Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The God of Expectant Delight

This charming imp sits in the yard of my friends' wonderful home in Vermont. I love the delight in its face, the happy expectation that whatever happens next is going to be fun: there's a trust here, and an innocence, that I see also in the face of the Dalai Lama, and long to find for myself. And the fact that it's not there yet -- in me, that is -- is my constant reminder that I've not yet reached the fullness of enlightenment.

Due to the play and various family obligations I've missed my last two spirituality classes, and a quick query yesterday reminded me that I'm a bit behind in my reading of Elizabeth Lesser's The Seeker's Guide, our text for this year. And, interestingly enough, one of the passages I read this morning echoes my post from yesterday:

"If we can change the way we see, we can change the way we respond. Meditation changes the way we see and therefore respond to the unavoidable stress in life."

What intrigues me is that it also echoes the chapter I was reading this morning in Richard Rohr's book, The Naked Now, in which he talks about conversion as a matter of changing the way we see. And then, of course, the subtitle of Rohr's book is "Learning to See as the Mystics See."

All of which is intriguing me because I have two roles in this play I've been doing: I am Liza, the children's maid, who is all about love and discipline, and Gabby, the pirates' cook and fiercest member of the gang. As Liza I can wear my glasses -- I have an old rimless pair that are quite appropriate for the period -- but as Gabby I have to wear my contacts. Since it's a fairly quick change and I have to change back to the glasses before the end of the play, I eventually figured out I could get by on one contact, and I've chosen the right one because (since I'm right-handed) it's easier to get in and out.

It's amazingly easy to get around backstage, even though I'm only seeing out of one eye and have little depth perception, but I've been watching to see if there are any odd shifts in the way I think or act or move. Because by turning off the left eye I am essentially unplugging my right brain -- at least as I understand it -- and therefore, for that brief period of time, changing the way I see; fortunately in a way that is quite consistent with the character I'm playing.

So I was thinking about all this when I was meditating this morning: about how much of my work life was spent doing primarily left-brain work, and how much joy I used to get from engaging my brain in that particular way, organizing complex projects, translating complex concepts into accessible language, managing budgets and people. And yet now I move in an almost entirely right-brain environment, so that people seem genuinely surprised when my left brain appears, all suited up for work. And how does all this left-brain/right-brain stuff affect how I see?

What I do know is that back in those days the religion I was embracing -- though I felt it deeply, and am still moved when I read the sermons I wrote back then -- was still primarily a left-brain concept. God was still "out there, somewhere," a being capable of punishment and retribution, a being who sorted the world into believers and non-believers, good and evil, right and wrong and allowed His followers to do the same. There was good stuff in that religion, but it lived primarily in my head, and didn't seem to have all that much to do with my heart.

And now?

Now I subscribe more to the Gerard Manley Hopkins version of God:

Wild air, world-mothering air,
Nestling me everywhere...
I say that we are wound
With mercy round and round,
As if with air, the same...

And if I were to imagine now a face for such a God, I expect it would look at me with the same delighted expectancy of this imp, as if to say -- as I do in the play, speaking as Liza, both brains engaged -- "Ah, the imaginations of these children, Mum -- what will they think of next!" I'm hoping that with time and meditation I can open more to that divine delight that lives within me, and come to view the world from that same perspective.


Maureen said...

Have you read A Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor?

I love that imp. Just imagine what he sees! said...

Nope, haven't read the book; just saw the video. But I'm sure it's amazing; what did you think of it?