Experience The Miracle

From the archives: Pidgeon Pier. This painting is about paying attention

From the archives: Pidgeon Pier. This painting is about paying attention

“It has become my view–my faith–that all elements of nature have that power to produce peace. It is surely why so many are drawn away from their urban lives and back to natural places. But those places need not be grand scenic vistas. The same peace can be found in the dandelion growing in the nearest vacant city lot.

It is, in the end, a choice either to “shut up and listen” to these sources of strength–no matter how great or humble or where we encounter them–or to hurry on by.”

~Master Jim Marsh in a comment about my post, Sit By The River

There was a cool breeze off the lake this morning that slowed the mounting humidity. We were a mile into our usual morning walk, rounding the path to the rocky lakeshore, when we entered the storm of dragonflies. There were hundreds of them, hovering just above our heads, occupying a narrow band that stretched as far as the eye could see!

I gasped and stopped! Never in my life had I seen so many dragonflies. Kerri said, “They come out when the weather has been hot and without rain.” Before continuing on our way, we stood for a few moments appreciating the hovering, the methodical zigging-and-zagging. Until our path deviated from the coast, they were with us, green and purple spirits, riding the air-line where earth meets water. For me it was pure magic.

Many years ago, as a way of ending our relationship, a woman told me that it was too hard to be with a mystic. I’d never before (or since) thought of myself as a mystic so I looked it up to make sure I understood why a mystic might not be easy to live with:

Mystic (noun): a follower of mysticism.
Mysticism (noun):
1. Belief in intuitive spiritual revelation,
2. Spiritual system,
3. Confused and vague ideas.

I laughed aloud when I read the three definitions of mysticism; the third definition applied to the previous two! I left my dictionary with two beliefs:

  1. All human beings are mystics if they simply slow down and pay attention. There’s no trick to it. And, that was certainly the problem in my relationship: I have always liked walking slowly in a world drunk on racing to the next big thing. That is hard to live with!
  2. The line between a spiritual revelation, a cathartic experience, a scientific eureka, or an artistic visit from the muse, seems to me, to be semantic. In our age of the intellect we generally run from the word intuition unless we apply a label like “gut instinct” (transforming a feminine energy to a masculine gut) or “I just knew it!” (transforming the scary clarity of an intuitive feeling into a safe clarity of an intellectual experience). It’s all wordplay.

Hearts know. Thoughts babble. And the only way to sort it all out is to stand still, stop the babbling, and see the miracle.

Tell The Story

"...and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes..." e.e. cummings

“…and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes…” e.e. cummings

Three hundred and sixty six days ago I met Kerri. What I thought was going to be a casual meeting, the beginning of a new friendship, was much more than I anticipated though I didn’t really understand the scope and depth of our relationship until three hundred and sixty five days ago. On that day, exactly one year ago, I went with her to experience a Taize service. Taize is a meditation service and she was guiding the music. I sat with her during the Taize and, in a single moment, on a specific word of the Lord’s Prayer, we had an experience so potent, so mystical that a year later I still am unable to explain or comprehend it. Our lives changed in an instant. The moment was so powerful that we sat in the church for hours after the service. We couldn’t move. We couldn’t leave that space.

Yesterday, we both cleared our calendars and spent the day telling the story of our year. Our telling was not for reminiscence. It was not like a new year’s review of things past. It was not a measure of how far we’d come. It was elemental. It was the kind of telling that communities used to tell when they renewed themselves. It was the kind of telling people used to do to define themselves. It was story as a sacramental act. We visited the fire and the transformation, the earth and the necessity of rooting, the water and the miracle of flow, and the wind of inspiration and ancestry. We generated by regeneration.

So, I offer this as an exercise: give yourself a gift, take some time, and tell the story of everything you experienced on this earth, in this life, over the past three hundred and sixty five days. Visit the awe, the disappointment, the hurt, the joy, the boredom, the loss, the discovery, the exhaustion, the wonder, and anything else that affirms your life as unique and gorgeous. No one else walked the path you walked. No one else can or will walk the path you walk. See it. You’ll be amazed.

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