Saint Catherine of Alexandria
Master of the statues of Koudewater,
s'Hertogenbosch, circa 1480
Appreciation comes from a Latin root meaning to estimate the quality of a thing; that is, to value it.
We generally use our minds to evaluate, forgetting that our sensation and emotion are in fact essential evaluative tools, ones that function very differently than intellect. Intellectual action can only lead to intellectual appreciation; but because value and meaning arise in all three realms (sensory, intellectual and emotive) the appreciative organs of only one function are by default unable to form a full picture of reality. We form, instead a partial—hence illusory—one. The word illusion is entirely apt here since it means, in its essence, misleading; and of course partial understanding is misleading, since it presumes in its partiality that it knows everything through itself.
Illusion is partial; one-centered Being attempts to know everything through itself. It doesn't come into relationship, which is absolutely necessary in order to gain a full picture of reality. Yet because every act of perception seems—I must stress that word, seems—complete in and unto itself, there arises with it a conviction of completion: a conviction that is, furthermore, all but absolute.
Into this breach steps attentive consciousness, that is, a faculty that has enough critical capacity to evaluate this action and question it. I learn, in an inner work, to question through seeing my failure to enter relationship.
Yet this working, as it's called, simply serves as a way of reminding myself that my Being is partial; in remembering Self, this is all I can remember (re-assemble): that I am partial.
It takes the inflow, the action of the higher energy, to reunite. That is the moment when illusion drops away; my own misleading is replaced by a leading from a higher level which does not mislead, for it knows the way.
Those touched by such an understanding know, like a hedgehog, one big thing; for myself, I cannot know the way. The higher knows the way; and in this above all I must learn, eventually, to trust, whether or not I am bereft of Grace, which condition is so often necessary in order to turn me back toward God.
I would like to stress again to myself that absolutely no amount of intellectual knowledge, of book learning, or rationalization, can produce this knowing and this turning. The inflow alone produces it; then, this intellectaul appreciation is augmented by sensing appreciation and feeling appreciation, and my posturing- which is all I have in the midst of my own misleading- drops away naturally. There is no need or purpose for it, in real knowing; I see that my inner mask is a useless appendage, part of what prevents the vessel from receiving.