Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Keeping it all in focus

There was a small pond across from the dining hall at the retreat center last weekend, and we were all astonished to discover that there were fish surviving in the pond despite the cold weather.

I attempted to photograph them several times, but was never quite able to get the photograph I wanted: there were just too many dimensions -- the branches above, the surface of the water, which reflected the sky and trees above the branches, and the fish below -- and there seemed to be no way I could get everything in focus.

... and isn't that a wonderful metaphor for the challenge of living a spiritual life? I want so much to live consciously, to be attentive to the moment, to the call of the divine, to the needs of those around me, to my body, to the spirit within my body, and to the challenges of daily living. But I just can't seem to keep everything in focus.

If I attempt to focus on that within me, I find on closer examination that I'm really only seeing the surface -- and even that is just a reflection of my surroundings; what lies beneath is still pretty fuzzy. And if I get too caught up in trying to see down into it, I risk bumping my head against the reality right in front of me.

Perhaps it is only God who can percieve all these dimensions with clarity. And if we were not caught on that awkward precipice between human and divine, we might not be spending so much energy trying to encompass it all, but be content to just swim happily in our little ponds, our only job to stay fed, to avoid the hungry herons and raccoons, and to nestle down into the warm mud on cold days.

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