There is so much beauty and truth interwoven throughout all of the wisdom traditions and philosophies. God has gilded the inner linings of man's consciousness with a sense of His own. Internally, we bear the distinct signature of our Creator. Through earnest seeking brought upon by intense spiritual thirst and hunger, seekers from all corners of the earth have caught glimpses of His truths and reality. Expressed in the prayers, songs and written texts of man since nearly the beginning have been testaments of those who have been touched by His love and mercy. Man has always lifted his spirit eagerly towards His Maker. Empty hands, empty hearts, seeking to be filled with the only cure for spiritual drought- His living water; reviving, renewing, resurrecting our sense of hope and defining our sense of what's real while allowing us to shed the illusions of what's not.
The full revelation of God's nature and reality, I am coming to believe, can be likened to the illustration of a multi-faceted jewel. Now, I know some of my ideas might not resonate well with some people who read this. But they are ideas, and I'm not claiming to be without fallacy. I'd love to hear other people's thoughts towards them in the comments section. Using the said illustration, each religion, each spiritual approach and experience, is a mirror set into the jagged contours of the jewel at a differing angle from its neighbor, many times reflecting similiar aspects of God's nature but oftentimes revealing different views of His reality.
If this is indeed true it makes little sense for one side, one mirror, to attempt to "out-do" any of the other sides. This would be a part claiming full revelation of what can only be experienced as a collective whole. Only until one steps back and observes the jewel in all of its many different angles, does a more complete revelation of God's reality come into view and one begins to witness the many mirrors of God. Some experiences I had recently, while walking a labyrinth for the first time, helped reconfirm me of some of these conclusions.
Labyrinths are paths that weave themselves in patterns that take the meditator to the center and then back out to the beginning where they started. They are walked mindfully in silence. I've always wanted to practice walking meditation on one so when I found out there was one at a Catholic church by my dentist's office, I decided to stop there before an appointment I had this week. I wrote an article a few months ago on walking labyrinths, for more details about the practice, you can read it here: http://ascendingthehills.blogspot.com/2011/03/labryrinth-sacred-path-to-center.html
I experienced a temporary moment of discouragement after I had pulled in the church parking lot and discovered that most of the labyrinth was covered in snow. Impressions of its outline rose out of the snow and there were parts where the path could be seen; a slushy mixture of gravel, slush, snow and brick. I knew roughly what this particular labyrinth was supposed to look like, having seen pictures of it online before arriving. And yet, all I could make out now were concentric circles in the snow. So, I decided not to guess at the path in which I would take and merely walk in the circles I could see towards the center and back out. Even if I was unable to walk the exact pattern of the labyrinth, that's not what mattered most. What mattered most was the mindfulness in which I approached the walk. I also made a mental note to return and walk this labyrinth again, next time, not after a snowfall.
A sign at the entrance of the labyrinth suggests to the meditator to begin walking with some sort of intention. A prayer for a specific need or something one desires to know or discover from God. For awhile now, I've been struggling with the apparent juxtoposition between the nature of God that He seems to be revealing to me in moments of prayer and meditation and the more categoric version of God I have been taught and the reality of which I have never even thought of questioning in the past. Am I leading myself astray or going in the right direction? Should I listen to what I feel my heart is receiving, or am I deceiving my own self, led by the wishful thinking and desires of my own ego?
My heart's intention was: Where God are you? How can I find more of your truths? Show me your ways, tell me if I'm heading in the right direction.
I started off with the Jesus prayer, as I usually do, to center myself. But God, I felt, was telling me no, not this time. I was glad nobody was nearby, save the birds foraging for food beneath the trees that lined one side of the perimeter. For, after a few steps of walking forward in silence, within me rose this incredible desire to chant "om". So I succumbed to my inner promptings, and almost inaudibly at first, began chanting om. As I continued, a verse from the Bhagavad Gita, where Krishna said he (Brahman) can be found in the syllable "om", flashed through my mind.
I proceeded, step by step, feeling the pressure of my feet press down on the snow, hearing the sound of it compacting underneath, feeling its wet cold seep into my shoes. I could hear my chant become more like a song, as a melody formed. I just kept singing/chanting om. Concentrating on the short distance in front of me. Cool air going in through my nostrils, warm air exhaling. The sharp wind stinging my ears, causing me to draw the hood of my jacket up to protect myself from the unforgiving elements of an unusually chill autumn's day.
"Om"...Deep within me, my heart called out to God. "Where are you? Where can I find more of you? I thirst for you and your truth! Am I on the right path?" Images began to flicker through my mind. "Om..."...Great expanses of land, an ancient people trekking over it's terrain. Images of people, all different kinds, flashed forward in a brief animated collage. An answer seemed to flood through my consciousness. "Where am I not? I am already found in every language, every tribe. In every heart."
I continued walking and in my mind I began to lament to myself. How heretical I am becoming! I feel I am hearing from God, but what is this that I am hearing? It goes against so much of what I have been taught...
I plodded onward in a steady and even pace. One foot following the other. Rising, stepping, pressing into slush and gravel and leaving traces of my size six shoe on virgin snow. Ripples of leaves shimmering like schools of psychedelic fish all around me. Reds, oranges, yellows browns and greens all against the brilliance of the sky painted a bold cerulean. God's glory pressing into me so hard, making me want to fall to my knees, yet pressing outwards simultaneously, filling me with the elated desire to take flight and join the wind in a frolic through the heavens. I continued, centering myself, drawing myself into the present, and deeper into His presence.
I soon found myself about to reach the center. I wanted my journey to continue, I didn't want it to end. I even repeated the last circle twice. But alas, the center, could not be avoided and I found myself standing there, in silence.
I felt this intense feeling of interconnectedness with all that surrounded me as I stood there, in the very center. God is in everything. Everything is in God. "There is no place or heart where He is not", I repeated the truth I had been given earlier out loud, to nobody but perhaps Autumn herself, who breathed all around me with the rest of Creation, working at shedding her last fiery-hued layers. Nearly as naked now as my soul felt.
"Where do I find more of your truth?" I found myself asking earnestly. "The truth is like the wind. You can't hold it, you can only experience it. You can only find it in the present. You seek too much to contain that which cannot be contained. Be at peace and let it flow through you." I stood there for a few more minutes. Living heartbeat by heartbeat. Feeling life all around me doing what it does best as it indunated my senses with its energy and rhythms. I then turned and slowly, in the same pace I had pursued the center of the labyrinth with, retraced my steps back.
As I pulled out of the church parking lot I exhaled deeply. There is so much to learn, to discover, to experience, when it comes to God and reality. There always seems to be more questions than answers. To me, though, that isn't daunting but almost exhilarating. It means there's no end to discovering the wonders of God.
So tell me, what has God revealed to you lately, of His nature, of His love? I'd love to hear about it. Please leave those and all other thoughts and comments you might have in the comments section. Thank you :)