To every thing there is a season …   Leave a comment

and a time to every purpose under the heaven, says Ecclesiastes.  Nowadays people say in partial and often unconscious echo, “Everything happens for a reason.” It’s a loaded statement.  In the natural world we can find pattern and order, and much of the appeal of Druidry lies in acknowledging and celebrating such patterns.  The physical world reflects an order that does not depend on human effort, a pattern which recurs and circles and balances itself: dark with light, death with life, decline with renewal.

These are comforting notions, but what of violent crimes,  natural disasters, horrific diseases?  Then the words turn glib and facile, if not downright cruel.  Tell a burn victim, a family made homeless by a tornado, the target of sexual assault that there’s a reason or purpose behind their suffering.  The statements are much less cheery or supportable in such instances.

But the statements assert even more this.  A “reason” suggests the “purpose” of the original quotation, an intention and even an intelligence behind it all, perhaps “out there” in the world, perhaps “in here” in human perception and the urge to make sense of experience.  Is the universe malevolent?  Does it intend us ill?   Or, as many suspect, is it in fact not conscious at all, and wholly indifferent to human presence?

rock

[My wife and I found this  half-ton boulder two years ago when we dug up a new garden area.  It now sits upright in our front lawn, more or less aligned north-south, and it’s starting to acquire a patina of lichen.  Unsought.  Beautiful.]

My experience with Druidry thus far has pointed me toward a perspective that comes through experience rather than principally through argument or rational process.  These questions matter most prior to experience.

It can, for instance, be pleasant to lie in the sun.  Actually lying in the sun delivers this realization after the fact.   The warmth feels good, and the body responds to the heat and light.  But beyond that, the relaxation may bring a discovery about something completely unrelated to sunbathing — a problem or difficulty I’m having. Likewise, the practice of Druidry can put a Druid in the position of discovering and knowing things unsought, without feeling the need to take a position on them either for or against.  You simply know.

Of course we can seek out experiences expressly to test the validity of a belief or opinion for ourselves — that is, after all, good scientific method — but the after-the-fact quality of unsought insight allows one to absorb the experience in a less-conditioned way, without expectations or already-formed conclusions.  Experience is primary, and all our explanations follow.   Otherwise, we’re merely echoing others’ opinions about their experiences.  Once you’ve experienced it yourself, any opinions about it start to matter a lot less.

That’s one reason that Druids I’ve met are tolerant of often divergent beliefs — they know that experience can dissolve doubts and contradictions and disagreements and leave us on the far side of mental processes and constructs, where a new landscape has opened up, and the former questions don’t matter so much any more.  Or they’ve been transformed.  Or new questions have arisen that are much more challenging and engaging.  The world itself has changed for us.

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