Last week I reflected upon the importance of photographs and how they can act as windows into the past to remind us or evoke within us the memory and deep emotions that can accompany an event.
I would like to continue with this theme albeit from a different angle.
As a graduate student of theology at Boston University my work focused on the Buddhist, Islamic and Christian traditions. One of the many questions I explored was the apparent fickleness of the Divine.
Fundamental to most religious traditions is the idea of the imminence of the Godhead or Divine. Most religious traditions have advice on practice and/or ritual that allows one to experience immediate presence of the Divine.
There have been occasions in my life when I have in and through these practices/rituals had an experience of that imminence. As powerful as they might be they are also somewhat fleeting. And, occasional. That is, one can engage the same practice and ritual many many times and not have the experience repeated. They seem to be random in their occurrence.
This leads to the question of why are such experiences not normative. Why are they the exception if the Divine is to be found braided throughout the creation?
I think there are many ways to answer this question but I offer this: that we can have such experiences, even if on occasion, is to be seen as a gift on the journey of life.
Such gifts might occur several times over the course of a life, but each one is to be held as an icon – that is, a window, a mental and experiential photograph that allows us to return to the depth of the experience when we look into and through that window.
A photograph for the soul where we can recount the feeling of unity and love that was experienced in such encounters.
And, we hold onto them until the next experience occurs. We are to hold them as windows that allow us to enter back into the experience of the Divine until it happens again. These are the windows that can sustain us along the journey of life.
Isn’t this the reality of life’s journey and human experience? Even without a practice or ritual there are times in our journey of life that we have the experience of feeling divine, being divine, feeling that there is purpose and meaning, that we have worth and value to the universe. On such occasions we are united to the Universe in ways we don’t fully understand. It is mystical and the unity that is experienced approaches miraculous.
And then the next day we get on Bart and wonder how we could have ever felt that way and why the fellow next to me will not move his *&%**[email protected] backpack.
But, that gift…is gift that belongs to you.
Hold onto it so that as you await for it to happen again you might be sustained by entering through the window of this mental/emotional/soulful photograph and be reminded of your value to the created order even while riding Bart.
I say all this because many of our mentors have shared with me wonderful and beautiful moments that you have had with your youth. Moments when you have experienced a deep connection, a moment of the miraculous. Only on the next outing to be greeted by an anxious triggered young person, and therefore the relationship seems anxious and the experience of the week prior to be questioned.
Your time as a mentor is a journey. And there will be the miraculous. And when the miraculous occurs it is worth taking a mental/emotional/soulful picture as a team and hanging on to it because it will serve as a window back into that moment of connection and profound.