Beholding a Trace of Divinity
Wild strawberries. We found these berries while walking down an old stone-pocked trail on a mountain side in British Columbia, Canada. We had stopped for a break at a roadside rest area on our way to my brother’s home; and while stretching our legs, we found the trail that looked inviting. There was no plan for talking a long hike at the moment, but that didn’t stop us from following the trail that had appeared inviting us to follow. As the trail zigzagged down the mountain side, I stopped frequently to take photos of flowers, of the snow-capped mountains peering above the break in the tree line on a straight stretch of trail, and of anything else that caught my eye and attention. I walked without intention; empty of expectation or intention I received so many gifts and felt my being swell with spiritual nourishment. Then it was time to return up the trail and continue on our way to visit my brother and his wife. And all it took, was for me to see, and in turn, to be seen by this universe.
“To be is to be seen, and to be seen is to feel the weight of existence. We need to be seen by our friends and our communities. But we also need to be seen absolutely, to know that our lives are not lived in a vacuum of meaning. . . . that we live in relation to an absolute eye that regards us with interest and affection. It is not impossible for a sophisticated modern man or woman to look into the sky and, in a certain manner, behold angels and a trace of divinity.” [Moore, The Soul’s Religion, pp. 6-7]
“To be seen is to feel the weight of existence.” For me, at this moment and time of my life, the weight of existence is not a heavy weight, but a welcome weight that tells me I am alive and a vital part of the whole. When I unconsciously emptied myself of intention, I was able to see and be seen. At that moment, I realised that regardless of what I do, or don’t do, I am seen whether or not I am aware of being seen.
As I wrote these words, a small scene from my past flickered at the edges, a moment when I was fifteen years old, travelling with my family back to Ottawa from a two-year sojourn in Alberta. We stopped for gas and a quick meal at a cafe-gas station in Nipigon, Ontario. As I stood near the counter waiting for the food order to come, I caught the eyes of a girl near my own age. Two sets of eyes coming into contact affirming the existence of the other. It was one of those moments that Martin Buber talked about in his book I and Thou. We saw each other and for me at least, a heaviness entered. I knew that as our family moved on I was to miss out on something vital, something that would enrich my universe. Less than an hour later our family was back in the car and we travelled on to Ottawa. I knew I had just learned about something important about who I was and of my belonging in a larger universe.
There are many occasions in life that beg us to see and to be seen. Sadly, I don’t always lift my head long enough to disengage from my inner world of ego and thought long enough to see. I know that I am not alone in this, that many pass through years with their heads weighted down with worries, with their eyes shut tight. Like me, they miss the grace of being seen, of being affirmed. Like me, they have filled themselves with worries, plans, busyness, distractions, and addictions – so full that there is no room for being seen, for seeing “angels and a trace of divinity.” There is a way out of this fullness that imprisons our soul’s need for space.
“A first step om spiritual progress is to find the empty place, the hole in the fabric of meaning and culture through which the infinite and mysterious can enter. That emptiness may be a lull in time, a moment of reflection, a day off, or an uninvited reverie. Spatially it may be represented in a broad expanse of land or in an empty chapel or meditation room. Emotionally it may be a painful loss or breakdown. Intellectually it could be an open question, a doubt, or even a new way of thinking.” [p. 8]