What is being Born Again?

Can you see a color when someone talks? If not, if what I am going to say happened to you, it could make you see red:

A couple invited some people to dinner. At the table, the wife turned to their 6-year-old daughter and said, “Would you like to say the blessing?”

“I wouldn’t know what to say,” she replied.

“Just say what you hear Mommy say,” the mother said.

The little girl bowed her head and said: “Dear Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?”

Abracadabra: We are all familiar with this stage magic formula. It came from Aramaic: ibra means “I have created” and k’dibra which means “through my speech”, i.e., I have created through my speech. We are fascinated by magic and the formula that does it. For we want to change everything to the way we like them to be.

There is a great mystery that is hidden in everyone of us. There are some mysterious experiences and people we have among and within us. We, some of us, at least had some mysterious and interesting past that are known only to us and may be a few others. I have found quite a lot of people who are interested in mystery books and mystery movies and CSIs. There is some sort of fascination with things that are intriguing, but remains a mystery, that we may solve them.

For all who wants to know how to solve a mystery, I have a solution. I will lay it out slowly here.

We all speak different languages and different slang and styles in communication. There is not one single person who speaks the same language as the other. Is there? Tell me that you understand everything the other is saying. We communicate who we are deeper than how we speak and what we speak. It is in the up and down tone, the softness of how we say it and host of other things. The tonal quality determines what exactly is said and understood or not understood. That means many times what is said is more than or less than what is heard by the other.

Jesus is talking about wind and Nicodemus is talking about prophecies. They are like a creationist and a paleontologist comparing notes on fossils–they simply can’t fathom each other. Their organizing assumptions are too different.[1] And so Jesus changes the language a little bit and Nicodemus sharpens his listening. They are adjusting to each other. Somebody is being born again in the process.

Jesus is talking about being born again. Nobody knows what happened at the end. However the next time, after Nicodemus showed enough patience to listen, Nicodemus becomes a little more soft on Jesus and defends him when the time came for it, and finally of course you know the story of him going to the Cross to anoint the body of Jesus before burial. Nicodemus has traveled a long way to create a relationship, a friendship that surpassed all kinds of fears. How did he do that? What happened there and beyond?

Today we celebrate the feast of Holy Trinity, the blessed of all friendships, relationships and communities. That is what ultimately Jesus, Apostles and Nicodemus became: a community of loving people who understood beyond the restrictions of words, that removed fears of all kinds.

The only and the best way to communicate is to learn about augmented seeing and hearing. What is this augmented seeing and hearing? That is what I want to call Synesthesia Spirituality. Who is a Synesthete? Synesthesia is a condition that affects about 1 in 25,000 persons. Synesthetes tend to see sounds, smell colors and taste shapes. When a Synesthete hears the sound of a truck backing up, making a beep-beep-beep sound, he or she might see the beeps as a series of red dots. Circles smell different from squares, and sour foods sound different from sweet foods. All to say that they see beyond what we see.

When you see, you are able to hear and when you hear, you are able to see, would mean that we are able to see more than what someone is trying to say through some words. This might gives us a better perception about the world around us. Many are artists, poets and writers who are able to put together different unconnected domains together to bring about a collage of realities. This is what Spirituality is all about. This is what I call Synesthesia Spirituality. These people can travel beyond the boundaries of a word and color into the hidden meaning of life and experience.

We need a mind and a heart to understand deeper than what people are trying to tell us in this many times unconnected, disoriented and fragile world we live in. Many concepts we hear are those that come from the brokenness of families, poverty, lack of love and relationships. People all over the world are longing, deep within themselves, for a place to belong to, and a people to call their community.

So, in today’s world, celebrating the feast of the Trinity is meaningful and right. Because all that happened, all that was created and all that will ever exist happened in the community of God, and in the process of conversation: The Word Was God. The father, the son and the Holy Spirit, communicated with each other beyond what our human senses can understand. Their perfection was in knowing, understanding and accepting the other.

The concept of Trinity is in the unity of purpose and result, rather than similarity. We become a Trinitarian community by engaging in Synesthetic listening; a unified purpose that advances the kingdom of God and a result, that creates communities around us.

That sounded too complicated. It simply would mean, someone who can hear more, when he or she listens better; see deeper, when he looks intentionally; and understand greater as she grasp, are those who are Synesthetic. Let me simplify it again. Someone who will show patience, to let things evolve in personal lives, families and particularly churches, allow the syllables speak more than they sound, will make communities come alive. Trinity will become real again.

This is how faith is created. It is not in the knowledge of what we know about God; it is this deep knowing of what God knows about us. The comfort of faith is not what we know about God. But knowing what God knows about us and still let us be who we are.

To be born again, a call to Nicodemus, the Synethesia Spirituality, is moving from old being to a new living. It is the abracadabra movement in life whereby we have created a new being of ourselves, our environment, our world and our church into understanding each other beyond the boundaries of languages and differences, and finding a purpose together.

It is a very transformational process. It is no more being content with what we were, but constantly seeking to change and attune ourselves to the sound, behind the voice of the other and the emerging face of Christ through it all. This is what is being born again means. We are to be born again. Our old way of being needs to be changed by a new way of living, not just existing.

Remember, the wind uproots us and transplants us and it blows where it wills and all will be changed, including the meaning of words that constrains the understanding of even God. Be born again is seeing and hearing, being and living deeper than we are allowed by our limited world.

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