Miracle Earth

Stop for a minute and consider where you are. You, along with billions of other living beings, live on a planet that rotates around a giant ball of fire at exactly the distance that allows for life to occur on it. Other planets circling the same fiery ball are not positioned so that life as we know it can be sustained. On Earth, the greens of the land and the blues of the oceans arise from the perfect blending of temperature and light. The lengths of the days and nights and the seasonal changes unfold seamlessly. That in itself is a miracle. Each day we take morning, afternoon, and night for granted. We take the warmth of the sun for granted. We take the air that we breathe for granted. Yet all of it is miraculous.

And fragile. We are repeatedly counseled to care for this Earth with tenderness, as if she were our Mother. As she is. Without her (and Father Sun), we would not exist. This small blue and green marble in the midst of millions of galaxies and universes is unique. A tiny cell in the cosmos. An expression of universal consciousness, as are each of us who live here. Is this not a miracle to keep us in awe for the rest of our days here on Earth?

Sometimes I imagine myself floating among the stars, multiverses stretching in every direction beyond my ability to even fully conceive of them. I picture myself part of an infinite tapestry of light and beingness. Eternity unleashed. Such an imagined vision used to frighten me—and at times still does. Yet, more and more, I feel the miraculous beauty of it, and I am filled with peace. Peace beyond understanding or definition. I experienced such boundless peace in the recovery room after breast cancer surgery two years ago; I felt myself held by a Presence that both calmed and comforted me.  Ever since, it seems not that far away. If I allow that awareness to arise from soul memory, then everything shines with that grace, that divine peace, that miracle. There is nothing else.

If you open your heart wide enough (or it is cracked open by circumstance), you will be gifted with your own version of the miraculous, and it will never leave you. Each one of us on this planet is destined to receive this wonder: an entire universe present in every seemingly small detail of our expansive, infinitely unfolding lives.

And you don’t have to go through surgery to experience it! Take a walk through the spring woods, look up at the starry night sky, watch the brilliant colors of a sunset, or share a sacred moment of connection with a loved one. It’s all there, right before you, 24/7. Spirit finds you at just the right moment in your life and opens the door wide. You were born on planet Earth to be part of the miracle.

Appearing Nightly

What we have named God, or Spirit, lives on planet Earth in billions of human, animal, and plant forms. God appears nightly, and daily, everywhere we look, inside and out. There is nothing that is not an expression of Spirit in this world. Yet we often question her/his/its existence, especially in today’s conflict-ridden world, and repeatedly fail to recognize the divine light within ourselves. If we are spiritual or religious, we may think we have to do something to be enlightened or blessed. We see ourselves as falling short of divinity, of worthiness for blessings. And we also judge others for what we have been taught are their failings.

What if there are no failings, no impossible tasks that we have to achieve in order to be blessed by Spirit? What if we were born blessed, full of the light of God/dess, which can never be extinguished? What if everyone and everything we see on this planet is part of an intricate design of becoming, which we can only see a small portion of in our individual lives? And what if we are now living through a time in which our inner awareness opens wider and wider until we can see enough of that design to recognize it everywhere—most of all within our own hearts?

We did not come here to live and die as tarnished, imperfect, self-hating human beings. We came here as God to experience God in ourselves and all things. To realize there is no such thing as imperfection. Each of us is living out the perfect design that we decided on, with Spirit, before birth—so that we may grow and evolve, along with all living beings. We are not separate from one another. We are one another, because within Spirit, all is oneness. It lives as us and every other animate and inanimate form on Earth, each a divine expression of beingness. When we fully realize this on every level, the separations and conflicts now so prevalent on Earth will dissolve.

I’ve always had a “utopian” vision of a future world where people share responsibilities and decisions in a peaceful, circular way with no leaders or followers, no roles or hierarchy, no guns or war. All abundance shared. Creative expression encouraged and supported. Loving-kindness, compassion, and heart-centered interactions as natural as breathing because everyone sees one another as family, not “other.” Over the years, I’ve come to believe that we all have a similar vision deep inside us. We were born enlightened, with the light of God present within us as our soul. Our soul knows the overview of our life journey and is always guiding us toward more understanding and expression of our light in the world.

We have learned how to survive as individual identities in a world that doesn’t currently support soul expression, but there is an awakening occurring now on the planet. We are bridges from the old paradigm into the new as we become increasingly aware of the light within us and express it more fully in the world. We are each opening to this vision in our own way, and no one way is better than others. We will eventually realize that there is nowhere to go and nothing to attain–it’s all within us already. God is always here, day or night, 24/7. Adyashanti: “You are seeking God with [God’s] eyes.”

Do You Plan?

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”—John Lennon

I love that quote because it is so true, so human. Many of us have been, or are, planners to one extent or another—myself included. From an early age (at least in Western cultures), we are conditioned to believe we can somehow shape our future by making lists and detailed plans. When these plans do not work out, we may feel we have failed somehow, but it doesn’t stop us from making a new plan. “Practice makes perfect.” We think that if we keep reshaping our plans, they will eventually work out exactly as we wanted. Well, sometimes yes, sometimes no.

In truth, we are trying to control something beyond our control. The design for your life was put in place at the soul level before you were born. Your soul and Spirit came up with a flexible vision for your life that self-adjusts on its own without any directed effort from you as an incarnated human. There is a natural flow to all our lives, to our collective life, on this planet, and only when we accept and surrender to that do we begin to flow too. Letting go of over-planning is part of that.

The only “plan” that really works is a simple one that just aligns you with your soul’s guidance. “Let go and let God,” as the saying goes. Life has its own wisdom, which often is a mystery to us—until we allow everything to unfold as is without trying to force it. Then the mysteries and magic begin to reveal themselves. Synchronicity arises; miracles occur. Small pieces of the cosmic grand puzzle become visible. And the more you let go, the more you see.

Of course, you will never see it all because that is the nature of infinity. However, when you realize you are part of that infinite flow yourself, no matter what you do or don’t do, then trust begins to guide you. We don’t need to plan every detail (or harbor regrets). Life is just happening on its own, and with a greater openness, complexity, and wonder than we could create alone. Perhaps this is the most powerful lesson we will learn in our lifetimes: Trust that all is well, whatever it may look like. Over time, this truth is revealed, again and again.

Something greater is at play in your life and mine, in all of life. No matter how you or I think things should occur, they will follow their own course—the course of the soul’s design and God’s. You may only see the absolute perfection of that at the end of this lifetime, but if you release your hold on mental to-do lists and the need for certainty, then you begin to experience every single moment as perfect just the way it is. Those “other plans” will fall away, and you will be left with the wondrous life you were always meant to live.

Discovering Ann Patchett

I have been an avid reader all my life, from Charlotte’s Web, Anne of Green Gables, and Little Women in childhood through classic and contemporary literature in high school and college. I loved the Transcendentalists, especially Thoreau and Emerson, and that set me on a course of looking for the meaning of life through the books I read, as well as writing about it.

When I was in graduate school, the feminist movement was reaching its apex, and for many years I read mainly women writers, including Alice Walker, Toni Cade Bambara, Virginia Woolf, Doris Lessing, Simone de Beauvoir, Emma Goldman, Rosario Morales, Toni Morrison, Louise Erdrich, Barbara Kingsolver, and so many others. I was part of a Boston-area women’s collective that researched out-of-print authors and wrote and published an annotated bibliography of women’s literature, past and present.

Over time, my interest in exploring life’s meaning became as compelling as feminism, and I began to focus on spiritual authors such as Thich Nhat Hanh, Adyashanti, Brooke Medicine Eagle, Gregg Braden, Yogananda, Sharon Salzberg, Sonia Choquette, Eckhart Tolle, Michael Singer, and Panache Desai. I had many profound experiences at retreats and immersions that expanded my awareness and understanding of life. Eventually I began to write my own books and a blog. In recent years, I have been writing more than reading. Then I discovered Ann Patchett.

About ten years ago, a friend enthusiastically and repeatedly recommended Ann’s books to me. At the time I was ensconced in spirituality, and fiction seemed not as interesting. Then last fall I heard Ann interviewed about her 2021 book These Precious Days, a collection of essays about her life. I loved what she said and immediately took the book out of the library and read it nonstop. I found myself laughing out loud at some of her descriptions and then moved to tears by the beauty and poignancy expressed in others. Next, I read her novels The Magician’s Assistant and Bel Canto, each one remarkable. I was amazed at her ability to so vividly depict both human connection and human loss. I am now reading all her books.

Discovering Ann Patchett’s writing has been one of the best gifts in my lifetime of reading. Her fiction and personal essays are so perfectly crafted that the vulnerability and inner spirit of every person described envelops the reader in a blanket of compassion, not only for those particular individuals but for all people. I am immediately drawn into the story lines and relationships, along with the mysteries that gradually reveal themselves. Her characters are alive to me, so much so that I miss them when I finish each book, like longtime friends who have moved away.

Hers is an extraordinary talent. Her genius and skill in bringing to life such an immense variety of people, places, and events with empathy, honesty, and humor is awe-inspiring. Last December, I visited Parnassus Books, Ann’s bookstore in Nashville, Tennessee, where I bought a signed copy of These Precious Days and another for a friend, who, as she read it, commented, “Everything Ann Patchett writes about becomes fascinating.” Yes.

“As every reader knows, the social contract between you and a book you love is not complete until you can hand that book to someone else and say, Here, you’re going to love this.“—Ann Patchett

What Is Destiny?

The idea of destiny scares many people. They fear losing individual control over their lives, the “free will” they’ve always been told they have (in the Western world anyway): “If I can’t change the course of my life, am I a victim of circumstance? Am I a prisoner of fate?” Thoughts such as these can trap us in polarity and a single-minded view of the world. Words are like frames really; if you change the frame, the meaning changes.

What if we called destiny something else? Use a verb frame instead of a noun. How about: Destiny is flowing with the river of the universe. It is dancing with the divine music of the spheres. Living from the soul in pure loving awareness. Or all of the above. Instead of a closed door, destiny could be an open field, the one your soul and God designed together for you to play in in this lifetime. Destiny could just be another name for you and God as One.

We humans want to believe we can single-handedly control our daily lives, avoiding pain and hanging onto happiness. We fear getting lost in suffering. Yet no one can live a human life without experiencing the full spectrum of emotions, from sadness to joy. The secret is that we don’t have to suffer as we feel these things. If we open our minds and our hearts to a fully expanded soul view of the universe, then perhaps we can better see that we are one small, but essential, part of an intricately interwoven tapestry of light, color, and sound, which was created long ago (in human terms) and is continuing to unfold.

What if destiny is actually the supernovas, galaxies, and stardust from which we were born exploding across the cosmos to manifest as Planet Earth and you in this moment of human time and space? What if destiny is the spark of life itself within you? It is born, expands into shining beingness, and then gradually fades back into the universal matter from which it arose. All of it extraordinarily beautiful and magical and over which we have no control. You can only observe the unfolding in awe and wonder. This is human destiny. Within that is celebration not grief if seen through the lens of divine Presence. You are a miracle within a miracle.

Peace of mind and inner calm arise when we allow acceptance of life the way it is to fill our conscious awareness. This is not really alien to our human selves because deep within us is the core of living spirit (soul) which is peace itself. It is this Spirit that flows through the galaxies and through us and connects everything in oneness. We and the stars are destined to shine together. Accept every moment of your life, and light will radiate from you, and the idea of control will dissolve completely. Then you will know destiny as the gift of love and grace that it is.