a small opening in a massive rock at Joshua Tree National Park


     The Easter icon sits quietly on my prayer table.  The risen Christ, face radiant, but very, very sober, raises his arms in triumph and in benediction.  I look carefully and slowly and try to work my way into the aura of the icon.  To feel the blessing of the One who stands so solemnly before me.  The seconds tick away.  I would like to say “the minutes tick away”, but I’m still such a novice at this business of meditative silence and listening.  The icon gradually becomes for me an opening, a place where I can, however briefly, step into a world beyond the confines of this skin, these bones.  A place where I can experience a deeper world beyond the shallows of my mundane life, a space filled with a love that encompasses my most secret hopes and fears.

     The pastor comes to visit, and, as sacred words draw us to a place of dying, rising love, we taste the bread of body broken in the cold and heat of all earth’s sorrow and sin.  We sip the wine of holy blood shed for us and for all people  And once again, I feel my little world opening to a vastness that stretches through all time and then beyond to mystery of Word that spoke all that is into being.  To mystery of Word that became flesh and lived among us, to draw us, unite us to the One who spoke the cosmic light that shattered, and continues to shatter, the darkness all around: the darkness of what happened in Boston yesterday, the darkness that often casts shadows across our fragile lives, the darkness that covers Syria, North Korea, and scores of other troubled places around our world.

     The red-bellied woodpecker swoops to the suet that hangs just outside our kitchen window.  Black, beady eyes flash under the radiant splash of red that crowns his regal head.  I stop whatever I am doing.  I stand and watch, transfixed by such beauty, such poise, such burst of joyous color.  And once again my small world opens up, opens to the intricate immensity of life pulsing under his wings, a pulsing linked to throbs and rhythms that have been beating through aeons of time and across the vastness of space that soars beyond our tiny world.

     Openings.  Tiny piercings of the filmy barrier that separates the now from the forever; the mortal from the immortal; this too, too solid flesh from a world of spirit energy bursting just beyond our limited sight.  Openings.  Grace-filled apertures that call me to a place of wonder, to a place of hope, to a place of realities that often burst the boundaries of mere words.


8 thoughts on “Openings

  1. I have an icon of the risen Christ in glistening white with arms outstretched. He stands in an oval whose color is subtly set off from the rest of the background. Such an oval is called a mandorla, . It “represents an opening ripped asunder in the fabric of the world to expose the glory of Heaven beyond, symbolic of Divine revelation.” Needless to say, your post reminded me of this icon. Each is perhaps a commentary on the other.

  2. Thank you for that beautiful post. I love the idea of the opening through which one enters a sacred space where one as a single human being does not exist. That’s the aim of Buddhist meditation in a sense. This morning thinking of the senseless events, particularly in Boston, but elsewhere…I needed your words.

    Here’s something else that comforts me: From Patton Oswalt:

    “I don’t know what’s going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths. But here’s what I DO know. If it’s one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. … This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness.

    But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago,” – Patton Oswalt.


    Sent from my iPad

  3. On the day following the tragic and senseless act of violence in the streets of Boston your words were a welcome add to my refocus on my faith and moving forward. Thank you.

    • I think we all need a bit of refocussing when tragedy strikes so close to home. I wonder how the people of Syria find focus for their lives in the midst of the daily violence of their lives. Prayers for the Boston victims lead us to prayers for so many others.

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