“And God said unto Moses, ‘Come up to Me on the mountain, and be there”
A friend of mine has travelled the world and his passport reads like a national geographic episode guide. He has stood in sacred temples in the Himalayas, wandered the ancient streets of Tibet, Bangladesh and lived in an ashram in India. He recalls standing on the top of Machu Pichu in Peru and being utterly amazed by what he saw and how it made him feel. Most of what he witnessed is hard to explain he says, but he is convinced by it. He doesn’t know whether to call it God, or the universe nor doesn’t he feel the need to choose between the two.
So I ask him how all of his mystical experiences have influenced his personal relationships. It seems they have caused some grief he explains. I can only imagine it’s hard when you have experienced all his has. His biggest struggle he says seems to be with his wife, and their different ideas around spirituality.
See his wife finds her faith strengthened by being apart of a church community.
He says to me, ‘Aaron, once you have seen what I have seen, and tasted what I have tasted, how can you sit in a white square box and call it is a spiritual experience?’
On the outset you might agree, even I could imagine where he was coming from.
There was a pause.
I looked at him and said…can I ask you something honestly?
I mean no offence by what I am going to say.….
He said sure.
Is it possible, that almost anyone could stand in the Himalayas and claim a spiritual experience? I mean come on, it’s amazing…the beauty, the splendor, the altitude.
I think almost anyone could stand at Machu Pichu and feel something otherworldly.
Those experiences are majestic, awesome, incredible and expensive.
True—but what’s your point? he asked.
To not be moved would be the exception to the rule. What I am interested in, what really intrigues me—Is how your wife can sit on a wooden pew, or across a coffee table from a friend and find a similar connection to the creator of the universe.
I have no questions for you about how you managed to experience God in these sacred spaces. It would be unreasonable to her you say you didn’t.
But I want to speak with your wife. I want to know how she could find the sacred in the everyday. The divine in the pedestrian. In order for that to happen you have to wake up and discover God is here now.
There was silence again.
Two weeks later we met up again.
It was winter.
He had gone for a walk outside on a trail through the bush on a snowy day.
The trail circles around in a loop. For the whole walk he was looking up at the sky and asking God to show up in his life, to speak in some way that will make him feel as he did on one of the mountains of his past.
At the end of the walk, he felt empty—his request left unanswered.
He looked down the path that begins the trail he had just walked. There he noticed a set of coyote tracks beside his foot prints in the snow. Retracing his own tracks on the trail he realized he had been followed the whole time.
He looked at me and said, I had been looking up the whole time looking for cosmological evidence for God, and I should have been looking down.
I was looking for a way to feel noticed and yet, I wasn’t noticing
God was in this place, but I was not awake.
Being here now is much easier when you realize that this moment is were we can experience God—In this place in this space.
We are often looking everywhere else but here.
What if we could be like Jacob in that old Hebrew story who wakes up from a dream and says; Wow, God is in this place and I did not know.
God is always in the present moment and most of the time we don’t know—because we are rarely in the present moment.
If only we could wake up and realize who it is that sits with us even when we are absent. It could it be enough for us to find strength to carry on, to find comfort to let go, to find meaning and purpose in whatever we face.
Because if God can be here, then maybe you can to!
Perhaps the reason so many Christians are in a hurry for the next life is because they are having trouble finding God in this one. But if you can find and experience the divine here now, then the incentive isn’t to leave, but to be.