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Practical Spirituality

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When did
you last go out into the night to gaze at the stars? When did you last take the
time, perhaps lying on an old blanket, supported by the nurturing earth, to do
nothing but look into the darkness–your eyes straining to see further into the
inky black ocean of sky? Nowhere else to be, you breathe easily and softly as
the wind gently washes over your face. What did you observe? Where did that
journey take you?

Like many children, I used to love to go
outside at night and lie under the stars. As kids, some of us were fortunate
enough to be able to have that adventure on a regular basis, and others
remember those moments only as rare gems found on the occasional night walk to
a park or during a weekend camping trip. But the experience is unforgettable.

If I close my eyes, I can still see the
jeweled darkness, patterns and stories scattered across the heavens. I’ve often
wondered who else was looking with me. How many generations before me had also
admired this vast display? Did Jesus Christ walk beneath the same night sky?
Did Buddha or Mohammed? What about Alexander the Great, Queen Elizabeth, Anne
Frank, Lao-tzu, or Steve Biko? Did Galileo help find these stars?

Were the pyramids and the Great Wall of
China built beneath this same moon? Was there a young Aboriginal man somewhere
deep in the wild country of Australia sleeping alone beneath this same night
sky on his first walkabout, his journey into manhood? Did he wait for that moon
to chase away his fears, or did he savor the darkness as the stars surfaced by
the millions? How many stories, births, and deaths took place beneath this
majestic array of lights? And there I was, wondering . . . one more story, one
more set of eyes. Beneath the mystery, I was one more soul pondering what lay
beyond.

No matter how far I looked or how hard I
thought about it, time and space raced on. What
was beyond the stars?
There had to
have been a starting point, and what was before that?
The soaring awareness
was endless, and soon my mind would rest. Below the eternal sky, my thoughts
would grow silent and my heart would open, like the most precious night-blooming
flower. Only during thoughs very rarest moments, something would shift, and
effortlessly, I’d feel an opening within.

It’s hard to put that experience into
words, but if you’ve felt it (and most of us have at one point or another),
then you understand. I glimpsed the solitary nature of my life’s path and the
fragility of my existence. I knew that no matter what my life would show, in
time it would pass and be forgotten. All my suffering and all my triumphs would
eventually vanish into the vastness of time. I am a mere blink in the life of a
star.

In the same moment, however, there was a
deep, deep peace and a profound sense of connection. No matter how
insignificant I might feel as an individual, I am forever a part of something
extraordinary. I share the same air, water, and sky as the highest and lowest
of humanity. My breath is distantly intermingled with the exhalation of the
jungles and great rain forests. My bones and blood are infused with the same
carbon and chemicals found in all the plants, stones, and animals of the earth.
Somehow, beneath the night sky, I knew that everything was and is connected. I
could feel the love that all things emerged from and knew that we are all
ultimately united. Oneness was the feeling. Oneness was the thought.

Those precious moments shaped me in subtle
yet profound ways. The ability to step back and breathe in the grand design of
life has always helped me weather the storms and seasons of change. I’m
reminded not to take things too seriously, to practice humility and the art of
letting go. It’s a lifelong process, but the perspective assists my growth
immeasurably.

Excerpt from Inspiration Deficit Disorder


Photo credit of Heavealie

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