Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with the light. Matthew 6:22 MSG
Just a few weeks ago, Peter and I were blessed by a driving vacation on the backroads of Eastern Oregon. We were able to spend some time at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge where we spent several hours basking in the beauty, tenderness and sweet songs of birds such as we have rarely seen before. We drove along country roads where all we saw for hours were acres upon acres of cattle and sheep ranches lying in the foothills of the snowcapped Steen’s Mountains. It was breathtaking. The presence of our Creator was everywhere.
How then am I to see our Creator not only in the majesty of nature but also in my daily walk? Isn’t the true Christian one who sees and experiences the presence of Christ everywhere? When I am cut off in traffic? Or when I have to interact with a difficult client? Or standing in the grocery store line with someone who is loud, rude and belligerent? Thomas Merton reminds me. “If we believe in the Incarnation of the Son of God, there should be no one on earth in whom we are not prepared to see, in mystery, the presence of Christ. (NSC p.296)
So how do I see with the eyes of my heart? How do I live immersed in the mind of Christ? Why (as my teacher Jim Finley says) do I spend so many of my waking hours trapped on the outer circumference of the inner richness of the life I am living? Why do I find myself living in the shallows when I yearn for, pine for, thirst for a life fully immersed in the deep?
My deep need calls out to the deep kindness of your love.
Your waterfall of weeping sent waves of sorrow over my soul,
carrying me away, cascading over me
like a thundering cataract.
Psalm 42:7 TPT
St Paul says, “What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise.” (Romans 7:15 MSG) As I ponder how this dilemma is also true for me, I am soon reminded “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try and figure everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.” (Proverb 3:5-6 MSG)
But again, how? The ‘how” I suspect is often simply revealed in daily living. But it also takes practice. I believe one of the greatest gifts offered by the Christian Contemplative tradition is this invitation to “practice”. I was taught “find your practice and practice it”. I have found “practice” to be a response to the “how”. What is meant by “practice”? That which brings heart, soul, mind and body to the full Presence, Love, and Oneness of God. “Practice” is intentionally showing up with “eyes wide in wonder and belief” There are many ways – Leccio Divina, Prayer of the Hours, Fasting, Silence, Solitude to name only a few. I like to think of “practice” as setting the table for the heavenly banquet – not so much for the feast itself, but for the Holy Guest to arrive. Then I wait.
And soon enough and from time to time, there is a quickening – a brief realization that I am a fool to worry so. I am given a brief glimpse of a vast, spacious, boundary-less “Is-ness” pouring itself out to me and all creation.
I pray to be given the courage, strength, and commitment not to break faith with what has been given and to live this way for the remainder of my days. And you? How are you being invited to live – deeply live – in the inner richness of the life you are living?