Monday, August 10, 2009

Opening To The Eternal

When an untrained person attempts to draw a table, he will tend to draw what he thinks a table looks like. Even with a specific table before him, this undeveloped artist simply won’t accurately perceive how much longer the legs closest him appear or recognize that the top seems more trapezoidal than square or rectangular.

The mental image of a table takes precedence over the table as it actually exists, and the subsequent drawing suffers. As artist and educator, Mick Maslen, states, “Before you are able to draw, you have to learn to see.”

A similar statement can be applied to the art of living. In order to live well, we must learn to accurately perceive~~and fully experience~~life as it truly is.

Too often, our energy is devoted to conceptions about life rather than to the experience of life itself. The present moment is abandoned, either to reveries of past or future, or to a running commentary about what is occurring, complete with interpretations and positive or negative judgments.

Meditation is one method to override this very human tendency. In meditation, we learn to attend to what is, to fully perceive and savor this moment and nothing more.

At first, of course, we become acutely aware of the restlessness of our minds and the extraordinary variety of ways we are lured from the present. Unfortunately, folks often misinterpret this universal reality as evidence of their inability to meditate. But if we stick with it awhile, we become more skilled at leaving the bait of a fidgety mind unbitten. And then something marvelous occurs.

We open to the majesty of what is. For within each moment, a jewel awaits. As theologian, Forrest Church, puts it, “Hidden by the veil of time, eternity is pregnant in every moment of our existence, here, everywhere and always: the eternal now.”

The eternal awaits us, and it awaits us in this very moment. It flows as a perpetual stream, bubbling through our temporal lives, animating and infusing each minute of our existence. Because this is so, theologian Paul Tillich states, “…every moment of time reaches into the eternal,” as well. All we need to do is still our incessant busyness and open to it.

While specific periods of meditation are quite helpful in this endeavor, any activity that seems to stop time can bring us to the here and now. Immersing ourselves in nature, filling with the rich strains of music, deep intimacy with lover, child, or dear companion~~all these and more can bring the breath of the eternal to our awareness.

But there are no special external conditions required. I don’t need to sit on a wooded hillside overlooking a mountain stream to partake of this essence. Since the eternal enlivens every moment, it is available wherever I am. Even now, as I sit at my computer typing these words. Even now, as you sit there reading them.

With focused attention, and a bit of practice, we can learn to pull back the veil of our ordinary preoccupations and open to the glory that is here always.

May you feel the touch of the eternal in the coming week.


Loanne Marie


Catherine said...

I have been thinking how silly it is to judge someone on something they did in the past, usually negative which causes me to hold a negative image of them. That’s in the past – and people change from moment to moment. That’s the trouble with gossip, it keeps a person locked into certain images and takes away the space for him or her to move and grow.

Interestingly enough, I just opened an email of a collection of pictures taken by the Hubble telescope. Most of the images are in real time and also not in real time; in other words, the image we have “now” is of umpteen years ago. We cannot see what it looks like now as light takes so long to travel. Most of the galaxies, stars, nebulae, planets pictured were several thousand light years away and the most amazing picture was one of two swirling galaxies 114 million light years away!!! Imagine! The picture I’m looking at existed long, long before humanoids started to roam the earth some two hundred thousand years ago. I wonder what those two swirling galaxies are doing now. Are they still swirling? Do they even exist any more?

Time is elastic and even though the images I have of a person are not light years away, they are still in the past, and the past is always distant no matter how long ago or recent. I can really only “see” someone in the immediate present with no over layering from a past that no longer exists.

Loanne Marie said...

Oh, thank you, Catherine, for such an lovely, insightful and awe~inspiring comment! Yes, those images from space provide a context for our own small lives. It seems that by keeping that sort of magnitude in mind, we could be kinder to our loved ones by seeing them in 'real time'. Ourselves, too!

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Leia Marie