The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.
We wake, if ever at all, to mystery.
In touching the Mystery, I see the Mystery is most often clothed in the ordinary. For many years, I sought special, extra-ordinary experiences of the Sacred. I went to apparently special, extra-ordinary places to find more of that Presence. My Prayer was a seeking for a remarkable epiphany of what we so easily called "God". The arduous search goes back into my early teen years. Now, I find I touch the Mystery - or better, I sense living in It's Presence surrounding me, everywhere. Such a paradox is the clarity of Love lives within my confusions, being found by Grace is within my lostness. Yet, this did not occur but over years of struggling to release the passionate seeking.
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I recall of prostrating, when a mid-teen, in the woods, pleading for a special experience with Grace, what I had been taught was "the baptism of the Holy Spirit". My church did not teach this as a special experience after what it referred to as "being saved". That "being saved" was not enough, no matter how powerful or beautiful it was, I wanted that something more my friends shared about with me. That baptism did not come that day in the woods, I walked out sad but determined to continue the search. What I lacked in insight, I seemed to make up in passion. Like many Buddhists who say, if we keep at it, after potentially millions of lifetimes, we will prove ourselves prepared for Nirvana, well, I wanted this baptism and in this one lifetime. I was as resolute as any Buddhist pursuing Nirvana or Hindu living for one thing, Moksha.
Now, looking back, I see the specialness of this Grace is that of the ordinariness in which we generally encounter It. Indeed, most often, it seems we miss the Sacred altogether; in our best moments we admit we need this connection, most often we repress the need on the way to do what we have been told is more important. Almost no one will say, "Stop, look, see,..." No, we are socialized to miss totally the Sacred, even if we pay lip service to the need. And, if this blessing is not here, then, where would it be?
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The passionate search, which serves a purpose for a time, can lead to a relaxing Calm and Gracefulness. See, likely no one lets go until he or she has worn out the search. No, we beat on the door of Mystery and, finally, exhaust the search. The door was never closed, we were, even in our trying to be open, receptive, and trusting. Again, this is all natural for us, neither good nor bad, for the passionate search serves a purpose - to wear down our egoic clinging for Grace, a clinging that keeps us contracted from the openness that allows Grace. This is like trying to see the Sun with eyes closed; when the eyes open effortlessly, the Sun, always and already present, is seen. Seeing happens, naturally.
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The search slowly dying, we may be surprised how this transforms us, so that we unconsciously share this intangible Grace with others. Recently, I was surprised by my landlord affirming to me how meaningful my presence was where I live ~ I live in an apartment, part of a business ~, and he said I brought calm to the place. I had not aimed to do this and generally go about my own way, rarely interacting. Yet, such is the way of Life. Grace communicates Itself most fully in Silence, it seems, and so teach the great wisdom teachers.
Hence, we can act in ways to nurture this sense of the Sacred, such as Prayer and Contemplation, but making ourselves available to Grace is not the same as ardently seeking It. I have been relieved to release the up-and-down experience of religious or spiritual intensity, and simply open to see and sense Life everywhere, through everyone and, yes, through myself. I have come to realize that the Prayerful Life is not about finding anything or anyone or any particular passing experience, no matter how beautiful and blissful, but seeing we already live by and within this Life, this Presence. I see, now, that I know myself as not apart from the Divine, but I am myself part of that knowing of the Sacred knowing me, and everyone, already. Yes, dear Annie, awakening is always to mystery.
* * * CLOSING BLESSING * * *
Grace and Peace to All
The Sacred in Me bows to the Sacred in You
*Move your cursor over photos for photographer and title.
*Lotus of the Heart is a Work of Brian K. Wilcox. Brian is an interspiriutal Contemplative Chaplain, Writer, and Poet.