The "Invasion" of the Morning Light
Mornings in the desert are pristine. Every day I sit in my garden watching the rays of the rising sun swoop onto the mountains, and it feels like I am present once again at the very moment of creation as the forces of light invade the void and fill up the emptiness.
Day after day the same scene is repeated, persistently repeated, relentlessly repeated - whether I want it or not, light always dawns upon me and every day I am invited into new possibilities as a persistently abiding Holy Presence dawns, and like some great cosmic magnet, tugs at my spirit and pulls me out of my self into deeper union.
Of course every day I also have a choice- I can go into my house, pull the drapes shut and hide from the light, or I can sit and bask in its pristine beauty, grateful for the invitations to begin anew again.
This morning as I sat in the persistent light of the dawning day, I thought about my images of "God" and how profoundly different I imagine "God" in the second half of my life as compared to when I was younger.
In my earlier years, for me God was indeed a person up above. The "man upstairs" who could grant favors or deny favors according to His will - a good job, a good grade on a test, a nice house, a cure from a sickness. I can recall the many sermons I heard about being "persistent" in prayer - keep praying even if you don't, at first, get what you want. If you pray long enough and hard enough maybe you will wear "God" down and He will ultimately relent and give you what you want.
My earlier images of "God" have, in my later years, been literally turned upside down. When it comes to being "persistent, "I actually think that "God" is the persistent one -relentlessly seeking us out, always wanting the best for us. God is the untamed energy of holy love, never giving up, every day dawning on our lives as an abiding Holy Presence wanting more for us than we could possibly even ask for or imagine.
The great mystics and poets have always understood something of "God's" persistent desire for us. I think of the mystic- poet, John Donne, who cries out that God is "battering his heart," or the poet, Francis Thompson, who calls God "The Hound of Heaven." God almost badgering the human condition until we finally relent and give in- pulling us out of our dark hiding places into a deeper union in the light of love.
Saint Augustine sings of his intimate and even passionate experience of the hounding Holy Presence who relentlessly pursued him, even when he was hiding behind the walls of the solitude of his own selfishness:
You called, You shouted and you broke through my deafness.
You flashed you shone, and you dispelled my blindness.
You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath
and now I pant for you
And so, I sit in my garden, bathed in the pristine rays of a dawning sun. It flashes and it shines and it will not let me go. Every morning I am persistently invaded by the light - battering my heart, hounding me into new life and deeper union.
What more can I ask for? The only possible prayer I can utter is, "Thank you!"
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