These days when I am in the car by myself, I switch over the audio book CD from The Mark of Athena, which we listen to as a carpool on the way to and from school, to Tucker Malarkey’s Resurrection, an audio mystery book I got from the library book sale last summer. It’s an interesting slow-unraveling story about a young woman (post-WWII) who goes to settle the affairs of her archaeologist father in Egypt after his suspicious death. She discovers that he was working on finding and translating fragments of text from papyri found at Oxyrhynchus, and that someone is trying to stop the texts from becoming public. It’s entirely fiction, of course, except that it’s loosely based on some of the hype surrounding the mid-1940s discoveries of papyri fragments at Oxyrhynchus.
It makes me want to start looking again at some of the Gnostic texts and other gospels that were not included in the canon by the councils and church leaders by the time of the Synod of Hippo Regius in 393. The novel I am reading contends that the non-canonical gospels were actively suppressed, often violently, by church leaders who were threatened by the gnosticism of many of the texts. We have Elaine Pagels’ book on Thomas: Beyond Belief, and perhaps I will start there, as well as searching through the fascinating online Nag Hammadi Library.
Gnosis has always been one of my favorite words. It rings something inside me when I hear it. I remember that even before I really knew what it meant, I was drawn to its mystery. What are the layers beneath the stories I’ve heard all my life? What are the patterns and secrets that were kept so fiercely out of the text that we read today? Who were these early followers of Jesus? I think of gnosis as gut knowledge, bones knowledge, the kind of thing you know within yourself to be right and true.
Early gnostics believed that the physical world was to be transcended in favor of spiritual realities, a primary sticking point for me. Perhaps this is how some people reach their gnosis. I think the physical world is to be entered fully, experienced profoundly, relished deeply. For me, it’s about settling into the gut, the bones, the blood, seeking the way Spirit imbues matter, not the way it transcends it.
1. William Carlos Williams Moment: so much depends on a tangerine sun rising through blue into a violet magenta cloud. Suddenly all is cerulean and indigo and golden.
2. Heart Moment: Receiving an email from one of our graduates, asking several of us to pray for him as he prepares to deploy as a medic to the Syrian border. We have a bridge between us, despite my pacifism, and I am honored to be among those praying for his safety, praying that he may be a blessing to those he serves.
3. Comfort Moment: Sitting under a feather bed, reading a fantasy novel to my boy.
4. Moment of Depth: This quotation, by Alice Walker–“Poetry is the lifeblood of rebellion, revolution, and the raising of consciousness.”
5. Pleasure Moment: Shells with spinach and peas in a creamy cheesy sauce.
May we walk in Beauty!