We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.

Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Spirit of the Moment

In his meditation for June 21st, Frederick Buechner, Listening to Your Life (HarperOne, 1992), recalls an early spring morning in the North woods during "sugaring time."  He was walking with a friend and offered to let him taste some maple sap right out of the bucket.  He writes, "The sap of a maple is like rainwater, very soft, and almost without taste except for the faintest tinge of sweetness to it..."  As Buechner tipped the bucket up to his friend's lips, the friend looked up at him and said, "I have a feeling you ought to be saying some words."  There were apparently no words to be said, but the friend's observation caught the spirit of the moment, an almost mystical moment.  Buechner continues, "he and I became different, something happened for a second to the air around us and between us.  It was not much and lasted only for a moment before it was gone.  But it happened—this glimpse of something dimly seen, dimly heard, this sense of something deeply hidden." (p. 164)

Religion in all of its forms is ultimately a comment on moments like these, and all of our theologies, rituals, conclaves, and prayers are but reminders of them.  Sometimes the reminders are vivid and themselves become holy moments.  Most of the time, they but dimly remind us of those Spirit moments.  At their worst, they obscure and even deny the reality of the moment.  But at their best, each of the elements of our own personal religion, whatever it may be, affirm what Buechner affirms: such moments happen and provide us with a glimpse of something deeply hidden.  They are revelations.  Amen.