Posts by: Maryellen May, Transparent Works

Knowing the Unknowable

"Is it possible to know the Unknowable

Why bother

Is it possible for me personally to know the Unknowable

Why bother

Is it possible for me to personally know and nurture a consciousrelationship with the Unknowable Ultimate Reality

Why bother"

- Amanda Storywarrior


For the past couple of years, my grandparents and I have met forlunch just about every other week. I bring falafel sandwichesfrom a local restaurant, complete with ali geffen and baklava. Shirley and I stuff our faces and utter plenty of mmmms whileWendell talks as much as he likes. We all cherish both thefalafels and our special date.

One of the gifts of these lunches is that my grandparents alwaysask about my work. I am a videographer and provide the videoyou see on this website. But often, I do not understand how todo the work I am assigned to do! My grandparents have been a sounding board for me as I process the stories I get toillustrate. It is still unbelievable to me that I can ask them aboutthis stuff - and they get it. Because they lived it!

My grandparents attended a series of lectures in the early 1960sat the Ecumenical Institute of Chicago. The messages were soawakening, so earth shattering, that they picked up their family ofthree children and moved from their safe suburban life into theSouth Side ghetto of Chicago. And they werent alone!Hundreds of others made similar radical lifestyle choices as aresult of this encounter. Families and individuals moved-intogether so that they could continue to do the work of the OrderEcumenical and explore what it meant to know the unknowable.

The latest video assignment I was given, Life Journey #2- TheUltimate Reality, is a re-statement of a lecture called TheQuestion of God as well as The Bultmann Paper seminar. Wendell and Shirley St. John attended these original lectures. They have now been instrumental in the rebirth of thesestatements in visual form by serving as special advisors.

I often wonder about the question that Amanda Storywarriorposes above, Why bother

The Life Journey series is a personal journey. It is an invitationto YOU and to ME to go on a personal journey. It will shake upyour insides, thats the point. Just as Wendell and Shirley andso many others were shaken up by this message in the 60s, thisvideo series seeks to provide that same JOLT!

Theres a hole in our societal institutions when it comes totalking about, relating to and knowing the unknowable. In thismoment in history, it is far too easy to ignore, deny, escape andavoid the unknowable. No ones talking about the elephant inthe room or teaching us how to relate to it. Our schools, ourinstitutions, our parents, teachers, ministers and mentors arentdoing it because they dont know how. The call to mystery hasbeen convoluted with human-centered moralism, sentimentalism and literalism. The call to know the unknowable has beenambushed by gimmicks and self-help feel-good happy horsedoodoo.

Ive been looking my entire lifeand everything has fallenshort - but not this. Imagine my surprise after going on a questto know the unknowable, when I found the path had been laidbefore my feet. The journey was taken by my own kin beforeme, when they made the choice to explore what it meant to knowthe unknowable in their lives.

Life Journey #2 The Ultimate Reality is ready to engage. Over the next 6 weeks you will receive email notifications invitingyou to encounter each of the final six modules of The UltimateReality exploring the practice of Knowing the Unknowable.

Pope Francis has invited you and me toconsider approaching the world in the contemplative posture of ThomasMerton. As we attempt to find our way on this time between the myths,personally and collectively, this posture represents a transformative optionfor the human family. The challenges of the environment, local and globalpolitics and economics, cultural conflict, military struggle, world hunger,disease, human trafficking, immigration and 1000 other issues will only beresolved as, solitary by solitary, the human family reestablishes itsconnection with the Deep Place, the wellspring of all authentic truth, peace,and hope.

We believe Life Journey #2 The Ultimate Reality provides a contemporaryart form by which the human family can nurture this vitalconnection.

Why bother Why take a journey to personally know and nurturea conscious relationship with the Unknowable Ultimate Reality

That's a question each of us gets to pose for ourselves.

We invite you to ask the question, and see what shakes up inyour world!

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Everyday Profundity

Theres a piece of motherhood that I still cant get my head around. Its the universal nature of birth that women who have given birth have encountered the same awesome experience over and over again. They experience the complete transformation of their bodies, feel their babies moving inside, experience the anxieties, hormones, cravings, surprises and pains that accompany the most intense moment of their lives that is sure to change EVERYTHING. Its completely personal, its different for every woman, and yet its shared. We all enter the world in the same way. It has been accomplished by women since the beginning of our species and continues again and again every day. This one totally personal experience, that rocked my world and changed my life, is an experience that is repeated nearly 340,500 times every day worldwide. I am awed by the completely unique experience of each woman, juxtaposed by the completely ordinary nature of birth.

Then theres life after my baby Augustine entered the world. I waited with bated breath to meet him, for that first moment of contact when I held him and called him by name. To say it out loud that I was his mother and I loved him more than anything. It was an awesome moment, but to my delight, I feel that same overwhelming love each time I look at him. I cant believe what a gift it is to be a mother. This connection to my baby is unlike any I have ever experienced. I wake up moments before he does in order to be ready to feed him. I dream about him while I sleep. If I think about him or hear him cry it sends those milk glands into full production. If he is upset all I have to do is pick him up and my voice and smell calm him down. We were tied together during pregnancy, and the tie does not end on the outside.

Again it leads to paradox. How can it be that 340,500 women experience this every day, as well as so many of the women in my life, and were not running around talking about it to anyone who will listen It just seems so everyday, so run of the mill. I look at families now and think, how do they have 4 of them I wonder, how it is that women do this all the time How is something so awesome and so life altering, also so ordinary

Having baby and becoming a new parent might be an everyday occurrence, but theres nothing ordinary about it. Birth and motherhood have opened up a whole new appreciation for the profound nature of my everyday experience. I noticed this immediately when I felt a sense of joy and complete awe while changing Augustines diaper. It was one of those occasions where in the middle of changing the diaper, he pooped again. And again. And oh yes, oops he did it again. All I could do was laugh. It was awesome! When these amazing everyday wonders occur with Augustine I feel a deep, deep love and completeness. The everyday tasks of feeding, cleaning and soothing my baby have become a profoundly fulfilling and wondrous way to spend the day. My days are quite ordinary, and yet totally extraordinary.

Of course I have struggled constantly with re-defining myself now that my sole purpose is to nurture my baby. I remember realizing, Wow, I am so lame! I cant seem to do anything else besides care for this kid! The house looks like hell, Im dirty and hungry, I cant seem to respond to phone calls or emails or take the dog for a walk. And theres no way I can exercise, or go on a date with my husband or hang out with friends tonight. I am so completely incapacitated and overwhelmed by the needs of my baby!

What happened to that dedicated, driven, career woman I used to be Or that foot-loose and fancy-free spirited girl who did whatever she wanted whenever she wanted Now I am completely tied. A shift has occurred that cannot be undone or ignored. It is a fundamental change in my psyche, my body, my entire concept of me. Ive thrown it out for a new one. I still have a career that I love, I still acknowledge my need to be free, but first and foremost I am a mother to Augustine. At first I was so confused by this change that I had not anticipated. I felt like I had stepped into the twilight zone, wondering, did someone forget to tell me it was going to be like this I also felt that my contribution to the world as a new mother was not valuable. I wasnt doing anything super important. My ability to care for my baby was not going to change the world, stop war, end hunger, or help others to realize their dreams. All I could do was sit and nurse my baby, change his diaper, and soothe him back to sleep - over and over again.

Yet, raising a child with love and attention is a world-changing event. I gotta believe that when children are raised with affection, belonging, nurture, good food and lots and lots of laughter the world will be a better place.

I love talking with women and hearing about their experiences of motherhood, Ive learned that this is also a life transforming experience for them. Bloomington Area Birth Services is the one place I have found where everyone IS running around recognizing and celebrating this amazing experience. I am truly grateful for their work and presence. BABS has totally enhanced my experience of childbirth and motherhood.

I am learning how to be in tune with Augustine, communicating with him on his level to keep him happy and nurtured. Its an unfolding process that changes every day. Sometimes its very, very trying, but its always wonderful and Im aware that this is the most important work I do. Im observing how it has changed and is changing me, and how its invited me to be more present in my life and more awake to the awesomeness that is my every day experience.

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