Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he has promised us, eternal life. – I John 2:24-25
As I watch sunset on a cold spring day the earth breathes, and branches stir. I myself inhale a few late snowflakes while the sky flames and those creatures who have been active in the sunlight make their way to their nests and dens. The clouds, blue as bruises, pile up along the crests of the charcoal gray foothills. A first lone star appears.
I am well fed, tired, a little melancholy. My eyes sting with some sort of histamine reaction. In this state, at this time, it is easy to sink down into a mindless appreciation of color and cold, the bleeding away of sunlight, the coming of the close comfort of the dark. Descending into silence and restful awareness, I feel the boundaries blur between me and everything else. I can see at this liminal time how all individual entities are part of a great whole, like cells are part of a body. Birds, stones, trees and air all belong to something bigger. Any one cell might die, but the organism goes on living. Perhaps at some level each cell is part of the consciousness of the larger being as well.
As I settle, like a tiny pebble falling to the bottom of a pool, my thoughts are suspended. Just for a second I get the sense that someone is looking back at me from the depths of my own heart. And I remember that I know this loving presence.
I realize that this is what I “heard from the beginning”, this presence. From the time I was a little kid, whenever I grew quiet enough inside, I felt this other who looks back at me. It wasn’t a regular occurrence – far from it. But it happened enough that I came to trust it. Letting this other presence abide in me is simply a matter of clearing away the “clang, clang, clang” of thinking, scheming, and posturing so that I can experience it.
Eternal life, most traditions of mysticism will tell you, is something that happens, not after we die but right at this second. It is what occurs when we are awake to the present moment, the one we are living in right now. This moment is endlessly nuanced – deep, rich and full. God lives in it as God lives nowhere else, alive and available.
I hope someday to be able to come more frequently to and to stay for longer in that place where I commune with God in the depths of my heart. For now even the quickly passing second is a gift that realigns my consciousness. I remember the primary relationship that orients and defines me. I remember that I abide in the Son and the Father.
Laurie Gudim is a religious iconographer and liturgical artist, a writer and lay preacher living in Fort Collins, CO. See her work online at Everyday Mysteries With others she manages a website for the Diocese of Colorado highlighting congregations’ creative ministries: Fresh Expressions Colorado