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Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Ruminating on Rebirth

2001: A Space Odyssey, was the cult film of my youth. Many young people saw it as hope for mankind to become renewed, going beyond technology into the mysterious. Some people have seen masonic symbolism in the movie, which I have not pursued as a study. The movie meanings could include supernatural intelligence helping man or merely natural religion, as with the masons. However, there are some key archetypal images for even the Catholic.

Lately, as I sit and read and pray in a house by myself, I have been thinking of the ending scenes when the character, Bowman, (an evocative name), sees himself in a high French Baroque room at different ages, aging until he is an ancient man dying in a bed.

The scenes show Bowman watching himself age in silence. Everything is prepared for him, food, comforts, and so on, until he dies and is resurrected a some newly perfected fetus, who seems to return to Earth.

Not withstanding the various atheistic interpretations, what has been brought forward in my memory is the similarity between the cleansing of the soul, moving into Illumination and finally Union with God and these scenes. One looks clearly at one's entire life of sin while one is in the silence of the Dark Night.

Silence and complete detachment for all humans and the commerce of humans leads Bowman to reflect on his life in stages. Like the person going through the Dark Night of the Soul, being purged of all sin, including venial sin, and becoming someone new, Bowman sees himself only in silence and in being alone, without the comfort of others. He is being prepared for some type of purification which is symbolized by the perfect fetus.

Now, only God, the Trinitarian God, can make one perfect and new. But, Christ Himself had an answer to the old question of renewal.

Bowman reminds me of Nicodemus, who asked how a man could enter his mother's womb again to be reborn.

In my own life, this imposed exile which I am experiencing, is the death of self and the complete detachment of all things I love. I have learned to love in detachment, in objectivity. As one's body grows older, one's soul should be made younger. As one intelligence is quicken by grace, one sees more clearly the role of Divine Providence in one's life, even in using sin to bring about God's glory.

To live in silence, except for spiritual direction or necessities, reveals one's complete reliance on God.  Like Bowman, I have to rely on God for all my needs, all.

Like Bowman, one must have no anticipation for anything but God.

It is interesting to me that some people who have the last name of Bowman have adopted an ancient motto for their families. This motto is Numine et arcu, meaning God's Providence and my bow.  The archer is an ancient symbol of independence, like the yeoman, and one who seeks to find the center of the bull's eye. As in my earlier post yesterday, keeping focused is a necessity in the spiritual life.

Bowman is born again. So, too, are we, if we keep God's Providence and our bow, which means our own skill or gift, together. The gift is life, and the Giver is God. 

Of course, one can be aiming for the wrong thing, like Isabel Archer in the novel, Portrait of a Lady. She missed the center of the target by choosing money and status over love. We can do the same without detachment and silence. Her name is ironic, as she over-arched herself and ended up unhappy in her wannabe choices.

Let us be like Nicodemus, becoming humble in the night, asking God the real question of life--How can I be reborn?

John 3 Douay-Rheims 1

And there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
This man came to Jesus by night, and said to him: Rabbi, we know that thou art come a teacher from God; for no man can do these signs which thou dost, unless God be with him.
Jesus answered, and said to him: Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Nicodemus saith to him: How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter a second time into his mother's womb, and be born again?
Jesus answered: Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
That which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit.
Wonder not, that I said to thee, you must be born again.
The Spirit breatheth where he will; and thou hearest his voice, but thou knowest not whence he cometh, and whither he goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
Nicodemus answered, and said to him: How can these things be done?

10 Jesus answered, and said to him: Art thou a master in Israel, and knowest not these things?
11 Amen, amen I say to thee, that we speak what we know, and we testify what we have seen, and you receive not our testimony.
12 If I have spoken to you earthly things, and you believe not; how will you believe, if I shall speak to you heavenly things?
13 And no man hath ascended into heaven, but he that descended from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven.
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up:
15 That whosoever believeth in him, may not perish; but may have life everlasting.
16 For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world, to judge the world, but that the world may be saved by him.
18 He that believeth in him is not judged. But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19 And this is the judgment: because the light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light: for their works were evil.
20 For every one that doth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, that his works may not be reproved.
21 But he that doth truth, cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, because they are done in God.