My father's a mountaineer.  He doesn't hike; he saunters.  He'll quote Thoreau on this, refering to his essay, Walking, and what it means to go a la Sainte Terre---to "saunter."  Like Thoreau he walks slowly and lovingly upon the Earth and sees what my first- and even second-glance cannot see. As a saunterer, he's a Holy-Lander. He doesn’t just see the granite that forms these peaks, he discerns the mighty forces that belched all this from Earth’s belly; he senses the achingly long, painful processes that twisted and tilted these rocks into these splendid mountains. He sees more than meets the eye. He doesn’t just look at the Earth; he experiences every blessed part as holy. Spiritually, you must do the same.

When I say you must hold loosely to form, I mean that you must be able to look beyond words and doctrines, rules and rituals while still honoring them, and discern the substance they bear. In the case of Holy Scripture, you must be able to look deeply into and beyond the words to behold the Word. You seek direct, first-hand spiritual experience, not indirect or second-hand. At some point, you must stop thinking about words and behold the Word.

Isn’t this what Holy Communion requires you to do? Heaven help you if you cling to the Bread and Wine and miss the One they bear. But I’m sure you don’t do that. In prayer you let the forms—these signs of Christ—point the way, then you enter the silence and mystery. And as you do, the grace of the Holy Spirit carries you in faith beyond the elements themselves into the Elemental—the Holy Trinity.

In the presence of the One the Bread and Wine bear, the forms vanish and you’re face to Face with God.

If you have eyes to see.

AuthorChris Neufeld-Erdman