Mechthild of Magdeburg once said, “A fish cannot drown in water; a bird does not fall in air. Each creature God made must live in its own true nature.”
Then that’s what the writers of Genesis meant, is it not? “And God breathed into human nostrils the breath of life, and humans became living beings” (Gen. 2:7).
You cannot know, my friend, just how hard I’ve tried to find God throughout most of my life…to feel God…to know God and, yet, with very little success…no consistency anyway. My spiritual awareness was more like a flashing caution light only with long, unpredictable intervals in between. On occasion the light would flash a fleeting sense of connectedness to Source itself. But it all to quickly disappeared. And, I was never certain when it would come on again. So, like many other churchgoers, I carried a lot of guilt, believing if I only had more faith or were a better follower of Jesus or shared my faith more or whatever it was, I would manage to better control the light – that is, to stay bright with Presence or more connected to God.
I suppose some of you can relate, can’t you?
One day, long after I had all but given up most of the rituals and practices of my faith–which, coincidentally, never seemed to be enough anyway to maintain contact with God–my wife and I were resting at home. It was a Sunday afternoon, in fact,, and I was watching a PBS special on television, beer in one hand, the remote in the other. I had not been to church that morning. In fact, I could not remember the last time I had attended church. Yet, something happened inside of me right then and there that I’ve been mystified about to this day. Since I describe it in The Enoch Factor, there is no need to go into detail here. Suffice to say, however, in an instant my life took a dramatic shift and that statement alone would be an understatement. Everything I had ever believed about God, my life, my relationship to God, my beliefs – what few I had left – all shifted and none have been quite the same since.
When I look back on the afternoon of my spiritual awakening, as I’ve come to label it – and that, too, was several years ago, I realize it was only after I ceased struggling that I began experiencing the very Reality I could only ever seem to feel infrequently and seldom more than momentary.
I awakened on this Sunday afternoon, however, to the most inexplicable peace and joy and, while the intensity has mellowed over the years, neither peace nor joy has ever completely left me since.
So, here’s what I’ve come to know: God cannot be found.
The Spiritual Master Jesus himself made this point. He once told of a man who was walking through a field, not in search of what he did find or, more accurately, stumbled upon but he was simply walking through a field the way I used to take a shortcut through our neighbor’s yard to go to a friend’s house after school. This man in Jesus’ story suddenly, and surprisingly, stepped on a semi-buried treasure. Since the field was for sale, he hurried home, liquidated all of his assets, and all for the purpose of having the sum necessary to buy the land (Matt. 13:44).
This is, more or less, how I found God or, more accurately, how God found me. It IS, more or less, how I suppose many find their spiritual Source. Or, again, more accurately, how Source finds them. You do not find God in a book of religion. Pretty bold statement, isn’t it? Especially, coming from a minister who holds two earned degrees in theology, has spent the greater part of his life studying “the good book,” as folks in the hills of Kentucky still call it, and who used to preach to people almost weekly reminding them, in no uncertain terms, if they were serious about God, they had to come to church every Sunday.
Knowing what I know today, I have many regrets for this madness.
I’ll take it a step further, too. You do not find God in a church, temple, synagogue or mosque. Oh, I suppose She could find you in any of those or a thousand other places. But, my point is this: God cannot be found because God is not lost. She is, as the writers of Genesis tried to communicate, the very breath of life within you.
Can’t get much nearer than that, can you? So, why would you maintain the effort, the struggle, the incessant search for what IS you already?
Today, with each breath we breathe, we inhale, as it were, the very essence of God himself, herself, itself. Whatever God is, that essence…feeling…reality…ineffableness is within you already. Indeed, it IS you already. How could it not be?
Just give your attention to your breathing and see what happens. Ever so often this day, just be aware that when you inhale…as well as exhale…you are the nearest you could ever be to that Presence you have been taught, either intentionally or unintentionally, is out there somewhere…beyond you, above you, and, of course, always ready to judge you.
There is no struggle, however, in knowing God. There are no duties you must perform. No standard you must achieve. No rules you must keep. Just the effortless, natural, rhythm of breathing. Something, by the way, you do not control either. You DO not breathe…not really, anyway. Breathing DOES you. The intelligence within the body doesn’t need your cooperation to do its natural work. In other words, this is the point Mechthild was making, “Each creature God made to live into its own nature.” It is your nature to know…to breathe…to be, God.
Why would you look for who you are? What the church says of Jesus, the church could say…should say of you: You are the incarnation of God.
This is the secret to happiness.