Saturday, 2 May 2015

Cherry Blossom: With Eyes Wide Open

I was sat in my vestry, chatting with a friend over “spiritual” matters, the other day. During the conversation we talked about how we see things, about perspective and how the world can appear as if it has changed, even though it hasn’t physically done so; that life is not just about what we see, but how we see things. Just before we walked outside together I turned and quoted the following “Scales of pride and prejudice fell from my eyes. A new world came into view.”

Well as we walked out of the vestry a new world truly did come into view. I noticed the cherry blossom tree in full bloom in the gardens at Dunham Road Unitarian Chapel, Altrincham. It is a beautiful sight the cherry blossom in full bloom. I took some pictures of the tree and sent them to friends, I also posted them on facebook. My word it received some wonderful responses.

Over the next twenty four hours I and a friend kept on posting pictures of the cherry blossom we saw all around us. I suggested that we play a game as we went about our daily business. The game involved paying homage to each tree that we passed and when we could to stop and take pictures and share them with each other.

Wow! What a wonderful experience! It helped me to open up and connect to all I was doing that day, as it did my friend. There was an ever increasing sense of loving connection as we travelled from one place to another. Our senses were on high alert, our eyes were wide open.

When I got home, that evening, there were several other responses to the cherry blossom experiences. One old mate wrote “One of my favourite sights of all the seasons is cherry blossoms. Makes me feel fluttery in the stomach. Bit like the feeling when you are first falling in love. I look forward to it every year.”

I understood exactly what he was saying I had been experiencing the very same sensation all day. It had felt like I was falling in love all day long. I was in a way, I was falling in love with life once again as I was fully engaged with that day; I was fully engaging and sharing with others in this same awakening. There was also a growing sense of a power greater than ourselves rushing through all of this, Universal Love, perhaps the greatest of God’s many names. This was more than just spirituality, this was a religious experience, as it had brought all of us closer to one another, we were bound up and connected through it all. We all grew from the experience. I went to bed that night with my jaws aching, I had been smiling that much.

Is there a more beautiful sight in the world than the cherry blossom? Maybe, maybe not...

Cherry Blossom is much loved throughout the world. In Japan the Cherry Blossom tree is not only admired for its beauty, it is revered. Each year the Japanese people come in large groups with their families and friends to view the flowers and to enjoy festivals with food, drink, and music. The significance of the cherry blossom tree in Japanese culture goes back hundreds of years. It represents the fragility and the beauty of life. It is a reminder that life can at times become overwhelmingly beautiful, while at the same time tragically short. The cherry blossom, blooming for a short time each year, is an overpowering visual reminder of the precious fragility of life. So, when Japanese people come together to view the cherry blossom trees and marvel at their beauty, they aren't just thinking about the flowers themselves, but also about the larger meaning and deep cultural tradition of the cherry blossom tree. This is a truly religious experience.

It was so beautiful to engage with this myself the other day and to continue this with others over these last few days and then of course to share it we you who read this "blogspot".

We are all a part of the creative interchange, often unknowingly. The cherry blossom opened my eyes once again and brought me and others to places of deeper connection. I offer thanks and praise for this.

The Cherry Blossom experience opened the eyes of my heart, it brought me, once more, to a new vision...

Life has taught me that how I see the world really depends on where I am at spirituality. I wonder if I have ever seen the world as it really is. Do any of us really? How I see the world seems to be constantly changing. I believe it really matters how we see the world, because how we see the world will affect how we live in the world.

Victoria Safford claims that

“To see, simply to look and to see, is an ethical act and intentional choice; to see, with open eyes is a spiritual practice and thus a risk, for it can open you to ways of knowing the world and loving it that will lead to inevitable consequences. The awakened eye is a conscious eye, a willful eye, and brave, because to see things as they are, each in its own truth, will make you very vulnerable.”

There are many moments in all of our lives when due to a new honesty we come into a new way of seeing the world we are surrounded by. Now this may not be a moment as dramatic as say Saul (who became the apostle Paul) on the road to Damascus. It may just be a subtle change of perspective brought on by a new encounter with nature or another person. There may not be an explanation, sometimes life is inexplicable. It will of course bring with it both challenges and blessings. Seeing the world with open eyes can be a deeply vulnerable experience, but in my eyes it is the only way to truly be alive.

The spiritual life for me is at its essence about increasing our sensitivity to life. It is about opening our senses to all that is.

I truly believe that we have a purpose here. This in many ways is why I am a minister and why I attempt to create and hold the space for others to explore and grow. The communities I serve have a purpose, that purpose is to encourage a search for deeper experience and understanding, that can lead to ever new awakenings, It is not for ourselves alone though. The purpose is to create and hold the space where transformation can occur so that those engaged together can affect the world in which we live in a positive way.

The cherry blossom is with us currently, it is one of the simple beauties of life. That said it will soon fall and be gone for another year. While flowering and falling it teaches us that nothing in life can last forever. Well except for love, love is eternal, love never dies. The love we create and bring to the lives of others lives on the lives we touch.

There is something universal and eternal in the experience that the Cherry Blossom has brought to me and many others these last few days. There was the utter bliss in bowing, blowing kisses and taking pictures as we travelled through our days. It brought great joy and a deeper sense of loving oneness, It also connected us to people all over the world. to past generations and no doubt those who will follow.

There is something eternal in this Love I have shared in these last few days. It has certainly opened my senses, including the sixth one, to something more. It has increased my sensitivity to life and that which is at the core of it all.

I have been in love all week. I have been awakened to a new love for life. I offer thanks and praise for this.

So I say to you reading this little "blogspot" come and join with me and others and enjoy the cherry blossom while it still lasts and let’s share in the love that these simple buds bring and have brought for many generations. Let’s also keep on opening our senses. Let’s keep on opening our eyes, to new vision.

I' m going to end this little chip of a blog with these words by Chief Dan George

The beauty of the trees, the softness of the air, the fragrance of the grass speaks to me.
The summit of the mountain, the thunder of the sky, the rhythm of the sea,
Speaks to me.

The faintness of the stars, the freshness of the morning, the dewdrop on the flower, speaks to me.

The strength of the fire, the taste of salmon, the trail of the sun, and the life that never goes away, they speak to me.

And my heart soars.

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