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.
I have a very difficult time being present. But in those fleeting moments when I can pull it off…man oh man, that is living. It’s then that I know God is with me.
You got it. Preach it!
Look for the American poet Mary Oliver who also finds glory in her everyday surroundings -Always read your meditations with great pleasure-
Thanks for reading. And yes, Oliver is required reading for life.
Susie Middleton says
Oh how I love that poem. When I saw your headline, I thought– Wendell Berry!! He’s my hero. A friend gave me a collection of his essays (and later poems) when I was struggling, and they really helped to start me in the right direction.
I am so glad you are making this point today and hope you will keep writing about this, David. There are so many extraordinary wonders in every day life that people rush past in the search for something else, something more. The full moon last night was maybe one of the prettiest things you can ever see.
Okay back to harvesting bright pink radishes!
Life puts the highest bliss on the lowest shelf. Love that, David. Thanks.
Love, love , LOVE this !!!