I’m back after my Lenten pause and, like the people who experienced resurrection, I’ve needed time for my Easter experience to sink in. Perhaps a way of speaking about what has arisen in me would be to talk about a book I’m working on called ‘A Deeper Green’ which suggests a heightened awareness, like the glimpses we all have, though glimpses that can lead to a deeper consciousness of what’s going on in the world and where I fit in. Tom Berry has described human beings as the self-reflective consciousness of the universe. Mary Oliver puts it poetically:
It is what I was born for –
to look, to listen,
to lose myself
inside this soft world –
to instruct myself
over and over
Such an understanding gives our purpose in life so much more meaning and dignity than anything else I can think of. I want A Deeper Green to describe this process toward a deeper consciousness by retracing my own life-journey. My story demonstrates how all of us have experienced this deeper consciousness, if only in glimpses that leave a sense that there is much more going on in the so-called everyday world. I’m reading a book this week on the creative process – Imagine, by Jonah Lehrer – that describes how inspiration happens and how we can collaborate with what I believe is actually a deeper level of reality that already exists in everything and in us as a deeper self. In a similar way, I’ve always felt that if we learned how listen better we would hear so much more and would be able to work much better with life in a way that is normal and natural and not confined to the few geniuses or saints. These, in fact, simply do more deliberately, more passionately, and more persistently what we can all do: like staying with a problem, for example, until we are defeated and then continuing to stay with it but in a different way – vulnerable, open – that allows an insight to emerge. To practice this kind of persistent presence to things would be to move from occasional heightened awareness to a constant/continuous deeper consciousness of the world and myself in it. And this great purpose is given to everyone, from the brightest to the most ordinary and from the richest to the poorest.
The Easter stories which have always intrigued me seem to suggest that Jesus rose, as it were, to such a consciousness, to the point where it determined the form of his existence in the world. Even a summary reading of the resurrection stories suggests such a transformation to a new order of being, no longer confined by the material or physical (including death), and a new form of existence that was not immediately recognized even by his closest friends. The stories, in fact, are also about their awakening/awareness – their resurrection – about what is going on in life and the realization that this is the goal of every life: to evolve to a deeper consciousness and a deeper level of being; to a higher frequency, perhaps, that is not confined to material forms as we know them.
This seems to me to be a worthwhile purpose for a human life that is not simply spiritual in the sense of an esoteric or private world, or even explicitly about addressing the challenges of everyday living through some kind of self-sacrifice. Rather it is about achieving this deepened level of consciousness and the new order of being it will inform that will lead spontaneously, naturally, and organically to the transformation of all our issues, problems, relationships, and processes: from sustainability to peace and from personal well being to justice for all forms of life.
It’s good to be back.