Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Murmur of Rain

This week these two thoughts ran a parallel path in my mind, it seemed to me anyway. Truth was they were on subtle, but convergent tangents that crossed tonight. 

John Hull who went completely blind at the age of 45 wrote:

"I opened the front door, and rain was falling. I stood for a few minutes, lost in the beauty of it. Rain has a way of bringing out the contours of everything; it throws a coloured blanket over previously invisible things; instead of an intermittent and thus fragmented world, the steadily falling rain creates continuity of acoustic experience."

"[E]verywhere are little breaks in the patterns, obstructions, projections, where some slight interruption or difference of texture or of echo gives an additional detail or dimension to the scene. Over the whole thing, like light falling upon a landscape is the gentle background patter gathered up into one continuous murmur of rain."

In the video still above from the short film about John Hull called "Notes on Blindness" Hull's character says "If only rain could fall inside a room, it would help me to understand where things are in that room, to give a sense of being in the room, instead of just sitting on a chair." In the film the directors simulate rain inside the kitchen.

C.S Lewis grieving his wife shortly after her death:

"Slowly, quietly, like snow-flakes – like the small flakes that come when it is going to snow all night – little flakes of me, my impressions, my selections, are settling down on the image of her. The real shape will be quite hidden in the end. Ten minutes – ten seconds – of the real [Helen Joy] would correct all this. And yet, even if those ten seconds were allowed me, one second later the little flakes would begin to fall again." 

Tonight as the wind cuts around my little hut, bleeds through palm leaves, I can hear it distort, blunted by this, whistling through that. In fact, it is only because the wind comes into contact with resistance that we hear it at all. Like rain revealing contours or snowflakes of memory falling like a shroud over an image, that which can not be seen (at our vantage) is experienced still because of another unseen thing, the wind.

In Radiohead's video for their song "House of Cards", no cameras or lights were used. Instead, 3D plotting technologies collected information about the shapes and relative distances of objects. The video was created entirely with visualizations of that data. 

The bible says that faith is the evidence of things not seen. What if then, when we pray in faith, (and any prayer to an invisible God is faith) it is a little like 3D plotting or even echolocation. That is, prayers going out and revealing the contours of things not visible. But unlike Radiohead or the dolphin or bat or the stealthy submarine, what goes forth in prayer does not collide with Thom Yorke's head or fish or insects or treacherous underwater terrain, no, what if prayer goes out into the invisible world and collides with what is beyond our natural physical perception. 

And furthermore, while were on about this sort of thing, what if, (like we are want to sing), Grace does fall like rain. And what if, like Mr. Hull's rain, Grace falling creates a continuity of spiritual experience. Reveals the hidden world behind all worlds that corrupted sight cannot see. And like Mr. Lewis' snowflakes, Grace is God's impressions and selections and thoughts settling down on the true image, the true nature of things.

Hull finishes his poetic passage on rain by saying:

"This is an experience of great beauty. I feel as if the world, which is veiled until I touch it, has suddenly disclosed itself to me. I feel that the rain is gracious, that it has granted a gift to me, the gift of the world. I am no longer isolated, preoccupied with my thoughts, concentrating upon what I must do next. Instead of having to worry about where my body will be and what it will meet, I am presented with a totality, a world which speaks to me."

And isn't this just it! That God's grace rends the veil to reveal the world! Though we had eyes and could not see, He gives us the ability to truly percieve, and see beyond ourselves, beyond our isolation and our preoccupation with our thoughts-- and we too are presented with the gift of a new world, a world that speaks to us, a world where finally, our spirits can be at rest.

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