It was Christmas Eve, and we were watching the carol service from King's College Chapel, Cambridge (UK). I have lost count of the number of times I have watched this service over the years. Often, I watch with delight, but sometimes out of a sense of duty that I cannot explain. This year the experience was altogether different. It was as if, because of my loss of hearing perhaps (some 30 - 40% has gone), a third eye had opened and I was beginning to 'see' in a new way. Then, on Christmas Day, we once again followed our tradition of listening to the "Messiah." All that I had felt the day before began to wash over me again. If, in the past, I had barely scratched the surface of Christianity (see " L'Abbaye de Boquen ", posted 27.4.2013), now a new experience and understanding was beginning to emerge from the darkness that had obscured it for too many years.
It is difficult to find appropriate words to describe this sense of enlightening, or indeed to know the depth, breadth and height of the experience. Certainly, the experience was very complex, the details of which I have barely begun to understand. Yet I feel that, even if I have misunderstood, even if my words are inadequate for the task I have set myself here, I must at least make some attempt to describe what I 'saw'. It was as if a great light was shining inside me, so brightly that even I could not fail to see how woefully inadequate my assumptions about Christianity have been. What I 'saw' was one of the greatest myths of all times, wonderful in its splendour, yet flawed.
Before going on, let me say that when I use the word myth, I am not using it as it all too often is used nowadays as a synonym for a lie, a falsehood. A myth, as used here, is a story that embodies truth and which is told in a fashion that can be understood by anyone at a superficial level. The truth may well remain hidden until one has experienced that truth, but the myth points the way. A myth does not attempt to deceive, but to preserve a truth.
In the West we are fortunate in having a great heritage of music and drama which has been put to the service of Christianity. This has helped to construct a mythological edifice of great power that is at the very heart and soul of our culture. But why is this religion so powerful? Why does it seem at times to be all things to all men? Perhaps it is because it tells the story, in symbolic form, of humanity's deepest fears, highest aspirations, its needs and yearnings, its desire to come home to the only home that really matters to sentient creatures. Perhaps it is because it speaks directly to the psychological soul of humanity. All this is projected through the life of one man, Jesus the Christ. The Jesus of the New Testament may well be different from the Nazarene who walked the Earth two millennia ago, but that man, flawed as am I, lived and taught then. Now there exists a mythological system about someone who may represent the psychological solution to all my ills, uncertainties, doubts, searchings and much much more.
If the myth is flawed, it is because I am flawed. And that is why it is so powerful. A perfect man, a perfect Son of God, was never any use to me, because I am not perfect, whatever perfection means. He could never have been a role model, and that is why he has nothing to teach me; his way is not my way. Only through the experience of Truth will I ever be able to approach this Great Myth and say that, finally I understand. Only then will I be able to say that I have more than scratched the surface, that I have laid bare the Truth.