As I continue to read and think about ‘The Story of a Soul,” I came across this 2nd quote above which again made me sit the book down and think a bit. (The first time it was with an example of tenderness.)
Now I know many, if not most, of my friends cringe with the G word. Often, I do too. I view it as more of a placeholder for what can’t really be expressed in human language. The word ‘God’ is often used as a limiter. It transforms the infinite into the finite so we can create God in our image. Excuse my vulgarity, as you often have to do, but this kind of defining of God is where things can go to shit in a hurry.
Still, once I am aware of the downsides, I can also appreciate the convenience of the G word.
There have been times in my life when incidents and accidents have stripped away my masks and made me simple. Other times I have become simplified as I saw a glorious sunrise or a beautiful sunset. I have been made simple with the birth of my children and the always forgiving love of my wife, dear family, and friends. I have been made simple with the heartache of loss. Songs, flowers, pets, and watching spring blossoms turn into summer fruit are also portals into simplicity for me. Witnessing personal sacrifice done simply for a love of a person or people can rip my ego mask off so quickly it brings tears to my eyes.
In all of the examples I shared and many others, I have always experienced a sense of God with them. In a song I wrote once, I called it “Spirit Lover.” This presence comes with a sense of timelessness, just the present moment, as if eternity is right there, not stretched through space and time, but right … there… all of it. And, suddenly life seems simple too and then gratitude is what I feel next, along with a sense of awe. Someone once called it “Amazing Grace.” I think my Buddhist friends and teachers have other names for it too, perhaps even calling it Enlightenment.
I told a story about my father at the celebration of his life, a few years ago. It kind of went like this:
“One day I walked by my father’s opened closet and I was struck by how few clothes he had. Hanging in the back was his one and only coat. Now, I have many coats, jackets and windbreakers. I like to be prepared for all possible climates and weather possibilities. It might be raining, but not too cold. Or, maybe it is cold and windy, but dry. Or, maybe I need a coat with hood attached to it. I have coats for every possibility of weather and activity. But, Dad, but Dad believed in keeping it simple. A man only needs one coat. Any others that come his way, he should share with someone who needs a coat.”
Now I realize that in my father’s simplicity he actually was growing closer to God. Actually, it was in the tradition of the saints. Simplicity and Saints.