- At the Desert Retreat House -
As I sat in Starbuck’s yesterday my smartphone kept on “pinging” with announcements that I had incoming email or that someone had sent me a text message. So there I sat, drinking my coffee, pecking away at the keyboard, answering the emails, responding to the texts, browsing through my twitter feed - I was living i my own little world. Then, for some reason, something caught my attention and I looked up and looked outside myself and it was then that I realized I was being offered a Divine Revelation.
Sitting at the table right next to me was a young man who was severely disabled. He was unable to lift his arms and so his mom was helping him to drink from a glass of iced tea. The exchange between them was so tender and so intimate that I could barely look at them as the mom patted down her son’s hair, kissed his head and told him how precious he was and how dearly she loved him. I sat there in tears, so grateful to have witnessed such a holy moment - and I almost missed it all because I had been so distracted.
In religious circles, Divine Revelation usually refers to a message from “God” on high revealed to some chosen person, written down in sacred books – Moses received a Divine Revelation on the holy mountain and went on to write it all down in the Bible. It may well be that God spoke to Moses, but “God” also speaks to me and to you.
As I see it “God” is not some distant “man” on high, separate and apart from all of us “down here.” “God” is the universal energy of abiding Love. Everything and everyone is alive with “God,” everything and everyone glows with the Holy Presence. But we are often unaware of that Holy Presence because we live in our own little world, distracted by our own tiny lives.
Yesterday as I sat in a local Starbucks, I looked up from my “self” and looked out from my “self” and I realized that I was standing on a holy mountain as the powerful presence of Holy Love was manifested to me in the tender touch of a mother who so deeply loved her son. It was indeed a Divine Revelation.
There is a little story that comes out of the writings of the ancient, 4th century Christian Desert Monks:
A young monk approached his wise old mentor
and told him, ‘I say my prayers, do my assigned work
and read the scriptures every day.
What should I do next to deepen my relationship with God?’
The old monk responded,
‘Go sit in your cell and your cell will teach you everything.’
The old monk wasn’t telling the young novice to retreat back to his room and hide away from everything. He was telling him to pay attention to everything and to everyone in the routine happenings of his ordinary life. He was telling him to look up from his own tiny life and look out, awake and aware in every moment. This is where he will encounter the “God” he desires.
People often look for “God” by going to church, by reading the Bible, by engaging in a devoted time of quiet meditation, and indeed “God” can be found in all these places. But I also think “God” can be encountered in the local Starbucks, or at work or at school. If we pay attention and keep focused, all sorts of Divine Revelations are available to us.
I remember reading something in one of my Buddhist magazines:
Whatever we are looking for is already right here.
We are usually elsewhere, that’s the problem.