Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Spiritual Geography

Some people are afraid of open spaces. It is called agoraphobia. I have the opposite condition. I love wide open spaces - the wider the better. One of the most emotionally powerful places I have ever visited is the Grand Canyon. It has been more than twenty years since I stood at the South Rim, but I can recall it as if it were yesterday.

I have a similar thrill from being on top of a high mountain. As a young man I climbed the White Mountains of New Hampshire at every opportunity. Now my knees keep me at lower altitudes, but I still hike the smaller peaks. When my soul needs loftier elevations, I can always drive to see the view.

It is not just the heights, but also the silence of such places that attracts me. There is no artificial human noise. I sense the silence with my whole body. The ocean has the same effect on me; there is something about its primordial depths, vastness and spaciousness.

In prayer I am discovering why I am drawn to such spots. They remind me of the depths of my soul. I now visit open spaces during prayer daily. The Spirit communicates the awe of vast ocean depths and clear mountain heights. Any setting can reveal an expanse as grand as a canyon. Everyday spots open up the depths of their true nature.

The awesomeness of the mountains was not in the mountains; it was in me. I brought it with me to those scenic places like a picnic lunch carried to the park. I carry the ocean expanse with me to the ocean. I occupy the great gulf of a desert canyon at all times. But I mistakenly thought I could only bring it out at special times and places.

The Spirit in me is the Openness that I behold outside me. In beholding it I am consumed by it. The Beholder and the Beheld join. Like in Solomon's Song, the distinctions between Lover and Beloved become indistinct in the hearing of the Song.

I still visit those special places. They have not lost their splendor, but I am not dependent on them. I know where the beauty and awe are really located. Not in the geography of the land but the spiritual geography of the soul.
Art is "Grand Canyon - brown" by Asbjorn Lonvig

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