Sunday, January 24, 2016

Touching the Mystery

It was dusk, and I was driving the two lane road a few miles from home. Suddenly, he was there. Mere feet from my front bumper, a big, beautiful bull elk materialized out of the dim light, apparently having burst at breakneck speed from the trees to the left of the highway.

Breakneck speed…a term befitting the potential that moment held for us both. I was accelerating to 60 mph, and he was directly in front of me and streaking toward the right. In that partial second, my hands and feet acted on their own~~steering wheel turned sharply left, foot hitting the brake.
The elk’s right hip struck between bumper and right front tire with a thud I felt as much as heard. With the slightest change in timing, his or mine, 700 pounds of dying elk would have smashed through my windshield. According to the kind man who doubled back to make sure I was okay, the elk hardly broke stride, easily exiting the pavement and clearing a roadside fence with regal grace. And he was gone.
My husband, supportive as always and immeasurably relieved to find me unscathed, praised my driving skill. I knew, though, that skill had little to do with it. Yes, I’m a good driver, as are others who die in such collisions. Was it sheer luck, then? Providence? Was there a personal message in this powerful animal’s appearance in that twilight moment? Or was it simply not our time~~elk’s or mine~~to leave this sweet Earth?

Humans through the eons have sought to find answers to questions such as these, reaching deeply into that grand Mystery that flows beneath and through it all. And they’ve brought forth deep perceptions. Their wisdom comforts and offers a degree of confidence that we might pass our brief time on this Earth in a way worthy of the opportunity.

While the particulars vary, all spiritual traditions urge us to cultivate the ability to see individual moments as manifestations of that timeless and unfathomable Mystery. And to stand humbly before it, in awe and with reverence.

In an original song, musician Jenny Bird uses this quote from the 16th century mystic St. John of the Cross: “All a soul really wants is the unknown in the heart of the Mystery.” The elk offered me an opportunity to touch the edge of that Mystery, a chance to experience more deeply my human soul’s place within that vast universal heart.

Car repairs, quite minor considering, are not yet completed, and I am still discerning the personal meaning of the event that evening. But gratitude rose up immediately, and returns frequently.

To you, beautiful elk, magnificent creature, I say this…It was an honor to dance with you for that briefest of times. I am so glad you lived. May your presence grace this Earth for years to come.

Blessings and more blessings!


For more on Jenny Bird and her marvelous music, click here.