“A Glass Can Only Spill What It Contains,” Reflections On

These are my inspired thoughts on the lyrics and song, “A Glass Can Only Spill What It Contains” by mewithoutYou. They are not the official, or the band’s commentary on the piece.

A cat came drifting
On my porch from the outside cold
And with eyes closed, drinking
Warm milk from my bowl

“Nobody hears me, nobody hears me!
As I crept in so soft!
And nobody sees me, nobody sees me!”
…as I watch six steps off.

I am the cat. I don’t live in my own world. I live in a reality-community, in which an innumerable number of persons and dynamics take care of me, and make me who I am, but my ignorance tells me that I am alone, a lone individual, and that my life is ultimately my own… but it’s not.

This reality-community is very, very connected to, if not one with, what some would call G-d. G-d takes care of me. G-d provides for me. I am not alone. There is no way to be alone. “Alone” does not exist. Alone is not real.

Like the peacocks wandering the walkways of the zoo
Who have twice the autonomy the giraffes and tigers do

“No one can stop me, no one stop me!
No one clips my claws.
Now everyone watch me, everyone watch me
Scale these outside walls.”

I compare and contrast myself to others. I look for what sets me apart. What makes me special. Unique. Perhaps, for what makes me worthy of love, acceptance and attention. All of my gifts and inherent talents, I don’t see them as gifts, as presents, but as my identity. I tell myself, “As long as I am not that or them, then I will be okay. I will be safe. My existence and presence in this world will be justified.”

No matter what I accomplish, no matter what I do, my finite actions and completions frightfully pale in comparison to the Infinite Ocean, who is manifesting Herself in my drop of a self. I fearfully hold on to one aspect of myself, the side I see and deem to be good. I am deluded, “knowing” and believing that this portion of me is more than it is, when really, without trying, I was born as everything I want to be, and so are the giraffes and the tigers, so are my friends and my enemies. We’re all just animals in the zoo. We’re all in the zoo. We’re all… animals. Don’t you see?

Oh, you pious and profane,
Put away your praise and blame.
A glass can only spill what it contains.
To the perpetually plain and the incurably inane:
A glass can only spill what it contains.

Both the pastor and the atheist are speaking of what they know not. How can a cat or a peacock understand the dynamics and complexities of humans? How can the finite know the infinite? How can not-G-d talk about G-d?

What new mystery is this?
What blessed backwardness?
The Immeasurable one is held and does not resist!
Struck by wicked words and foolish fists of senseless men
The Almighty One does not defend!

Infinity stays ineffable, indescribable, non-understandable. Its “number” can’t be reached. She has no center and no edge, yet She isn’t absent, but She also isn’t present. She doesn’t crave or fight to be understood by our creaturely logic or intellect. She only allows the “knowing” of Love.

I’m halfway listening to what she thinks she knows.
We’re like children dressing in our parents clothes

“Nobody knows me, nobody knows me.
No one knows my name!
Nobody knows me, nobody knows me.
Nobody knows me…”

I don’t see or know G-d, but She sees me with full clarity. I think I’m alone. No one sees me. No one knows me. No one loves me. No one likes me. My “individuality” tells me that I have shadows and dark spots hiding me from Love, separating me from Light. My shame tells me that I am not in the Royal Palace, because I don’t have that value, but G-d has me in Her heart, in Her love, in Her embrace. The Light shines in the darkness, even if the darkness is blind to its own Light.

I half-heartedly explained,
But gave up peacefully ashamed.
A glass can only spill what it contains.
We went through Portugal and Spain,
And in her mind the entire time it rained!
A glass can only spill what it contains.

Certainty is a safe place that has no safety. It’s a bomb shelter made of illusion. We find a sense of security in our knowing of G-d, like the above mentioned children dressed in their parents’ clothes, but as fourth century mystic, meditator and theologian, Gregory of Nyssa, teaches us, any conception we have of G-d has no Life in it, and that is why G-d told Moses, “No human can see me and live,” because whatever it is we think we see, we are wrong, and there is no Life in our weak projections and faulty explanations of the Divine.

God is invisible to our intelligence, so when we look for Her with our mental faculties, She seems to be hiding from us. Indeed, She can be a horrifying darkness, a scary film, and Hell on earth, to the human of right knowing that I want to be.

A glass can only spill what it contains…

I contain no certainty, or rather, it’s my human mind and perception that contains no absolute truth, or absolute essence, so how can I think that I can think my way to Life Herself?

What new mystery is this?
In overflowing emptiness
The invisible is seen among the shadows and the mist.
Before my doubting eyes,
The infinite appears and sighs.
The unquestionable is questioned
But makes no reply!

Paradox and “nonsense” is needed to jerk me out of my uniform and orderly mind. G-d is found in what my mind sees as blurriness and chaos. G-d is discovered in what seems to be nothingness, an absence that is full, and a darkness that is really just blinding light.

I find fulfillment in the thick of hunger. I experience everything I want, when I live in spiritual poverty and emptiness. I am first, only when I am last, and I am found, only when I am lost.

G-d isn’t realized in what is, but in what isn’t.

She is not speaking, and in Her silence, She graciously, abundantly, and extravagantly exposes Everything to me.

What new mystery is this?
My rabbi, my lips betray with a kiss!
What new mystery is this?

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