My final four pointers to the divine, do not clinch the argument. But, they pry open my heart another inch and enable a few more tiny shards of light to penetrate the darkness.
6. Pain. As I look at the lives of people with whom I have interacted through the years, I see in many cases such agonizing pain and brokenness, that it is almost unimaginable they should have been able to continue in the journey of life. As I look at the terrors and the horrors of human history, the miracle of the human species emerges as a testimony to a power vastly greater than human reason or even biological necessity could ever encompass.
How is it that in the midst of the fractured reality of human experience, we have survived? How is it that in the face of injustice, violence, abuse, wrong, hatred, anger, terror, again and again, human beings have found within themselves the ability to return with forgiveness and hope to the enterprise of being together in communion with other human beings? I cannot convince myself that the grace and mercy so often manifest in the midst of the desperation that has characterized so much of human experience, is merely a function of the power of positive thinking, or the self-serving desire of our species just to survive for one more day.
I have never been able to understand why the reality of suffering should convince anyone that there can be no such thing as a benevolent force commonly called “God” at the centre of existence. For me the impact has been exactly the opposite. As I stand at the edge of a grave into which we lower the physical remains of a tortured soul who has committed suicide, my heart can only open with a longing that nothing but realms unseen could ever ultimately satisfy.
As I contemplate the unimaginable horrors of human history, I am driven, not to cynicism and despair but to hope and light.
7. Questions. This cuts both ways. For some people, the fact that there are questions that simply cannot be resolved with an easy answer, is proof that there are no answers. For me, the complicated conundrums of life have always felt like a call from beyond the material realm to embrace a greater reality. The fact that I so often simply fail to understand so much of life, causes my heart to open to the possibility that there may be a wisdom beyond my own.
Over the years, the questions that once tortured me have begun to become a source of light and freshness. I see now in the unanswerable questions of my life, an indication of the limitations of human reason. For me, the more I am able to hold the unresolved tensions, the more I find my heart opening to a deeper and fuller reality. The puzzles of life are like fingers pointing to the moon. I do not stop at the finger determined to analyze it and figure it out. I allow the finger to point me to the beauty and mystery of being that is deeper than my imperfect comprehension.
8. Jesus. I almost hesitate to bring this up. So much nonsense has been promulgated in the name of Jesus. There has been such terrible abuse perpetrated upon so many by those who claim Jesus as their leader and their teacher. But, I cannot escape the reality that in the stories about and the teachings of this man named Jesus, I find a power and a depth that will not let me go.
As I ponder the life and wisdom of this man who lived 2,000 years ago, he seems in my heart to live and speak still. I see in him the force and power of love and the more I contemplate his reality, the more that love seems to permeate my being. He is my teacher and my guide. I seek to live in obedience to his deep wisdom and to trust daily in his presence.
9. Silence. I am a meditator. At least twice a day for the past fifteen years, I have sat for twenty minutes with my eyes closed in complete silence. As I sit, I am not trying to accomplish anything; I am not trying to get anywhere. I simply intend in my sitting to surrender my thoughts and return to silence.
In those years of quiet, I have found an unmistakable reality beginning to permeate the hours of my days. Mystery haunts the edges of my consciousness. My heart opens to realms of reality that are only vaguely perceptible to my consciousness. I find my life is shaped from within by a force that I perceive is not a product of my will. The space within me grows and, as it grows, so does my consciousness of another reality.
Like all the other pointers to divinity in my life, silence is ineffable. It does not achieve anything measurable or quantifiable. It operates in a realm that transcends the narrow confines of human language. It always points beyond itself to the outer edges of human consciousness.
In the end, all nine pointers leave me needing to decide. None of them alone constitutes irrefutable proof of anything. Even taken all together they do not amount to an argument that demands agreement.
Proof is not available in the territory of the divine. My pointers can only lead me to the place where I confront the need to make a decision. At this deciding point, I find myself compelled to step into the unknown, not with fear and anxiety, but with a calm assurance that, in this open space, I am not alone. I have not been abandoned. The centre of existence is not an empty, chaotic, meaningless void. I find in this open space a presence that seems to have an interest in my well-being and in the well-being of all creation.
As my heart opens, I encounter a presence that speaks to me. When I follow this voice, I seem more often to come to a place that is strong and deep. I find my soul thrives when I open to this depth.