Ever walked into a room and felt that there had just been a big fight or joyous celebration? Perhaps you are one of those that can “take the temperature” in a room quickly without even knowing what has happened. There are some who claim that when a world event has happened, they wake in the night not knowing what but somehow knowing. If you ever lost a loved one, you may know the feeling that comes up in you that something is not right; then you get the call. Not psychic powers, so much as a deep connection that transcends space and time.
Scientific studies have proven again and again that there is some kind of energy, knowing, and connection that exists beyond the measurement of five senses. Even the live cultures in yogurt respond to human thought, or at least that’s the plot of Tom Shadyak’s movie “I Am.” Okay, so perhaps our connections are not that simple. Yet, surely many of us, not all, but many have felt a moment of transcendence when something beyond us, yet not fully in our grasp, connects to us. These are the “awe” moments. Fleeting moments of knowing we are connected and held beyond measure are often seen as the litmus test of spirituality.
Some people spend a lifetime trying to live only in these “awe” moments.
Yet, we know the great sages spent most of their life between moments of transcendence. Mother Theresa spent years without any sense of the sacred in her life. I wonder if Emerson or Thoreau spent days in the woods where they wandered without any immense feeling of self-reliance or wisdom unfolding. I am sure even the Buddha had days of un-enlightenment.
Perhaps the secret, if there is one, to spiritual peace and contentment is not in seeking transcendence but learning how to live in the unpredictable presence of transcendence. We are called to cultivate satisfaction in the days without sacred space and yet be ever willing to embrace the breezes of mystery and wonder that come through our lives. It certainly means acceptance of the ordinary days.
We are called to be worshipers, always considering what is of worth, training our eyes to see the sacred, our ears to hear it, our mouths to taste it, our noses to smell it, our hands to touch it. We are called to be wanderers, walking in the great absence of “awe”, seeking more than finding, and yet willing when transcendence comes to let it in. Only then, somewhere between pure moments of peace and the hard streets of concrete and schedules, can we know the great contentment of the sages.