Monday, August 11, 2014


"Surprising Beauty"
-in my meditation garden-

Every day, in the late afternoon, I routinely begin to think about what I might reflect on in my next day's blog post. Yesterday I was feeling sort of "dried up" and kind of dull - the fact that it was 110 degrees in the afternoon heat didn't help much. I had been racking my brain trying to figure out what today's post might look like, mentally arranging a variety of possible topics, but the more I "thought about" what I might write about today, the less energy I felt - I was "fresh out" of ideas.  

Suppertime was approaching, and so my wife and I stopped at our local supermarket to pick up a few items for the evening meal. It was all very uneventful as we went through the checkout line until this one little pinpoint moment of unexpected beauty reached out and grabbed us as we placed a few simple sprigs of fresh mint on the checkout counter. In a clarifying instant we were all suddenly struck by an alluring and intoxicating fragrance.

It wasn't just me that noticed it. We were all stopped in our tracks, suddenly surprised by the fresh exotic smell of cool refreshing mint on a hot summer's day in the desert.  The cashier said, "wow, what a beautiful fragrance;" a passing-by shopper stopped her cart and said, "that smells so wonderful;" the store manager came from behind her desk, "I wondered what I was smelling, that's really beautiful." 

It was a moment of crystal clarity for me.  I had been trying so hard to figure it out, to find something "Beautiful" that I might talk about today, but instead it was "Beauty" that reached out and found me. 
The seeker was the one who had been sought out- and maybe that's exactly what the "spiritual journey" is really all about.

For some, it may seem a bit of a stretch to think that the smell of fresh mint in a supermarket would have anything to do with "God." But for me that five-second moment in a market had everything to do with "God." In fact it was a holy moment - a living encounter with "God" who is "Beauty. 

"God" is the universal energy of love flowing in every cell and in every atom of everything that is, but more often than not we are oblivious to this Holy Presence because our minds are too cluttered and too preoccupied. Yet, every once in a while there will be a crack in the armor of our consciousness, a thin place in the thick coating,  and the light will shine through the crack if only in a brief flash. 

The enticing fragrance of fresh mint on a hot summer's day was a flash of "God" enticing all who passed by to stop and drink in the "Beauty."

My supermarket encounter yesterday made me realize ever more clearly once again that there really is no distinction between the sacred and the secular.  The supermarket was a great cathedral and a few sprigs of mint on a counter were "Holy Communion." 

Most of us talk about the spiritual journey as if it is something we ourselves orchestrate and arrange - our plan by which we go looking for "God" in our lives,  our strategy for finding meaning and transcendence in life and achieving deeper peace. I think perhaps we have it upside down -the spiritual journey is not so much about our seeking as it is about being available to the ONE who seeks us out. 

I wonder what surprises lie in store for me today. 


  1. This reminded me of what Richard Rohr says about prayer in "The Naked Now": "Prayer is actually setting out a tuning fork. All you can really do in the spiritual life is get tuned to receive the always present message." When I first read that it really helped me see prayer in a new light. The trick, however, is to pray "unceasingly." We have to be reminded. Thanks for turning our attention to our tuning forks!

    1. I love the tuning forks image--thanks for sharing it Nick

  2. I've had two experiences like that both in the desert in 1970. While driving across the Mohave during mid day it was stifling. But we passed a strip of land where it had rained and there in the strip it was sweet and fresh and the temp had dropped quite a bit too.

    Another time happened in the desert not sure which desert it was right after the sun had disappeared. There was an overwhelming sweet fragrance which filled the air, almost to the point of being too much. I assumed the scent came from flowers.

    I have never forgotten those experiences.

    1. Maybe you were smelling the fragrance of "God"