the splendor of sunrise over the desert
The word "splendor" is hardly ever used nowadays. It means "great brightness," or "luster." As usual, this morning I sat in my meditation garden, and at the moment when the sun made it's first appearance over the eastern mountains, I was filled with a sense of "splendor."
As the first rays of the sun hit the earth, it was as if something wild, passionate, untamed and uncontrollable was unleashed. Just as the sun appeared, the winds rustled and the earth stirred to the promptings of a new day, filled with the promise of renewed life.
It was a wonderful, mystical moment that I had never expected, over which I had no control. All I could do was enjoy it.
As I sat basking in the overwhelming beauty of those first rays of the rising sun, I knew I was also experiencing something of the Holy Presence flowing through it all. God, the Divine Presence, wild, untamed, passionate, uncontrollable, energizing, life-giving.
In my reflection this morning I also thought about how I have tried to tame and control God for most of my life. After all, over the span of my career, I have been an ordained official of the organized religious institution of the church.
It seems to me that, quite often, the role organized religion plays is to tame and control the uncontrollable.
Actually it's all quite mechanistic. The church, the temple, the mosque often function as channels for access to God. If you follow the prescribed law and ritual, you are granted admission to God, you are given a "piece" of God. The closer you follow the prescriptions, the more access you get.
This keeps God well under control and nicely tamed.
But God isn't a machine to be manipulated or "doled out" by our human machinations. God is the Divine Presence freely flowing in and through everything and every one. God - wildly unleashed, filling it all with wonderful, mysterious "splendor," always surprising us in new and unexpected ways.
Back in the 4th century, Saint Augustine wrote a poem about his encounter with the Divine Presence. I am often not very fond of Augustine's theology, but I do love his passionate poem:
You called; You cried;
and You broke through my deafness.
You flashed; You shone;
and You chased away my darkness;
You became fragrant; and I inhaled and sighed for You.
and now I hunger and thirst for You.
You touched me;
and I burn for Your embrace.