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.