Recently I was gifted something truly beautiful by a dear friend of mine. I was to undertake a three day meditation workshop through an incredible non-profit organization, The Art of Living. All expenses covered. The only thing my friend asked in return was for my commitment. So fair enough.
It had been a stressful time for me, and my first encounter with meditation that Friday evening was to prove rather arduous and emotional to say the least. Teary-eyed and exhausted. But as I’d promised my friend, I was committed. And I resolved that come the next day, I would feel better and things could only get easier. I’m glad to say they did. With each practice, I felt lighter, and the laughter had returned. By the third and final session, I was beginning to feel like myself again, full of love and hope and the joys of being a human bean. A faith in humanity revived.
All things said and done, our meditation guide, the masterful Mukesh, went around the room asking that we share in our experience of the course, what it had meant to us. When it came to my turn, I wanted to be honest, and to speak from the heart, all the while keeping that stiff upper lip in check. (So no crying, Jocelyn.) But as I began to share in my experience, the lip began to quiver, and my eyes well up with tears as I fought to keep my voice steadied.
I told them that I was, and had always been, my grandpappy’s child. A pious man, if ever there were. Growing up, while my gran busied herself with the necessary, him and I spoke for hours, about books, philosophy, music, and of course, what it meant to be a good person in the eyes of God. He didn’t preach. There was no need. He was the embodiment of practice makes perfect. Every day, he was patient with me. Every day, he treated each person who came to his door with dignity. Be they bedraggled and down on their luck, or suited to the nines. It mattered not to him.
When I had my manic episode, I was overwhelmed by the presence of the divine. It was as if the universe split wide open and welcomed me into its fold. This is not uncommon. In psychology circles, it is often referred to as a messianic complex… This sense of being so wholly formed in the image of God. Later, on my meds, I resolved to become a reluctant atheist, terrified that any sense of the divine was a sign of yet another descent into madness.
But the gift of this meditation workshop had come at the right time you see… Slowly but surely, over the years, unwittingly I had been seeing, feeling, God in all things. I would water a plant, only to see it bounce back to life. I would spend an afternoon, before the rains, watching swallows dance in the skies above, incredulous at their beauty. I would offer a homeless friend in my neighbourhood a hot meal and feel, in my heart, that our paths were destined to cross. But I hadn’t been able to admit it until that fated weekend. And now, I was once again my grandpappy’s child.
I was embarrassed to have cried so openly in a room full of newly made friends. Like I’d let myself down. But then I noticed a woman nearby wiping tears away from her own eyes, and in that moment, everything was a-okay. Since that day, I have no longer felt embarrassed by my tears, or by my capacity to love and care and feel divine. It’s as Ian S. Thomas said… We are not stuck in traffic, we are the traffic.
And as my favourite columnist, Lev David, once remarked, are those toting their copies of The God Delusion any better than self-righteous fear-mongerers bearing arms with their Bibles? Now is not the time for ‘divide and conquer’. It is a time to come together, Beatles style!
I guess, in the end, I think it’s like this… A rich spiritual life? This does not monsters make. The business of monster-making, my friends, is on mankind. And only love can save us now.