Zap!…and it was decided.
If you know anything about Central Florida in the summertime, then you know of our famous thunderstorms that happen between 3 and 6pm daily. Sunshine invades our state on a regular basis, but so do the storms famous for their clashes just above us. The cool breezes of the Atlantic clash with the warm winds off the Gulf of Mexico as they rendezvous just above Orlando, wrestling each other with wind and rain right down to the very ground. I love these storms. I find them to be brilliant and dramatic, Gothic and theatrical, as two opposite winds wrestle to the death for dominance with cracks of thunder and spikes of lightning….
I got caught in the crosshairs of those fights twice this week. Yes, TWICE this week lightning struck Honeychurch rendering our modem useless. (Don’t think it prophetic, the entire neighborhood lost internet). This second time was a bit different though. SO many people had lost internet that it was going to be three days before the technician could come out and swap modems.
Oh, I think someone else may have panted and panicked, freaked out and fawned over missing out. But, not I. No, I enjoyed the time away from the world. I enjoyed knowing only what joy I could summon, enjoyed not being subject to the anger, hostility, or even revenge that the world seems to be designed around these days.
No emails, no phone calls, no known truth other than those in my back yard. Books were binged (as they should!), bears were knit, and time was spent quietly focused on whatever joy my mind could conceive. I day dreamed, wished, prayed…and smiled brightly as nightly the storms converged on top of me again.
The heavy winds push the thick mists of rain through my open window and I feel relief. The temperature drops a few degrees to a place that is comfortable, crisp. The sky is alight with flashes, the ground rumbling with thunder, and the air so cool to the skin that it feels like heaven. Big oaks sway, the shadows of their branches bouncing along the thirsty grass. Cats hide, sirens begin to cry, and splashes upon the pavement can be heard from blocks away.
I love this time of year in Central Florida….
So, to be without internet these last few days was just a little taste of what it would really be like to disconnect from the world, so that I could pay more attention to the immediate world around me, and feel just fine the whole time.
But, despite all this, it was the cable technician’s own words that had halted me. “This is the second time this has happened in a week? I’m not surprised….You’re not grounded.”
Always looking for lessons in life, I simply listened as he said, “You’ll have a perfect, uninterrupted connection once you’re grounded.”
He may have been talking coaxial cables, but I was hearing something else. I had felt grounded the last few days, had felt an uninterrupted connection between myself and that beautiful little spark only seen when everything else goes away for a while. And while watching the modem come alive to remind me of some unearthly connection that I should be joyous of, I was hesitant. I sat back for a good hour before delving into emails, reading comments, tending to business…..
The world was just fine without me. Or maybe even better off for my having not been around. Quietly, in this safe place, harbored by oaks that sway gently through aggressive winds, wrapped in a mindset that was focused only on blessings, I was able to walk away from the world and care for it in a more personal, genuine way because I didn’t know what mischief it was up to…
The whole episode pushed more of my desire for a religious life, a contemplative life. For the dim lights of dawn, and the dramatic theatrics of our thunderstorms at dusk, all brought my ordinary way of thinking full circle.
This is what you wanted, Gregory. You wanted to fall deep into the waters of siloe, have the cenobites tempt you with their silence, their detachment, that you should be an heir to their wisdom, a wisdom only inherited once you cease demanding silence.
It happens as it should, for the religious and for the layman, that contemplative silence can either be pursued or found. In my pursuits, that great place of prayer eluded me every time I demanded it, or hunted it….But, the moment that silence was overwhelming, ever present, fully engulfing my day to day due to no will of my own,….well, beautiful things happen when you’re not trying so hard.
Beautiful things happen when you let them happen….not when you force them. And just like that, God said, “How many times do I have to strike you with lightning before you get it? I am….I am here…..I am here always…..I am never apart from you….I am never away from you….I am as you….You are as I am…..Every part of your body, your being, is a part of Me. There will never be a time we are apart, never. I give you My promise, that I will love you for eternity.”
That has been the cornerstone of my spiritual endeavors, just hearing that promise of eternal love, and I’m truly sorry, but you can hear that from anyone anytime of the day and it be meaningless. I know. I’ve heard people say, “God loves you,” and I winced and walked away. But, in those darker trenches of yourself, where you remember that everything you are is known by your soul, you tend to get a bit humble. When confronting God in silence you find yourself at a loss for anything to say…what can be said? You can only share with God what you feel….and in that communion you feel what HE feels back and you know, you realize nothing but love. And with that all is right with life.
The minute that modem was fried by lightning, I could hear God say, “Say nothing, and listen to nothing. Just feel my presence for a moment and do nothing more….All will be well.”
Yes, all will be well.
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