The secret of life takes us into unbelievable paradox—literally. We cannot believe it.
The miraculous appears in the ordinary,
the eternal hides among the transitory,
the universal lays in the lap of the particular . . . and we can’t see it.
That’s because in our yearning for the divine, we’ve always been taught to look somewhere else. Look up, look far away, look beyond. Anywhere but right here.
Some reject this spirituality which is rooted in the plainness of the earth and the embarrassing ordinariness of life because they insist on holding out for the “real thing.” There really is a real heaven, they want to say, and it’s not just here on earth. They’re right, of course. There is a realm that transcends the material, earthly plane of existence. It’s just that the only door into that other world is set firmly in this one. That’s the “secret.”
It’s not a secret because something is being kept from you, but only because in the great comedy of creation, God put the highest bliss on the lowest shelf. And we need someone almost literally to take our upturned heads and push them down, to say, Look! Keep on looking until you see it.
It’s not unlike those “find the hidden image” puzzles. Can you find the owl in this picture?
(Hint: look at the snout as eyes…turn it upside down.)
I am always looking up, up and away for the treasure of life. For me, the poet Wendell Berry is someone who takes my upturned head in his gentle but firm hands and pushes it down, down.
Can you find the glory in this poem?
The Wild Geese
Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer’s end. In time’s maze
over fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed’s marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.