Friday, January 1, 2016

How the Light Gets In

The Light
Ring the bells that still can ring,
forget your perfect offering,
there is a crack in everything,
that’s how the light gets in.
—Leonard Cohen

There were three times in my life when God burst open that crack to find me. In the most profound and fleeting moment I experienced God as pure, all enveloping light, and instantly recognized the imperfection of my knowledge. Like the bell of a lighthouse, one thought rang out with the light "the eternal I Am, Is, Always Will Be, and that is enough".

I realize there are all sorts of scientific reasons to explain my experience - and that many others have experienced those moments more frequently than I through meditation, prayer, brain chemistry instability, or even drugs. Some folks claim that at the point of death we experience it due to the brain shutting down. Whatever the scientific explanations, they do not sway my faith in my experience of God because for whatever reason, I was given a keel to give me balance through the roughest moments life offers up.

The last few years have served up much too many of those soul breaking moments: the death of close friends, of beloved pets, of a favorite uncle, and of my parents; I've had my own back problems and near death; and worried over the health challenges of those I hold dearly. Life though has also laid out before me incredibly wondrous moments. In this year alone I've shared in: four weddings, family visits, travel to marvelous places, accomplishments in the spheres of education and human rights, bountiful and beautiful gardens, wonderful friendships, a lovely daughter come home, the successes of stepsons and lovely daughter-almost-in-law, and a joyful, cute as a pinch, new granddaughter.

However, yesterday, New Year's Eve, was one of those roughest points. We put down amazing Maisey. She outlasted the vet's prediction by about three months, even able to spend a wonderful Christmas as the family dog at our family celebration in my brother's gracious home. My Uncle Lou, who passed away just recently and who was the smartest dog person I ever knew, used to say that a person is blessed in life with one great dog. I used to think he was wrong as I've now owned 5 great dogs. But he was right when I consider Maisey. She was my one great dog, the dog from whom I've learned so much. She was almost human in her intelligence and keenly aware of the emotional state of others. Maisey was the dog most tender with young and old, and most generous of spirit (with the slight exception of her unwillingness to share her toys with my other two dogs, Louie and Addie). This New Year's weekend, we are all a little lost without her.

You might wonder what this all has to do with God, cracks, light, and such. Here's the thing, though I have an unmovable faith in God, I do not have that same belief in any type of after life for us earthbound creatures. In fact I fall more inline with John Lennon on this one,
"Imagine there's no heaven,
It's easy if you try,
No hell below us,
Above us only sky,
Imagine all the people living for today."
So why believe in God then you may wonder. Well I found the permanence and magnificence of God has been enough in Itself. Simply we are never alone, always belonging, never as smart as we think we are, and there is more beyond our limited vision of reality. This has been enough for me, well that is until my parents, family, friends, and beloved dog died. It's at these moments that I wish for one and only one great gift. I wish for the existence of heaven. In a fantasy of heaven, Maisey sits now under my father's gentle touch and walks the Elysian fields with my Uncle Lou, and in my fantasy of heaven my Mom watches out over everyone while laughing with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and quite a few of my cousins.

When I posted on Facebook about Maisey, many wrote to me about the faithfulness and ridiculous joy that a dog brings into one's life. Dogs carry that faith no matter how much their owners deserve it. Another wrote "the faithful love of a dog is the nearest we can come on earth to experiencing God's abiding love". It's the abiding part, the faith part, the where we find our strength bit that holds me. We find it in love. For now I'll keep trying to peer through the cracks and bring all those I've loved and who have loved me back to life in my own small ways.