeled as weak or "defective" - as "the kid with Crohns."
In order for healers to heal, they must delve into the land of the unforeseen where our deepest mysteries lie. Doctors or nurses who slotted me into a disease category and sought to use only mechanical cures remained stuck (with me) at the impasse.
You and I can be photographed. The picture will tell the superficial viewer little about who we are. Those who are patient enough to keep seeking may travel beyond our two-dimensional surface and glimpse our hearts.
If I were painting a self-portrait, I might try abstraction. I would use many hues to suggest the strange-colored palette of my moods. I would embed music into the canvas along with some big question marks. I might even use a little poetry.
I cannot paint or sing my mystery because, by definition, I don't know it myself. But, I can honor it.
We need to be seekers. For in seeking, our mystery may join with the mystery of another.
This is the miracle of Love's healing in the land of the unforeseen.
-photograph - erie chapman