Abundance is not in the gathering. Abundance is in the seeing.
Gloria’s note: Thank you for the wonderful comments following Sanctus: Holy Orbs of Light. Soon after posting it, I knew there was more to say. “Undone-ness” set in. I went looking for insight. Insight, by its very definition, already exists, but in need of excavation. Then Hurricane Isaias arrived.
Heard but Unheard
It is hurricane season. Earlier this month, Isaias hammered the east coast with rain and heavy winds. Given advance warnings, we easterners prepare. We stock up on food and we arm our homes with an array of back-up light. Yet, even with various degrees of readiness, it is still a shock when electrical power is lost and all goes dark and stone quiet. TV blanks off, cellphones are mummed, clocks cease to tick, refrigerators stop their constant commotion and we are stunned. More than the loss of light, the lack of mundane background noise, the crush of utter stillness, sits heavily upon us. Obscure sounds once there, now startle us with their absence, leaving us with this paradox: they were heard but unheard.
Seen but Unseen
I wondered if sight is like sound in that respect. It is there, panoramic, in every direction, taken in, inhaled, and observed. But what do we really see? We can arrive to a destination without any recollection of how we got there. We muse in wonderment, ” I don’t recall making those turns.” Researchers have a name for this: situational blindness. It is a failure to see what is in plain sight. In the silence of Hurricane Isaias, this question emerged. What am I seeing but not seeing?
The Prophet of Light
While the storm raged outside, I settled into a darkened muffled world, finally accepting the quiet reprieve. I watched the flame from candles flicker at will. Without noise clutter, I was wrapped in a veil of tranquility. Candlelight dancing freely on my walls, I studied the interplay between light and dark. Senses became acute, more alert, and they echoed me inward, illuminating forgotten inner spaces. Then I thought of Isaiah, not the hurricane of similar name, but the prophet who foretold of the Light to Come if only we had eyes to see.
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. (Isaiah 60:1)
Before his conversion on the road to Damascus, Saul was spiritually blind, seeing but not seeing. Blinded by self-righteousness and a raging adrenalin to hunt down the troublemakers who followed Jesus, he was overtaken by an abundance of light. When he opened his eyes he saw for the first time and Paul was transformed. With almost 200 references, the theme of light is threaded throughout the bible. So is blindness. We learn from the gospels that the disciples did not completely grasp Jesus’ parables and teachings. They heard but they did not hear. They saw but did not see. In Matthew 15:16, Jesus asks, “Are ye yet without understanding?” Another version translates that to “Are you still so dull?” Clearly Jesus wanted them to widen their understandings, to open their ears and eyes to see and hear beyond the words, and to look again. I wonder why the gospel writers gave voice to their own blindness. They could have puffed themselves up, bragging about their insightful understandings from the start. Instead, they chose to show themselves as partially blind. It wasn’t until the resurrection that their eyes fully opened and they understood Christ’s message. What were they saying to us? To me? Are my eyes opened to what I need to see?
Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. (Luke 24:31).
A Time to See
I remember my dad’s last few minutes on this earth. We were told that his departure from this earth could come at any time. We were gathered around his bed, my brother, my daughter, his dear friend Rosalie, and me. We were speaking with him, softly, tending to his needs, anything to comfort him. Sporadically he would ask for ice on his lips. Then he closed his eyes. His right eye was always half closed. We gently gave him permission to go. I told him that his brothers are waiting for him. We listened as his breathing slowed into a labored rattle. We remained by his side waiting for him to drift off peacefully and quietly. We knew death was imminent. In the distance a harpist was playing, “Time to Say Goodbye”. Tears flowed. Then suddenly something changed. Unexpectedly, both of his eyelids flew open. His face once gray and stilled was now animated and bathed in light. An inner flame was ignited. We witnessed this new light and his transformation. With both eyes wide open, he went home.
We are the fires Of the eternal flame Burning bright From one life to the next.*
The Second Light Rule: Look Again
My dad’s eyes opened to the eternal flame. With new light, he saw and he understood. But am I tethered to earthly eyes that do not yet see? Is Jesus lovingly saying to me, “Gloria, my child, why are you so dull?” I now understand that my “undone-ness” is about seeing and yet not seeing. But I can look again, a second time.
Everyday these flaming red roses in my backyard insistently demand my attention. I see the way they coexist with my snowball tree. There were featured in my June 28th post, Solstice: Stand and Recreate Each Other. (See link below.) Once gliding lazily upon the white fence, these roses left their contented idle perch to converge with my snowball tree, symbolizing oneness and unity. And little by little, my un-doneness began to meld into one simple thought.: The Second Light Rule, to look again with spirit-filled eyes.
The Lord said to Abram . . . . “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward.” Genesis 13:14
The Second Light Rule is simply this: to look beyond the mundane, to look beyond what we do not understand, to look beyond our petty grievances, our differences, our kneejerk reactions, our fears, our worries, to see what is in plain sight. Connections. The same flame. Everywhere. In all directions. Second Light allows us to really see goodness that we might readily dismiss. Things we see yet un-see. Our neighbor helping us lift a heavy package. A giggling child. A flower. A driver allowing us the right of way. A smile from a stranger when you need it. A teacher who really saw me. Butterflies.
Light a lamp to goodness. Spiritual light. Our God-sense. It is our back-up light when we go through life’s storms. It is there for the asking.
Open my eyes so that I can see all the wonderful things in your teachings. (Psalm 199:18)
What did I not see? So many regrets. So many missed cues. Blinded by willful ego, I made some choices that caused pain. Looking back, I now wonder why didn’t I stop to ask for God’s help. But I can ask now. When regrets gurgle up like undigested food, I can use Second Light Rule to stop punishing myself. When I look again and I see the disciples as my models. They gave voice to their blindness but were not immobilized by it. They looked again and embraced new light that propelled them forward. Lessons were learned, albeit the hard way, but they were learned.
With an abundance of new light, we can learn.
Abundance is not in the gathering. Abundance is in the seeing.
https://gloriasstories.com/2020/06/28/the-solstice-stand-and-recreate-each-other/https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-eternal-flame/ accessed on 8.14.20https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/1437866-love-and-living accessed on 8.15.20