The first of these occurred several minutes after entering the sauna. The temperature within that small room exceeded 160 degrees, and an intensification of my own internal heat was underway. As all manner of toxins were being released, a moment arrived when I could no longer think. I was pulled abruptly into the present and was transfixed.
Another moment came while sitting in the hottest pool~~108 degrees of pristine water, naturally heated from deep within the earth. Steam rising, mountains surrounding, turbulent sky enclosing, and a substance that looked like hail, felt like snow, and sounded like rain began to fall. I dropped again into this dazzling present, recognizing it as holy.
A bit later, when I was too hot to remain in the water any longer, but too cold to sit out in the frigid air, I laid on my back across the top step that runs along one edge of the pool. The back of me submerged in that searing water, the front touched by icy air, I watched large white clouds lazily shape~shift against the deep blue of a now otherwise clear mountain sky. Again, I was awakened to a present that was infused by the numinous.
And riding home in the backseat of my friend’s car after our soak was done, a CD of kirtan, a form of Indian devotional music, played. As my own joy~filled voice joined in the chanting, I opened once again~~and again and again~~and knew myself blessed.
Four seemingly separate occasions, one experience. It’s hard to imagine that these four instances reflected anything other than a sudden perception on my part of that which is always there.
Does God transcend this world of ours, or does the Infinite permeate and infuse each and every facet of creation? To me, both appear true. It seems that our task, though, is to open to the sacred within our daily lives. To do this, we must transcend the world of our own making, the busyness of mind and personal preoccupations which unknowingly convey the assumption that God is only out there, beyond.
When Jesus urges us, in Mathew 13, to see with our eyes, hear with our ears, and understand with our hearts, I believe he’s encouraging us to recognize the immanent God, the holiness that is right here, if only we would open to it.
We are sometimes given, as I was today, moments of grace when the veil lifts and we stand awe~struck. Echoes of this grace can remain with us long after the initial experience starts to fade. We may begin to thirst for more. Perhaps we might even be inspired to commit to consciously enlarging our capacity to perceive this divine immanence.
Devoting ourselves to such a path is indeed challenging, especially when life is difficult. Yet, it brings with it many gifts, not the least of which is a deeper experience of the sacred as it weaves its way throughout our lives.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. wrote, “All is holy where devotion kneels.” May we each kneel often in the coming week.