“There is no separation, no conflict, no obstruction between the world and the Divine. All that exists is penetrated with divinity. Creation, matter, our bodies — everything is a vast incarnation or manifestation of Real Presence”. – Sue Monk Kidd
My dog Benji and I were walking down our street one day last week, heading for home. Ahead of us, I saw what I hoped was a pile of leaves in the middle of the road. As I approached, I realized the leaves were actually a bird, a gray catbird lying prostrate and, I assumed, dead on the pavement.
I stopped to take a closer look at the dead catbird and he blinked. I did a double-take. Did he really blink or was that just wishful thinking on my part? As I continued to watch, he blinked again. He was alive, but barely.
His second blink startled me into action. Benji and I ran home, where I got a box, some clean rags, and my work gloves.
I dashed back to the catbird, pulling on my work gloves. Gently, I picked him up and examined him. There were no obvious injuries, but the bird was certainly in very bad shape.
I cautiously placed him on a bed of rags in the shoebox. If he was going to die, I reasoned, I could at least give him a more comfortable resting place than the hot macadam.
I carried him home and gave him a few drops of water, then placed him in the shade. The next time I checked on him, he was dead.
Sadly, I returned his body to the woods.
The whole incident reminded me of the time I saw a bird die in mid-flight.
I was walking in the woods, looking for birds. A wood thrush flew from the trees on the right side of the trail toward the left side. He never made it. At almost exactly the mid-point of his intended flight, he suddenly dropped out of the air. By the time he landed on the path, he was dead.
I used to be better at seeing things in the air, the insects, birds and dust motes between my eyes and something more substantial, say a maple tree. Now I am more likely to see only the tree and look past everything else.
I miss this ability, mourning all the grasshoppers, dragonflies, and ladybugs I no longer see without a conscious effort. The tiny gnats, fruit flies, and mites who escape my glance are also a source of regret.
Soot, dust and smoke particles in the air are too small to see individually; we see them only in the aggregate. The same for water droplets.
Oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide molecules, and argon atoms are there too, but cannot be seen even with a powerful microscope.
The point is, between me and the maple tree 10 feet away, there exists a lot of matter I don’t see. To me, it looks like a whole lot of nothing.
This “nothing” fills the distance between me and the trunk, then packs the gaps between branches and splits the lobes of the leaves on the maple tree. It is then shot through with light, lambent and buzzing with energy.
Around the imperceptible atoms that make up this “nothing“, electrons are zipping at unimaginably high speeds. At the heart of the atoms, quarks, charmed and strange, move at similar velocities.
The more we learn about these minuscule particles, the more they seem as ephemeral as sunlight. They are composed of energy at their core. There is no “there” there.
The distinction between matter and energy was forever shattered by the French physicist Louis de Broglie, when, over 100 years ago, he postulated that all matter, everything we think of as solid, something with substance and heft, has energy-like properties.
We humans love to categorize. It has served us well, evolutionarily speaking, to put boundaries around concepts- matter on one side of the fence, energy on the other; male and female; black and white; the sacred and the mundane.
The problem is these human-made boundaries are fallible. They often don’t represent reality. We erect solid barriers where no barrier actually exists, or if it does exist, is permeable.
What if there were no barrier between the holy and the secular? How would that change the way we lived our lives? What if every gray catbird, every maple tree, every grasshopper and fruit fly and gnat were made up of the same divine energy? What if every speck of dust in the air, every oxygen molecule, argon atom, and quark were moved by the same numinous power? Would we see things differently?
What if all of us, the misfits, the drunks, the homeless people, the prostitutes, the gay kids too scared to tell their parents, the refugees struggling to find freedom, the unwashed children in detention centers sleeping on concrete floors, the dreamers, the vulnerable, the forgotten, the bullied, the marginalized, all of us were animated by the same divine fire?
We are. Everything, every thing, the chlorophyll molecules in the maple tree’s leaves, the chitin covering the grasshopper, the hemoglobin coursing through the gray catbird’s veins, and every atom that makes up every cell of your body is made of infinitesimally small particles which behave like sunbeams, like a consecrated inferno, exploding with holy power.
The ordinary is imbued with the sacred.
The next time I see the light in another’s eyes I will remember this: I am looking at the light from the Holy Spirit. When I meet people who do not look like me, or prepare food the same way I do, or pray to the same God as me, I will think: Divine Energy. When I see the drug-addicted, the mentally ill, the downtrodden, the frightened, those individuals who have been left behind, left out, and trampled, I will recall: Sacred Force.
We are all made up of the same thing at our core.
“We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body. It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink.“ 1 Corinthians 12:13
I am linking up with Amy at Live Life Well, Embracing the Unexpected for Grace and Truth, Counting My Blessings for Faith ‘n Friends, Morgan’s Milieu for Post, Comment, Love, Raisie Bay for Word of the Week, Susan B Mead for Dancing With Jesus, Abounding Grace for Gracefull Tuesday, Purposeful Faith for RaRa, Anchored Abode for Anchored Truth Tuesdays, Mary Geisen Tell His Story, InstaEncouragements, and Lyli Dunbar for Faith on Fire.