Were I to teach a course on God I would begin with a plate of persimmons – the sweet, crisp kind, the ones more orange than red; the hard, squat Fuyus I eat each November morning on hot wheat cereal with almonds.
I would slice the persimmons gently across their fat centers, then hold them out. See the star shape? I would offer them, so all might wonder.
I would slice brown Bosc pears straight down their middles, so the threads of each stem trace wisply down to that rounded place where dark seeds lie, tear-shaped and wet in white, firm flesh. I would hold these halves silently forward, their bottoms smooth in the curves of my palms.
I would teach God with plates of pomegranates, both before they were opened and after. I would bring wet washcloths. We would bury our faces and eat; all that luminescent purple-red, those clear-bright kernels fitted in tight rows on small and tumbling hills – and all that juice, so easily broken, sweet and pucker at once. We would say nothing.
I would teach this way; with plates of fruit, a knife; many washcloths. With my eyes very large; my mouth mostly silent, so all might eat.
...I love these words, they speak to that special place deep down in the soul of me...Been singing in my soul for some time now...If you want to know about God you have to delve into life and just taste those sweet juices in the messiness of life...you will love it...I do...
Life has so much to teach us if we would just be awake to it, we just need to have our senses open to it. We just need to be here now. Not waste our time wishing we were here, but actually be here bringing this moment fully to life; wanting what we have and not wasting our time wishing we were some place else or living some other life; not wasting our time like the character in the film “Postcards from the Edge”, based on Carrie Fisher's semi-autobiographical book about an alcoholic Hollywood star, who sends a card home while on holiday that read “Having a wonderful time. Wish I were here.”
I think it was Bill Darlison who claimed that if we wish to live life more spiritually we need to increase our sensitivity to life. I believe that if we do we will know experiences beyond our imaginings and life will become our constant teacher. We will grow in deeper understanding and most importantly we will become more effective in our daily living and truly become of service to life and those we meet in life. Certainly this is the lesson life has taught me.
Life is the greatest teacher of them all and we as a part of life can teach just by our presence in this world. People have taught me many things, in so many ways without ever really realising it. I have often only realised those lessons many years later. Lessons I have tried to pass on to others. I remember many years ago my grandma once saying to me “Why do you always say you are sorry, when you don’t really mean it.” I remember at the time going silent and taking it deeply into myself. It was only many years later when I understood what she meant. I used to say sorry all the time not because I was genuinely sorry for what I had done and had the intention not to do it again. No I used to say the word “sorry” as a way of controlling the potential anger of another. It had little or nothing to do with putting right what was wrong. The truth is that I didn’t really mean it at the time. A lesson it took me many years to learn.
This truly opened me up to people in way I had never been before; it brought me alive to life in ways I had never been before. Now of course not all the great sages come from Oldham. Those of ancient times taught similar lessons to this ordinary man. That said I am not sure that I could have accessed what they taught eleven or so years ago. It required simple language from an ordinary man. He spoke the language of the heart and I was prepared to listen. I learnt a valuable lesson that day; I learnt that the language of the heart is universal, it can break down any barrier. Those simple words opened me to experiences I never knew were possible. Those experiences opened my senses, particularly my ears, I finally had ears that could hear and I began to finally hear so much more than mere words.
All this speaks to me of the nature of God. My understanding of God is a kind of panentheistic one, not pantheistic, panentheistic. For me there is this something more than everything, that is present in everything and yet somehow more than everything, that is both transcendent and imminent. That said this sense, this spirit, does not control everything, but does communicate through everything. I experience what I would describe as some kind of universal will calling life to be in harmony with it. Calling always calling, what I have heard described as “The Lure of Divine Love”, which I have come to believe communicates through all life and I have discovered that the more awake and open to life I am the more I have a sense that it is communicating with me. When my senses are fully open and awake I feel that life is constantly communicating with me.
I hear this in the words of one of my favourite hymns “God speaks to us in bird and song, in winds that drift the clouds along, above the din of toil and wrong, a melody of love." Something that is echoed in the following beautiful words from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself”:
I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God not in the least,
Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than myself.
Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then,
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass,
I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is sign'd
by God's name,
And I leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoe'er I go,
Others will punctually come for ever and ever.
Everything, all life can be our teacher if we are open to it. If we have ears that can hear, if all our senses are awake to everything and that something or perhaps nothing that is are the core of everything and yet beyond everything.
Listen you have ears that can hear. Listen life is speaking to you. You can open yourself to it and if you do it will begin to speak to you and through you.
I’m going to end this little chip of a "blogspot" with these words of wisdom by Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro, from “Wisdom of the Jewish Sages.”