May you all have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving. As you reflect on your thanksgivings remember that there are more to be found everywhere and nowhere.
At this very moment, the nature of personal spiritual experience is rooted my“distraction.” This morning, I sat on my front porch, coffee in hand, Lucy wanting to play ball, and I just wanted to gaze without focus to see what God was seeing. I wanted to be in the moment, listen, and reconnect. I was ready to write and here it is an hour later. Where did the time go? Sometimes distractions are God’s way of providing focus. I think I’m having a spiritual experience.
The thing about spiritual experiences is that they often creep up on us. They aren’t be planed or prayed for. They need to be recognized for what they are and often, at least in my experience, they’re not what’s expected, and certainly not planned. Often, I suspect they go unrecognized and later there’s a faint inkling deep within that something’s different and not quite the same. Everything changes and everything stays the same.
In the late 70’s on a plane late at night, I told my Dad, for the first time as an adult, that I loved him. I saw something different in his eyes and he said “Son, I love you too.” At 35,000 feet everything changed and everything stayed the same. He died in 2004 again everything changed and everything stayed the same.
The first time as a young man that I asked someone “do you love me” I remembered the words of W.H.Auden “I lost my innocence the first time I asked am I loved.” Everything changed and everything stayed the same. When I learned that I was adopted and different everything changed and everything stayed the same. When my mother said to her young impressionable son “you’re going to be just like your father – short, fat and bald” everything changed and everything stayed the same. When the first lover that I set up house with said “you’ll never be rich, but you’ll be comfortable” everything changed and everything stayed the same. Every day with my first and last conscious breath “everything changes and everything stays the same.
In the darkest, loneliest, painful places of my depression where fear permeates the air and no one votes me off the island everything changes and everything stays the same. Each time I struggle with God – everything changes and everything stays the same. In the very essence of struggle, in the tension between sameness and difference is where “pain and spiritual experience” are found. It is that place where our divine and human nature are one. Anything and everything that prompts movement towards reclaiming our Sacred Identities is “spiritual experience”.
During moments of clarity, when the light begins to color the darkest corners of our beings and we realize we’re not alone – everything changes and everything stays the same. Those are the moments framed by “Sacred Presence” that are always there, but not always seen. St. Boniface reminds us that “God’s center is everywhere and His circumference is nowhere.” The experience of God, whether ours or another’s is always found everywhere and nowhere.