November 14, 2014

Shifting Ground

        Everything is in motion. When we reach our imagination outward beyond the surface of this familiar Earth, we discover no absolutes—no “up” or “down,” not even “near” or “far” in an expanding, evolving Cosmos. Below the reassuring stability painted by our senses there exists a similarly eerie, bottomless Universe—a magical place where particles pop in and out of the Pregnant Void. Regardless how closely we peer, there simply is no “there” there, nothing we can grasp. Even time, that good old measuring stick, has no ultimate meaning. Reality opens every direction we turn into nesting holograms; each spark is an image of the Whole. Life, it turns out, is far more wonderful and Mysterious than we ever imagined. Far from living under a static heavens, we are woven into a vast, exploding embryogenesis.

       Ancient spiritual traditions hint at this and new discoveries in biology and physics now pull us down an intellectual rabbit hole. Is it possible, as cosmologist Brian Swimme contends, that humanity’s purpose is not unlike a planetary nervous system, that the new species, Homo sapiens, may evolve into the heart and mind of this remarkable, living World? We are not done! Neither are we an accident of Nature, intruders, nor (as some contend) a disease upon the planet. We have been four billion years in formation, gifted by exploding stars and the generosity of uncounted organisms with our magnificent world and our sacred bodies. Awe and wonder are the only appropriate response if we can but look up from our fears into the glory of the night sky.

        So without solid markers in time or space, how do we grasp the Human Journey? In particular, how do we individual bits of this Whole maintain a sense of belonging and purpose amidst the distractions of our contrived reality of money and gridlock? Life is change and often great loss. Beyond the TV set and cell phone, change—large and small—eats away at our solid parts, replacing our molecules second-by-second, removing great chunks of our identity with a single stroke. No amount of careful planning, insurance, or denial can fortify our shifting path or keep us above the waves.

        And yet . . . there are endless dimensions. “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” I was once driven to walking over mountain ranges, seeking peace and beauty—that illusive “essence” that makes life sparkle. Now our little path to the river, a journey of yards, reveals expanses to me that I had quite overlooked. The world is alive, and it becomes more intricate the deeper we peer. It whispers to us all the time. Mystery and wonder under every stone; each drop of water is a Universe of organizing principles, containing an ocean of possibilities. One may explore the depth as well as the breadth of Nature. Stephen Hawking, unable to even turn his head, falls into a timeless sea of Light. Gaze beyond appearances and you will glimpse eternity.

        Very well, you say. So what does this mean to me? It means you get to recreate your life daily, infusing it with Joy and purpose. You. No one else can do this. It also means that age can be a time of transformation if you use the body within its new specifications and honor its needs. I speak to a friend who has lost heart. He grieves the passing mobility and youth. “I used to,” he says to me. He cannot see beyond depletion. He can’t celebrate his eyesight or kidneys, his friends. “Look up from your expectations,” I say. “Choose again.”

       My knees tell me not to carry heavy packs over mountains. My days of backpacking the high ridges may be over, though I can still walk that path to the river where I now glimpse worlds within worlds. My life is not as broad as it was, and yet it deepens. I have lost nothing. I could crawl along that familiar trail, worn smooth these many years by my forgetful feet, and fall in love with each sprig of moss. Faery tunnels open beneath tiny plants—things I never noticed with my gaze on the horizon—little piles of berries on the threshold of vole palaces, mushrooms looming like alien cities. Miracles. Nothing but miracles!

        May we evolve in grace to become blessings to this good Earth, as are intended to destined to be. Today I lay down my disappointments and fall into the sky.

Blessings and Peace,
Jeanie and Tom

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