01 Apr Paying Attention
It’s early yet, but signs of seasonal transition are around us. As I write, we are just a few days into the official turning of spring and, honestly, the landscape doesn’t look much different from when it was still officially winter. But there is something about the angle of the sun in the sky which our bodies know. The recognition of the subtle changes of the earth and sky are carried in our bodies and in our memories. Looking outside my window, I find my heart smiling. My body knows that spring is here and is coming. What is now merely latent will be fully present in a matter of weeks.
Jesus made a similar observation near the end of his life. In talking about the spiritual significance of the times in which he lived, he said. “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near.” (Mark 13:28). That’s the parable. On the mental level, it’s not a particularly impressive teaching. But from the level of our more subtle and spiritually attuned selves, it puts us in touch with the miraculous.
How do our bodies know what they know? How do the subtle signs of creation penetrate our awareness? We are animals and when we listen to our animal intelligence, an aspect of the miraculous becomes available to us. How do animals navigate the changes of the seasons with remarkable knowing, but a knowing outside of the mental-rational? Our bodies carry great intelligence, as does all of nature.
Jesus makes the point that our subtle, animal knowing capacity is similar to our spiritual capacity for knowing, seeing and understanding the significance of our times. And he challenged us to truly pay attention to all that we can know and see. There is guidance and assistance coming to us all of the time from the subtle spiritual realm. We find the same guidance and assistance spelled out for us in black and white on the pages of Scripture. He was trying to remind us to wake up our knowing capacities.
When we take this simple teaching seriously, we find our capacity for faith strengthened. Our minds are powerful, but limited tools of knowing. When they dominate and exclude our other faculties, then doubt easily takes over. For our minds can only see so much. They only see direct causation. They only see the external dimension. They cannot see what is going on in the heart, in the spiritual realm, or in the invisible movements of God’s Spirit. But something in us can see and know what God’s Spirit is about. Something in us can sense that there is reason for hope, even when we can’t see it. This is the knowing of faith and it is no less real than the knowing of the mind or the knowing of our bodies.
“Learn the parable from the fig tree,” said Jesus. What a simple way of saying, “Pay attention. You know more than you know. There is part of you that is intimately connected to God. Learn to listen and trust.” And most importantly, we are called to align our lives with the Living Presence of Christ, who is the life energy of all life, the true heart of all hearts. Happy Easter! See you in church!