The World As I See It
“….The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery — even if mixed with fear — that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds: it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity. In this sense, and only this sense, I am a deeply religious man… I am satisfied with the mystery of life’s eternity and with a knowledge, a sense, of the marvelous structure of existence — as well as the humble attempt to understand even a tiny portion of the Reason that manifests itself in nature.”
Einstein photo and quotation credit: www.aip.org/history/einstein/essay.htm
NASA Royalty- Free Photographs
Recently, a fellow dreamer, Kayla, (www.dreamerly.com) posted this dream:
“Last night my dreams took me to the strangest places – to a little neighborhood of modern buildings nestled among the familiar imagery of my hometown. On our way to our destination, my companion in the dream and I passed a light blue modern structure, a restaurant called “The Almond.” (I think that name is delightful and if I were to start a restaurant, I would surely name it just that!) Our destination in the dream was the house of a woman who served dinner from her home. It was a Sunday, and we were uncertain if she would be serving dinner that night. She was. When we were seated, we were the only ones there, but soon more people came and more and more, so that the room was completely full. A strange feast of the oddest foods was served. It was a marvelous dream, one that evokes memories of Babette’s Feast and that has had me moving through my day with an inward eye and a strange state of mind.”
With Kayla’s nod, I made an attempt to enter her dream and create a poem:
Thirty-Seventh Ave. S.W.
Basks in the glow of yesteryear,
Yester joy, and the abandonment of youth.
Its aura creates an illusion of “All is well,”
When it isn’t….But THIS part is well:
Re-enacting every movie we saw,
I at the top of one vacant lot, a virtual Carol Burnet, singing at the top of my lungs,
“I’m calling you, ooo, ooo, ooo,”
Melania Wozniak echoing from the opposite vacant lot,
“I’m answering you, ooo, ooo, ooo.”
A “gemutlich” time, a hospitable hiatus
From a sometimes inhospitable home.
Out on Thirty-Seventh Ave. S.W.
I didn’t have to fit in where I didn’t fit.
Here, the wild, tomboy-seer
The neighborhood of my youth
Tenders a gift:
“Return to my table and re-member the memories.”
And in the breaking of the bread
© rita h kowats
While looking for food, a nomad in the Namib Desert might see this little Fringe-Toed Lizard doing his gymnastics to survive the otherwise unsurvivable heat. He lifts one appendage at a time, removing it momentarily from the sand’s heat. At noon he will burrow into the cooler sand beneath the surface. At dawn our nomad would enjoy the cool mist blowing in from the ocean, and with many other plants and animals, sip from its moisture left on leaves. The Sidewinder snake adapts its behavior by heaving its body across the sand, touching down in only two places at a time.
Adapting. And how do we human beings adapt our souls to meet the overwhelming challenges thrown at us by our environment? Like these desert animals, we are a resilient lot. We survive and we often thrive. Adaptation of the soul is analagous to adaptation to environments; however, unlike other animals, we can make choices- choices which get us and others into dire situations, and choices which redeem us. Apartheid imprisoned Nelson Mandella for twenty-eight years, and his spirit adapted and thrived. I can only conjecture about the details of Mandella’s adaptation. You have developed your ways of adapting to spiritual challenges, to “The Dark Night of the Soul,” as John of the Cross called it. These choices have redeemed me at times:
1. Be Faithful
To mantras that focus me, affirmations, rituals, other prayer forms.
2. Be Helpful
Seek out viable and positive service opportunities. Service takes us out of ourselves.
3. Be Creative
Paint, draw, write, compose music, play music) Creative activity often puts us into an altered state where we can forget our despair for a while, and unite with the Other.
4. Be Communal
Talk with a spiritual guide or trusted friend.
These adaptations get me through the heat of the day: Old truths embedded in a new metaphor.
Quilt by Nadine Meeker
The soul knows what she wants, even if our ego is confused. She casts out invitations, and like stones cast on gentle water, they ripple out, and touch every aspect of our lives.
Images from the soul are spontaneous lights from the Godhead. The soul casts them out, and stepping into the light, she waits until we are conscious enough to see and respond. We can teach ourselves how to be aware of the invitations by fidelity to two spiritual practices. First, we can view synchronous events as invitations from our soul, and daily ask for the grace to pay attention to them. With practice, we can learn to focus intentionally on our surroundings and interactions with people, staying open to the possibilities they “throw out.” For example, one day I may have a dream about a one-time friend, in which he wrestles with strong emotions. The next day I stumble upon an article about grieving that touches on my recent experience of loss, and I think again of the dream and become concerned about my friend with no apparent cause; however, I resist the urge to shrug it off with, “Oh, it’s ‘just’ a coincidence.” I ask myself what images surround my friend when I think about him? What images surround me? What feelings do these experiences evoke about him and about me? I decide to inquire about his well-being from a mutual friend, and learn that his mother died at the same time as I lost a loved one. The synchronistic event becomes an invitation cast out to me, and if I respond to its light, I grow.
We can develop our imaginations by devoting time to creative expression. Time spent drawing, painting, writing, making music, dancing, etc., is liminal time…the space in between, in which the soul casts her sacred images. If we work 9-5 and surround ourselves with people and frantic activity 24-7, there is no time to create, and we will miss the light.
Writing this reflection has been a good examin for myself. May the soul’s images astound us.