I tell stories now – stories of traveling the expansiveness with the Trickster and the Wild One. And last week’s story, Chapter 1 of my tale – The Divine Trickery – got me into a little trouble.
Because I have to account for the “truthfulness” and answer the question “What drugs are you taking?” – I now offer a brief interlude from the story that I tell, and do some accounting.
A magician isn’t called upon to reveal his/her secrets, but I will share mine. I don’t want to confuse my readership – for if my life was hijacked by a Confidence Man Trickster, I am now awake and an agent – and I’m in on the con.
I ask you, dear reader, do you also want to be in on the heist?
For it’s a glorious tale of Trickery to come.
Yes, there’s a game – and it’s afoot!
Please keep reading along – there’s a lot of fun ahead.
I am not spoiling it ALL here, of that I assure.
In this chapter I “sing my blues” while on a stroll with a wise sage – the Night Walker.
I give a true accounting of what my
“meta” adventure is really all about.
I do hope this chapter provides some clarity…
Feel free to continue asking questions and challenging
my authority as a teller of these tales of Divine Trickery.
And now…on to Chapter 2…
We go for a walk…
“Hey there, my little sister,” says the Night Walker. “How are you this evening?”
The Night Walker’s all-imposing form looms over me. It’s that golden hour, between sunset and night – his/her shadow eclipses my own. We have met up at the bridge that stretches over the expansiveness. There’s still a little glow of light to be seen at the horizon at the other end. We are going to walk across – to the other side.
It’s a long bridge. It’s a long walk.
The Trickster and the Wild One have been missing in action ever since we caught a ride on a wave and time-traveled back to the garden and witnessed the Naming and the birth of human consciousness. We had forayed into the genesis of Divine Imagination, and both departed from me quickly, before we could discuss what the experience really meant.
The journey we took, though, wasn’t without injury. I injured my back – and coupled with a mowing adventure where I received over 20 yellow jacket stings from the top of my head to my feet after running over a nest in my yard – I feel pain all over my body.
But these aches don’t keep me from my appointed walk with the Night Walker, as we’ve been meaning to have a conversation for a while now. I’ve been waiting for the appropriate time to introduce her/him into this tale. The Night Walker, as I say above, is a very wise sage and asks all the important questions, without having all the answers. The Night Walker is here to help me unpack the philosophical and metaphysical import of this journey – the journey that I’m on. She/He has an important role, you see, in my semi-meta-fictional adventure.
The Night Walker is an outlier – an outsider living in the spaces between day and night. Yet where the Night Walker travels, night is always close by.
“It’s been a rough day.” I say. “First, crazy attacks from the wasps, along with all the questions from my people coming at all directions: What’s this craziness you are writing about? When did you dance with Coyote on the hilltop? When did his howl first enter your heart? Are your stories real? What drugs you on?”
The Night Walker smiles down at me as I gaze upward into his/her eyes.
“You’re traveling, sister. You are embarking on a new, strange, wondrous journey,” Her/His voice booming, echoing into the still night. “When one’s journeys take them deep into the unknown, those who aren’t traveling are bound to feel some anxiety on your behalf.”
“Yes…I’m traveling…but I’m not actually entering into a real, wild wilderness somewhere. I’m really not even leaving my home. It’s an inward journey – I’m simply embarking on a particular path – maybe one I was always meant to be traveling. I’m writing. I’m telling stories. I’m exploring the truths of my heart and soul.”
“Yet…” he/she asks “and yet…in these stories you tell, you insert yourself into the tale as a character? This is what is confusing people?”
“I do, and herein lies the rub…what does it mean to be a character in my own story? It’s a semi-meta-fictional accounting of my spiritual journey – through story and metaphor it’s a tale of who I am in relationship to this world in which I live. It’s a philosophical and theological exploration as well – the ultimate art project. It’s a poem. It’s a dance.”
“And as such…it’s a bit confusing for those who care for you?” He/she gingerly takes my arm and wraps into into her/his own. We begin to move slowly across the bridge.
“Perhaps…” I sigh, looking straight ahead. “But it’s not my intention – I don’t aim to confuse anyone. I’m just storytelling.”
“And yet…you insert yourself and your autobiography into the tale. You create characters who interact with you as if these are real, true stories, just like you created me and added me to the tale.” He/She continues. “I -who was simply a subject of a piece of art, a creation of your teacher friend, Bradley Tyler Wilson – am now part of your story. You even created companions for me. They are very chatty, by the way.”
“I received you as a gift from Bradley. We exchanged art. He wanted a coyote painting, and I asked him to surprise me in return. He sent me you.
“I asked Bradley what you represented and he said:
The Night Walker is neither
he or she
female or male,
when the Night Walker moves,
it’s always night.
She/He is a searcher,
noticing whatever appears before them,
that which is illuminated
by the soft light of the moon.
He/She is awake
But not enlightened,
yet does seeks Oneness
In all supposed dualities.
The Night Walker is a muse to the artist.
“That’s a very kind thing to say about me.” The Night Walker smiles bright.
“Yes…Bradley is a very deep thinker – though he’d deny it – if I said that to him.” I say.
We are suddenly interrupted by the sounds of frogs, singing off in the distance. We stop and stand in reverie together for a few minutes – our bridge shivers a little bit as a cool breeze hits.
The Sound of a Cane Taps…
The Night Walker taps her/his cane against the bridge, regaining my attention. He/She steps forward and continues. The cane is crafted from the long, thick branch of a tree. It’s not a human made object. The Night Walker continues to tap her/her cane as we resume our stroll – a rhythm emerges that reminds me of the ticking of an ancient, grandfather clock – a simple tap to mark the passage of time.
“My friend,” I say as we walk…“My art project may include stories…yet, I know that I’m simply trying to make sense of my own story – a life that feels disjointed and full of sorrow. I’m now a investigator an examination of my life and the greater historical context in which I live to understand the human predicament we live in today.”
“And you are exploring the metaphysical as well….” she/he says. “You are peeking behind the veil at the intersection of where your social context shapes your soul and and your soulful, spiritual story that helps you shape your existence in the physical world.”
Exactly,” I reply. “And that intersection is what I call the expansiveness. In fact, this bridge we stand on is overlooking the expansiveness.
“Looking East – to the left –
we see the physical world
where my reality
by human history,
human ingenuity and
for good and for bad.
It’s where I live
in human community.
“Looking West – to the right –
we see the spiritual
where I first began
my own divine investigation.
This realm is
deep and personal
to me and me alone –
where my individual consciousness
of me as Rinnie lives
where the writer,
the philosopher and theologian
and most of the spiritual seeker
live and work.
“And this expansiveness…
these two realities come
and begin to inform and shape
“You’ve mentioned a feeling as if it’s a wedding…?”
“Yes…I sacred union.” I reply. “And if I’m completely truthful…there’s a part of me that is resistant to doing this work. I really do miss binge-watching Netflix, playing board games with friends, and day-to-day living.”
“It’s a sense of calling?” He/She asks.
“As much as I say I’d like to do other things, though, I do think something deep within me has been guiding me into this work my whole life.” I say. “The disjointed pieces of my life coming together full circle, along with a confluence of influences – my existential experiences, as well as the synchronicity and convergence of other artists, theologians, and philosophers – have led me to this work at this particular time in human (and my own) point in time.”
We walk very slowly. There is something I have to explain, and it’s important to get it right –
“I’ve been on a sabbatical…” I say at last. “A year-long retreat, a gift of the worldwide pandemic and quarantine. At first, I was scared…really scared. I was alone in the early days, and I was stripped of all human contact – my community, my friends, my social group. I was all alone, day in and day out.”
“I can imagine,” says the Night Walker. “It would be terrifying for anyone.”
“I began to read a lot. I went back to the classic spiritual literature that shaped my life. I thought a lot about my life – from early childhood to now. What forces and powers, I pondered, shaped my life that when such a worldwide mega-event happened, I would find myself alone like this? I’ve explored some of these things in previous blog posts, before I started this particular tale.
“Most recently though, months into the sabbatical – I discovered two amazing thinkers of our age – Makoto Fujimura, a Christian theologian and an amazing artist, and Bill Plotkin, Ph.D., a depth psychologist, wilderness guide, and agent of cultural evolution.
“In his book, Art and Faith: A Theology of Making, Fujimura talks about God as artist. He crafts a beautiful and thoughtful theology around God as Maker and Creator – an Artist who makes and creates through us – the Artist’s tools and medium. We, the artists, are the paint brushes, the pens, the pencils, the canvas that this Maker is using to create the ultimate art project through us. Using us as tools, this Maker is creating for us a gift. We just have to be open to it to receive it. This gift – this joint venture – ultimately belongs to the Maker.
“Every line of Art and Faith reads like a poem. It’s so beautiful. Let me share this passage:
Instead of a brutal dictator, we have a Creator God who seeks full thriving, justice, and mercy….God’s presence is real, even in the midst of oppression and darkness. God is the light that shines and places limits on evil and injustice on the earth.
What if…we begin to paint (or write songs, plays, and poems) into the darkness with such a light? What if we begin to live our lives generatively facing our darkness? What if we all began to trust our intuition in the Holy Spirit’s whispers, remove our masks of self-defense, and create into our true identities hidden in Christ beyond the darkness? What if our lives are artworks represented back to the Creator?1~Makoto Fujimura, Art and Faith
and this passage:
“Art does not come easy”: this sacred, God-giving impulse, both “doing” and “becoming a poem.” It is hard work to live in this generative love, and this is what we are made for: to paint light into darkness, to sing in co-creation, to take flight into abundance…such is the artistry of the Artist, who creates for, in, and through us.2~Makoto Fujimura, Art and Faith
“And at the same time that Fujimura’s writings come into my life – so does the work of Bill Plotkin. I’ve worked my way through his entire four book series on nature, soul initiation and soul crafting the wild heart. Plotkin’s thesis is that there are two distinct paths toward spiritual and soul development.
“One – a more familiar and traditional path – is a path of ascension – where the spiritual seeker ultimately seeks unity with the supreme godhead. It’s a search upward, mystical in nature with the seeker questing for spiritual enlightenment. It’s a very legitimate path supported and journeyed by many a mystic the world traditions over.
You have a unique ecological role, the way you are meant to serve and nurture the web of life, directly or through your role in society….for each person there is one place in the natural world where he most belongs, a place that’s a part of him and where he is a part of that place.
In finding that place, he also finds his true self….
Your soul is both of you and of the world….Your soul corresponds to a niche, a distinctive place in nature,, like a vibrant space of shimmering potential waiting to be discovered, claimed….occupied. Your soul is in and of the world, like a whirlpool in a river, a wave in the ocean, or a branch of flame in a fire….
For inspiration and vision, we, too, must learn to search outside the customary world of the village, to wander again in the inner and outer wilderness.3Bill Plotkin, Soulcraft
“Plotkin posits, however, that there is an equal and valid journey – a journey of descent, deep into our individual soul. This journey is supported by a relationship with the Earth and its mysteries. In my reading of Plotkin, I feel it is very similar in scope to Fujimura’s God as ultimate Maker. Plotkin, however, posits that the gift being revealed to us is of the Earth itself – the gift comes from nature. Earth is communing with us. It’s telling us how to live, work, move, act, create with a message for us – it’s inhabitants. If we can tune into the message from the natural world as Earth’s tools of communicating this message – we will be able to aid the Earth and it’s inhabitants in true healing and into living into our potential to be in full, whole humanity with one another.
“In Plotkin’s work, the seeker opens himself/herself up to soul initiation in order to receive this message returning from the journey with a gift to be communicated to humanity from the Earth itself.”
Our souls, after all, are elements of Earth’s soul. Like poets, we begin to detect in the patterns of the wild our own capacities for courage, love, sacrifice, desire, faith, belonging – all the possibilities of our own humanness in their primary and most vital forms. Eventually, we might detect, for the first time, our individual soul story or our ultimate place in the world.4Bill Plotkin., Nature and the Human Soul
“Wow…that’s pretty deep stuff to absorb…” says the Night Walker. “It sounds like you’ve had quite a year and a lot to think about.”
“Yeah…and if I examine the totality of my life’s history in these contexts…
I am receiving messages, as well as a calling:
You have an investigation to undergo.
You have a journey to travel.
You are an artist – let’s do some art together.
There’s a gift for you to give to the world.
I’m helping you find your niche.
I’m transmitting stories to you 24/7.
I have a message for you to share with your people.
“I could ignore it. But I feel if I do so…I’ll be missing out on something big.
“Something possibly life-changing lies out there. Something that has to do with the direction of my life’s work. Something that may help humanity overcome the divides that separate us and keep us from living in full humanity with one another.
“You know, Night Walker” I say after a moment of silence. “Fujimura, goes on in Art and Faith to talk about the artist as border stalker.”
“What’s a border-stalker?” She/he asks.
“Someone who lives in between – meandering through culture and thought patterns.” I say.
As border-stalkers, artists are often found at the margins of society, meandering into the borders of established thought patterns….These border-stalking voices are essential [for mending] the broken futures of our culture and helps all to listen to the voice of the spirit.
Border stalkers have the ability to learn and communicate extratribal languages, and they can transcend tribal norms. It’s important for them to see that they often find themselves alone….the borderlands are also dangerous places….But the border stalkers are increasingly valued in cultures that are polarized and have created false dichotomies, as these artists can help to mediate the divided realities and bring the wholeness of the gospel message.5~Makoto Fujimura, Art and Faith
“I look at this border stalker as someone who’s an outlier, or maybe someone living in exile. Someone who doesn’t have a place at the table where the conversations about truth and justice and mercy are happening. Someone who lives in the streets preaching as the prophets of old or public theologians of today.
“I admit to you, my friend. It’s a scary place to be. It’s a lonely place. It may be a sacred honor, a sacred privilege…but what if in the delivery of the gift, I’m simply deemed crazy, a nut job, someone taking too many drugs, or maybe even under the influence of demons? What then?
“Is that my future?” I continue. “I didn’t ask for this, did I? If I did indeed dance with the Trickster on a hilltop in Wyoming, and asked to be set free – how is this journey, this calling I’m seeming to answer anywhere near to being free?
“I’m indeed the author of the stories I will be telling in the near future. But these stories are being told to me, and moving through me. I’m in the story. I’m writing the story. The story is of me, and my history – but there are elements of my story that I couldn’t make up within my imagination. And the words and stories are coming so fast, so furiously – I can’t keep up between the stories and getting them into my computer and out on my blog.
The Night Walker offers advice…
The Night Walker stops on the bridge and grabs my shoulder. “You turn to me…” she/he says, gazing into my eyes. “Me…I who am neither real or unreal – I myself am simply a subject of art created in the mind of my artist, my creator. I am a construct of imagination. You seek in me answers that I cannot give.
“Any answers I have for you are simply floating below this bridge – they are in the expansiveness we are standing over. Any wisdom you seek from me…you need to look over the railing here – that’s where you’ll find it.”
“Yes, but…” I start.
“Let me continue…” He/She says, looking at me sternly, “my advice…just keep gazing into the expansiveness. Tell your stories, share your tales. When people get confused, send them this chapter to read, re-read. Help them to absorb what you are saying here. And do not get too worked up when someone doesn’t understand. Just carry on, my wayward friend, just carry on.”
“I have to laugh, though…” I say. “I have a friend who wants to meet the Wild One. What do I do with that? Write a real, live person into my story?”
“If the person give consent, why not? What’s the harm? Isn’t the whole idea of Divine Imagination just that – a way to examine the human existence and the human condition through the stories that we tell and the stories we listen to about the Divine experience?”
“Yes…but how do I know that this isn’t some kind of grandiose vanity project?”
“How do we know anything? We experiment and then we step back and assess. What’s your motivation? Will your storytelling hurt anyone? Just proceed and see what happens…you can go slow, take your time, and be open and honest with those around you. Don’t worry yet about the end result.” He/She says.
“May I ask, my sister? What is the name of the tale you tell?”
“It’s called Divine Trickery: A New Story of an Old God for a Broken World. This is Chapter 2.”
“I like it. I can’t wait to read more. You recently had a deep lesson on fearlessness and being bold, is that right?” She/He asks.
“Yes, my friend.”
“Then continue on – let that boldness take you to new heights. Be audacious. Be tenacious. Write and create with clarity, charity, and simply be open to a love that surpasses all you understand about love.”
We stop in the middle of the bridge and look around the expansiveness.
“It’s all pretty vast,” I say at last.
“Yes it is…”
“So many stories to tell…”
“Yes, I imagine so…”
Coming soon- Stay tuned:
Chapter 3 – A Night Out With the Wild One…
Chapter 4 – “There are rules, then there are RULES!”
Chapter 4 – An Argument with Divine Consequences…
Chapter 5 – A Mystery – even from the author….
Will you, dear reader, continue to journey on with me?
The author would like to thank Bradley Tyler Wilson, for his continued support and his artistic contribution to this chapter. To check out Bradley’s art – visit his art gallery and/or Etsy page:
I also want to thank two fellow travelers – Art R. and Artem S. – thank you for letting me talk about going “meta” and this crazy projectl.
I also offer my profound gratitude to Stephanie T., my collaboration and conversation and business partner. Here’s to “keeping the Conscious Conversation real.”
And last, but not least, you my faithful readers. Continue to ask me the challenging questions, even if I don’t really want to answer them.
Sources for Chapter 2:
1Fujimura, Makusa, Art and Faith: A Theology of Making, (2020), p. 11
2Fujimura, Makusa, Art and Faith: A Theology of Making, (2020), p. 14
3Plotkin, Bill, Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche, (2003), p. 41-42
4Plotkin, Bill, Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World, (2008), p. 278
5 Fujimura, Makusa, Art and Faith: A Theology of Making, (2020) p. 46