Expressions Of Identity

Our purpose is not to simply be, but to work together in the collective sense with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny. 

A tree gives grandeur to God by existing as a tree.  It is by being just a tree that it is observing Him.  It consents to His creative love.  This tree, it is an expression of an idea which is in God and which is not distinct from the essence of God.  It is by expressing itself as a tree that it imitates God.

The more a tree is like itself, the more it is like Him.  If it tried to be something else that it was never intended to be, it would be less like God, and therefore it would give Him less majesty.

There are no two created beings that carry exact likeness.  Individuality should not be considered imperfection.  On the contrary, the perfection of each created thing is not merely an adaptive style to its abstract type but in its own individual identity with itself.  This particular tree will give glory to God by spreading its roots far and wide, it will raise its limbs into the air and it will seek the light of life in a way that no other tree before it or after it will ever do.

Each particular being, in its individuality, in its distinct nature and being, with all its own features and reserved abilities and its own sacrosanct identity, gives grandeur to God by being precisely what He wants it to be here and now, in the circumstances designed by His Love and His endless Art.

The formulae and certain charismas of all living and cultivating things, of inanimate beings, of beasts and blossoms—in reality all nature—constitute their holiness in the vision of God.  Their inward landscape is purity in its simplest form. It is the blueprint of His wisdom and His existence in them.

The unique awkward beauty of this Shetland pony, floundering in the snow saturated dirt on this chilly last day of November under these swelling clouds is a holiness blessed by God to His own creative wisdom and the glory of His nature at work, it alone asserts the glory of God.

These yellowed pale wildflowers along the side of this path that I am walking as we speak, the ones that most hardly ever notice, they are saints in their own simple way, grasping for the grandeur of God.

This leaf in my hand has its own roughness and its own ascending fractal pattern of veins, which characterizes its own holy nature, the brook trout hiding in the depths of this river are canonized by their specific speckled beauty and their strength.

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This great, wounded, half-naked mountain that looms ahead of me is one of God’s most majestic works of art. There is no one thing like her.  She is her own character—nothing else in the world ever did or ever will imitate God in the same way.  That is her sanctity.

What about you?  What about me?

Unlike the animals, the trees, and all of these inanimate beings, it is not enough for us to be what our nature intends.  It is not enough for us to be individuals.  For us unfortunately, holiness means more than humanity.  If we are never anything but people, we will not be able to offer to God the worship of our imitation, which is sanctity.

It is considered a truth to say that for me sanctity consists in being myself and for you sanctity consists in being your self and that, in the last consideration, your sanctity will never be mine and mine will never be yours, except in the collectivism of charity and grace.

For me to be me means to be myself.  Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and of discovering my true self.  And I must be honest, the more I place my eyes upon His scripted garden, the more I pray, I am coming to discover who I was meant to be.  But it is true that I still must walk this path, and it is also correct that this path is a lifelong journey, but I take pleasure in the beauty that I see and the beauty of His will that awaits me.

Trees and animals do not latch on to the same problems as we do.  God makes them what they are without consulting them and they live in the perfection of satisfaction.

With us it is entirely different.  God leaves us to be whatever we like.  We can be ourselves or not, as we please.  We are at liberty to be real, or to be unreal.  We may be true, we may be false, and that choice is ours.

Throughout life we may wear many different masks, if we so desire, and never emerge from our own true identity.  But this is a choice that must not be made with impunity.  Causes carry effects, and if we lie to ourselves and to others, then we cannot expect to find the truth and its reality whenever we happen to want them.  If one chooses the way of falsity one must not come to be surprised when the truth eludes them when they come to need it.

Our purpose is not to simply be, but to work together in the collective sense with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny.  We are beings built from the freedom God so graciously gave us. By this I mean to say that we should not passively exist, but actively possess the awareness to participate in His creative freedom, in our own lives, and in the lives of others, by choosing the truth.

To say it even better, we are called to share with God the work of creating the truth of our existence in our true identity.  We often evade this responsibility by toying with masks, and this does please us because it appears at times to be a free and creative way of expressing life.  It is quite easy and it will seem to please everyone.  But in the long run, it may carry a cost and sorrow may saturate in the depths your soul.

We must work out our own identity in God, in which the Bible says as follows:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

Philippians 2 : 12

To find our own identity is a laborious task that requires sacrifice and anguish, risks and many tears. It demands close attention to reality at every moment, and great fidelity to God as He reveals Himself via obscurity, in the secrecy of each new situation.

There is no clear-cut path that lies ahead of me and it is not known beforehand what the result of this work may be.  The secret of my whole identity is hidden in You alone.  You will make me who I am, or rather who I will be when at last I fully begin to walk in Your presence.

But unless I desire my identity and work hard to find it with You, the work will never be done.  The way I must do it is a secret I can learn from no one else but You. There is no shortcut to this secret without faith in You.  But I now know that prayer is a precious gift that is never fleeting, and it alone has begun to enable me to see and begin to understand the work that You want done.

The seeds that this tree has planted in my liberty at every moment, by Your will, are the seeds of my identity, my reality, my happiness, and most important my sanctity.

To refuse them is to refuse everything; it is the refusal of my existence, of my own identity, of my very own self.   So I will not refuse them, instead I shall water them with Your will.

Yours truly—

Ryan Love


Be Wilderness

Above all else, guard your heart, for all that you do flows from it.

Proverbs 4 : 23

Over the last decade, I have had this intermittent dream.  This dream has sometimes haunted me but it has mainly kept my spirit fed.  It’s one of those dreams that feel very real in the midst of my slumber.  So real, that I wake up disoriented and it takes me a few moments to establish what is real and what is make-believe.  It was only until then, and now again, upon another rendition of this dream that I’ve started to claw at the surface of it’s significance with the hope that I can pin down the purpose of its meaning through intrinsic interpretation.  The dream always begins in the same exact setting.  My actions and decisions in the depths of the dream have always been the driving force as to which direction I take to reach my destination.  A destination that is still very much up in the air, because in the dream, I never reach it.  Not that I am aware of at least.  I would like to take some time now and share the dream with you.


I come to be awakened on a mountainous boulder.  I stand upon shaky knees balanced high above an extravagant raging river flowing furious with Old Man Winter’s runoff. The morning wasn’t breaking so much, as it was infiltrating through my blurred vision.  I am entrenched in some vast and splendid wilderness.  The only sound other than the deafening silence of loneliness is the symphony of an unhinged river’s rage.  My first thought, is whether or not the trout are biting?  Where’s my fly rod?  I look all around and see that it is nowhere to be found.  “Son of a bitch,” I mumble to myself.  My head floats on a swivel as I assess my surroundings.  There is a vague plume of smoldering grayish smoke about a football field’s length from where I stand.  I assume that it’s the remnants of last night’s warming fire, or maybe it’s a burning bush.

Campfire

I am captivated at the spectacular scenery that encompasses me.  It’s the most picturesque sight I’ve ever laid my eyes on.  The morning sun is awakening from its slumber and painting the mountains purple in their majesty.  As the golden hour washes over the craggy cliffs that tower over me to the north, I think to myself what a sight for eyes sore with solitude.  There is a chilled crispness to the air that is evident with every breath I exhale.  I shiver with the essence of something similar to seismic activity rippling through the core of me.  Could this be a celestial vibration that I am on the right path?  This tricks my mind into believing that a shroud of warmth will follow in the friction of my frivolous movement.  Which it does, but only for a waning moment.

Without an inkling of warning, the radiant brilliance of sunshine is swallowed by the looming threat of a surging storm.  The wind begins to carry a swiftness behind it that nudges my stability into a stumble.  In the sense of simultaneous, I reclaim my balance and I manage to reorganize the awareness of my environment.  My complacent moment of reflection is now superseded with a sudden urge to seek some place a bit more sheltered.  I succumb to the shivering sound of silence again.  I am cold and extremely parched from thirst.  I barely gather myself and plot my escape from this elevated pedestal of uncertainty.  The only way down is a slippery slope soaked in imprecision.

Fog

I start my descent down a trail I have no familiarity with whatsoever.  The brewing storm begins to serenade the uncharted wilderness with a booming, marching thunder—sprinkled with flickering bursts of magnificent light.  A steady mix of cold rain and snow beckons from above.  My walk moves into an opportunistic sprint.  I sense a hint of fear and become scared; unaware of the conditional circumstance that awaits my lack of carefulness.  I stumble again but this time balance escapes me and I fall.  As I fall, I try and let my limbs go limp.  I do this under the instinctual cognizance that external limbs are less likely to break or snap like twigs when not constricted with fear.  In focusing upon this my head introduces itself to the hardest substance it has ever felt and I fall unconscious.  After a few moments, I come around back to my senses.  By hook or by crook, I manage to pick myself back up.  My head is screaming with a sharpening discomfort that buries healthy pleasure with an unsettling pain.

In the depths of my agony, I realize that I clumsily yet successfully maneuvered my way down the mountain.  I stagger around for a moment and slowly digest that I have no idea where I was before, let alone now.   The smoldering smoke from before is now thick and heavy—its density has consumed every bit of clarity I had left about me.  I start traipsing through the fog; I have no sense of direction.  I feel like Vertigo is just sitting back, waiting to confuse the issue more than it already is.  I walk for what seems like an eternity, feeling like I will never reach a destination.  I think to myself, am I dead?  Could this be Purgatory?

Thirst is all I can think about, what I wouldn’t do for one sip of water.  My head is still screaming at me and the smell of some metallic tinge is following me like a wafting cloud.  The genesis of exhaustion steals my strength and I decide to take a breather.  I lay down with my burdens in hand, crossed upon my heart and I close my eyes.  Thirst and warmth fill my mind but even the comforts of home can’t keep the exhaustion at bay any longer, I fall asleep.  Even with all of the misfortunes that have graced the short-lived morning I sleep like a rock.

I am startled awake by the sound of a snarling animal.  Scared, scarred and shaken, I quickly stand up—dizzy.  Sudden fear enshrouds the wooziness in my head and I make sure my presence is noisily felt.  Adrenaline alone allows my equilibrium a chance to achieve even distribution.  I can see nothing in the fog, but the snarls are now more of an echo and seem further away than I originally thought.  I gather anything I can find that will help me defend myself, nothing more than a few sticks and stones.  “Hopefully they wouldn’t break my bones,” I whispered to myself as I collected them.  “At least my sense of humor was still going strong,” I thought proudly.  With a ginger demeanor, I walk in a brisk manner towards the opposite direction of the echoing snarls.  They seem to be growing closer the further I get from them.    In the shuffling madness, I catch my breath and I start to run again.  All of the sudden, the stability of solid ground was flooded by an icy soaked, but buoyant brook of excitability.

Hallelujah, it was water.  Miraculously, I had happened upon the river again.  In a baptismal elegance I fall to my knees, submerging my aching head into the rivers depth; my hands interlock themselves into a chalice.  The river is littered with glacial silt.    I remind myself to not let gluttony get the best of me.  I allow myself enough to quench the parched feeling that had hindered me throughout this shortened pilgrimage.  I am tempted to indulge until my heart’s delight, but I know that will only be detrimental to my well being down the road of this journey.  In my ecstatic behavior of blessedness, I neglected to notice the snarls were still very much on my tail.

The Perfect Swimming Hole

The denseness of the fog was lifting itself in a tedious manner and visibility was beginning to show itself again.  The only way to safety was through this river of Doubt.  I vaguely glance upon an echelon of rocks, strung together and placed conveniently for my stride.  I take the steps one by one, slow and steady wins the race, I thought.  I turn to look for whatever it was that has been trailing me since my fall.  In the faint distance, I can finally see what has been hunting me.  I see a wolf that looked to be plotting his next move, for he is as thirsty for blood, as I was for a drink of fresh water. I have a hunch that I haven’t seen the last of him.

I continue upon the stepping-stones with ease to my stride. The river grows mighty in its wake.  The farther I follow this path into the remote midst of this river, the more vibrant and sunny everything becomes.  The air has a warming touch to it now and I was gaining strength as clarity was becoming more constant.  The steps were starting to demand longer strides and I even had to wade in the water from time to time.  Then came the next challenge.

I was walking these stones for at least a mile and still no sign of the west bank of this river I have now dubbed Doubt.  Now here I stood on the last solid rock.  The glacial silt seemed to ablate itself from Doubt.  Roughly twenty feet below me was a budding stretch of backwater; followed by another pattern of rocks that perceived a promising path.  I carefully careen myself down the last slab of solidity that I could see.  I am knee deep in Doubt now, her waters, clear and chilly.  I drink from her until my heart’s delight.  I am amazed at the pulsating autumn hues that grace the forest around me.  The bursts of orange, yellow, and red—paint the landscape with a buffering beauty.  I shiver again from the soothing sensation of vibrational purpose, and wade with bewilderment.   The reverence I have for this wilderness is deep.  As deep as the river Doubt is about to get.

Up Close Waterfall

The pattern of rocks only got further away from one another as I waded towards them.  In my carefree comportment I didn’t notice that Doubt’s waters had risen with rapidness.  I began to panic, and as it grabbed my legs, well you know?  It pulled me in.  The icy and submerging blanket of water acted like shock therapy and triggers that everlasting instinct for survival.  I notice a large piece of driftwood floating with more poise than me and push my way towards it through the vicious current with every ounce of energy I have left.   As I am within arms reach of my saving grace I shiver again; followed by the most acute pain I have ever known.  The last thing I remember resembles the immersion of drowning.

I come to be revived on a pebbly beach.  I was spooning a piece of driftwood half my size as though it was a pillow.  My head is splitting with an ache but the air is steadily warm now, almost arid.  My damp clothes are the only thing between the luxury of warmth and me.  The river Doubt had turned into a creek that was now just a trickle of murky looking sludge.  The harsh reality sinks in that I have drifted far away from where I believe I belonged.  For the lush wilderness had become a barren desert.  I take off my top layer of clothing and lay them out to dry.  I canvas my newfound surroundings and see that there is only an inkling of shade beneath a ballooning bush of sagebrush.  This shade could only be used as shelter from the scorching sun for maybe two hours a day. I look behind me and see the monumental mountain reaching for Heaven above while nothing but sagebrush and high desert for the foreseeable future ahead of me.  Hunger pangs are making themselves known now.  I scrounge for something to eat.  I find nothing but a handful of ants.  I eat them and it is true, they are crunchy and sour.  I make a fool of the pangs by chewing on some sagebrush.   The sagebrush becomes a brief but nonetheless shaded shelter from a fierce sun and its cold-blooded heat.  I take off my shirt and use it as a pillow.  The shade summons me silently to sleep.

Vision

I wake up blistered from the scorching sun.  The sun was at its daily peak burning everything that lies in its wake.  Shade was nowhere to be found.  I put my shirt on and it feels like the incendiary ants I ate earlier as a snack are stinging me.  “Karma, is an instant bitch,” I scream silently.  The pain quickly becomes unbearable as it feels like I am being broiled.  I have no choice to go back into the wilderness, but first I had to climb the monumental mountain.  The mountain of eternity seemed to rumble with agreement as rocks start to tumble down the slopes with an awaiting earnestness.  The mountain was as massive as it was intimidating.  It interrupts the rolling desert plain with an abruptness that sprawls ten thousand plus feet into the horizon, almost out of midair it seemed.

I was more ready for this climb than I believed I was.  I start singing at the top of my lungs; maybe I was hoping for one last possibility that someone might hear me, or maybe I was just a bit stir crazy,  “Standing on a hill in my mountain of dreams, telling myself it’s not as hard, hard, hard as it seems.”  I try my best at impersonating Robert Plant but I am positive I do it no justice whatsoever—I imagine the Hammer of the Gods are laughing out loud at me.  As I expected, only silence followed, still I felt a little zanier yet confident than just a few minutes before.  At least my sun-drenched sanity was still sticking around for the time being.

Moondance

“Time to go.” The voice said as clear as the afternoon was. I spun around, spinning with bewilderment.  There was no one within a day’s walk of me.  Yet the voice was shrilling with a sense of comfort.  Maybe it was the stern approach that would not allow me to take the demanding tone lightly.  Without question, I started moving with fleetness.  I proceeded to blaze my own trail up the mountainous terrain.  I must’ve gotten my underrated second wind because I covered an extensive amount of ground, in a short period of time.

Just before dusk I had to slow to a steady pace to assess my situational circumstances.  The wilderness was becoming thick and the forest was filling itself out like a puzzling maze.  Humidity filled the air and night was beginning to fall.  The dew was beginning dampen the environment with a chill that stuck to my bones.  Though the colder air acted like aloe on my scorched skin, and I welcomed its comfort.  I slowed down but kept moving at a steady pace.  My path now carried more clarity with it than I had seen so far on this everlasting journey.  My motivation was bullying me into another exhaustive state but the adrenaline wouldn’t quit pumping through my blood.  I came to a sudden stop, when I thought I heard the snarls again.  It was nothing but an insect the size of my forearm, humming a sort of wilderness lullaby. But in the distance I heard the howling of a wolf, and instead of becoming frightened, I felt security wash over me, I was no longer the only living entity within this wilderness.

I stumble upon a path.  This is another sign that I am indeed headed in the right direction.  And as I come upon a fork in the path that heads in different directions—I become surprised with the pleasantry of a sign.  For a sign, signaled hope.  The sign shared the following morsel of wisdom.   Here lies the confluence of two, once mighty rivers.  One was called Soul, the other Ego.  One must choose between the paths wisely for there may not be another opportunity for you to find your way to the Promised Land in which you seek.  I kneel and pray, the voice answers with a vibrational pulse that echoes through my entire being.  I walk towards the merging trails.  I converge my steps between the both of them and I walk with purposeful intention through the valley of the shadow of death.  I begin to bushwhack my way through my metaphoric fear and leave it behind, where it belongs.

IMG_7889

I feel a few raindrops grace my presence and notice a mountainous thunderhead forming over my head.  I do not fear this storm because I know it is all in my mind.  But as the storm begins to drop golf ball sized hail upon my head, I pray for something to shelter me from the storm.  I walk brisk down the path and as I turn a corner, much to my delight there is an old outhouse.  I fall with exhausted grace into its storm-shielding demeanor.  I am content in the solitude of this ageless four-cornered Calvary.  And I see an inscription of scripture carved upon the wall.  And just below it was an insignia of biblical times.

Arrow

He made my mouth sharp like a sword; in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow; in his quiver he hid me away.

Isaiah 49 : 2

As I finish reading this profound scripture the walls around my head start to cave in, and I hear the shrieking laughter of a child.  Soon there followed the sweetest voice my ears have ever heard.

“Daddy, wake up.  Naptime is over.”

I scream startled waking from an afternoon snooze, dazed and confused.  He had dove  upon my chest.

Shaking with sudden comfort, he says to me, “Dad, what are we going to do now?”

“Save the world my child, at least for you, that’s what we are going to do.” saying with confidence.

“Okay, but first can we go to the river?” he asks.

“Of course we can kiddo, but after the rain stops,” I say much to his dismay.

The steady rain patters away on the roof, putting my mind at an ease it hasn’t felt in quite some time.  My vision is no longer blurred and I realize my purpose now.  The light flows from my heart to my mind will never be dimmed ever again.  It was time the dream turned to reality.

  -BeLove