A few weeks ago I found a path to a wonderful point just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. I decided to sit a spell. The Fast-Life most people live could take a break at this point and do some good. They might breathe in, breathe out. And more.
I prefer to fill the mind when I meditate. To begin with, nothing complicated. Just simple & true. A little something to chew on. And be nourished by. A verse. A lyric. A sacred theme. A remembered prayer. Bring it in. Relax it out. And maybe more.
Today a sacred text about a promised future came to mind.
the mountains and the hills before you
shall burst into song,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Some masters of meditation, Buddhists, Brahmin, and Taoists, teach us to go beyond thought and image, beyond the senses and the rational mind to meditate most deeply, and achieve higher consciousness. I’m not a meditation master but, respectfully, I have a different view.
For lo, the one who forms the mountains, creates the wind,
reveals his thoughts to mortals,…
Ah yes, that’s what I am, a master of mortality. Yet as I see His mountains. And feel His wind. And maybe, just maybe hear His voice. And, God help me, dare to think His immortal thoughts, thoughts about the promise of recovery, restoration, reunion, new creation, I burst into song too!
To do otherwise would be to miss the point. This beautiful, wonderful point.
A first principle of spirituality is this: we become like what we worship. Worshiping the Creator (not the creation) is how we become genuinely human. The Jewish-Christian story says we are created in God’s image. And are to be His image bearers. His angled mirrors. Reflecting who He is to the world. That’s a high calling. You seek significance? Believe this and you’ve found it. I believe at our best we are points of reflected light. (Not the source of light.) And together we may become luminous.
So it pays to sit a spell. Alone sometimes. Like here at Meditation Point. And also together, in sacred space. To worship. And recharge for the journey. Then more.
I think that is the divine path to enlightenment. The Way.
A master of meditation, Gautama Buddha, and his followers, made a significant undeniable contribution to world culture. But about this point they got it wrong. They do not believe the God of gods is the Creator. Or for that matter that creation is good. To them all existence—birth, decay, sickness, and death—is suffering. Nirvana, freedom from suffering, can only be achieved by a cessation of selfish craving. Which to them meant all craving. Achieving Nirvana required a thousand life times or more. Chained as we are to the wheel of rebirth. Awareness of the restless suffering, impermanence and emptiness of human existence starts you on the path to spiritual liberation. (If you are a Buddhist.) Because of these Truths, Buddha and his followers seek Un-Creation. The ending of the self. Like a drop of water falling into the sea. It turns out Lord Buddha is also a master of extinction.
My religious tradition tells a different story. God through Christ, His Son, is destined to restore creation, putting an end to the suffering of His people, this planet, this Cosmos. Enlightened persons won’t dissolve into a glistening sea of universal sameness. No. God will make creation new again in all of its glorious, richly differentiated, kaleidoscopic, unity. (Suggestion: if you expect to wrap your brain around that last sentence it helps to be Trinitarian: which is to say, at the center of everything is Unity and Diversity coexisting, the One and the Many, Group and Individual equally valued, One God, Three Persons in Loving Community. At the heart of everything. Before there was any created thing. It helps.)
Our part in this story? We begin by thinking God’s thoughts after Him. For amazingly He may be known, not fully but truly, here and now. It begins with what we see and feel and hear and taste and smell. If we are attentive. If we sit a spell.
Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things that have been made.
That is the point of Meditation Point. To know our Creator. Worship. Recharge. And then, to make Him known. By, among other things, alleviating suffering where we can. A down payment of future reality.
Yes, Gautama Buddha, real suffering exists. I know it. More today than yesterday. Birds of prey swoop down into the valley below. Red in beak and claw. And the good creation groans. But the wind whispers that a new day on earth is coming when a great song will be sung, by an unlikely choir, and the trees young and old will clap wildly, as old hostilities and fears dissipate, and the wolf lies down with the lamb (Isaiah 11:6-9).
A day earlier the fifty mile per hour winds streaming across the valleys and hollers of Allegheny county would have pushed me off my perch. But today the wind was gentle. And the fresh green smell of spring lifted up from the valley below. You could almost taste it. Leaf and blade and bud and blossom cast a Spirit spell as I sat, saw, felt, breathed, remembered, listened, and worshiped.
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