The Gate of Heaven is Everywhere! Episode 13

James Taylor photo

The Invisible Web of Divinity[1]

Last night we celebrated my 60th birthday in a James Taylor concert. I found myself mesmerized by the experience of singing treasured songs along with thousands of people. It was a mass choir. The songs were not religious but the messages in them and the singing sure were spiritual.

We sang songs that touch the heart like “Sweet Baby James,” and “Country Road,” and “Fire and Rain.” We also sang songs that portray how much we are part of each other like “Shower the People You Love with Love,” and “Shed a Little Light, Oh Lord.” The lyrics of that one move me every time: “Let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King, and recognize that there are ties between us, all men and women living on the earth, ties of hope and love, sister and brother hood. That we are bound together….” Standing there singing that message with thousands of people, and knowing the message to be true, you couldn’t help but sense the invisible web of divinity connecting us all. The Spirit was moving right in that “secular” concert.

*

One morning I experienced the invisible web in one of our contemplative groups. I had invited the participants to share personal stories of their own sacred journey. What emerged, after our opening period of silent meditation and sacred yoga postures, was a stream of holy sharing that revealed that web of divinity connecting us all.

One of the stories was of how a woman absorbs the faces of each group member while we share each week. She said those faces stay within her forever. Then in trying times she calls on our faces as a source of comfort. She used the images to remind her of the invisible web of divinity. In one group, she also inwardly sent spiritual comfort towards each person along that same interconnecting web. This was her way of practicing what Quakers call “holding us in the Light.” She was holding us in her heart.

Another lady spoke of treasuring the sharing of sacred things within the group, since she had no other place to freely share her spiritual journey with people who would understand and be interested, without judgment. She was discovering the delight of being interconnected by the invisible web of divinity. The group was becoming what her soul had longed for.

Another lady shared how hard it had been to leave the religious tradition of her first 50 years, and to “wander in the desert with no spiritual community” for over a decade. She shared the joy she was finding as she learned to open herself to the possibility of a spiritual home with other followers. She described the difficulty of letting go of prescribed doctrines which had been drilled into her for decades, without having replacement truths to put in their place.

We agreed with her that the Way of Unknowing, the spiritual path of admitting we have very few answers about the Mystery we call God, can be daunting. We also supported her in the courageous step of locating herself within a spiritual community who walk the path of not-knowing it all. This too revealed the invisible web connecting us all, which is not built by adopting identical doctrines or beliefs.

A group member described how he had found comfort in the liturgy and sacred music of the church for decades. But recently those experiences had not provided much fulfillment. In their place, he was delighted to find that learning the simple act of centering prayer, sitting silently in God’s presence with groups, was offering a deep source of spiritual nourishment. He was not belittling his previous sources of nourishment. He was simply noting that things can change over the course of one’s spiritual journey, and that he was now surprised to be experiencing the invisible web of divinity in the simplicity of silent centering.

So here is my conclusion: I think God has strung a divine web of interconnectedness between the beings She/He has made. This web is not dependent on what we believe. That means the interconnectedness can be experienced anywhere, including very secular settings like a James Taylor concert. Why? So that we can experience the sacred connection wherever we are in this world, wherever there are two or more gathered together. In our contemplative gatherings, we know the connection through silent presence with each other, honest and vulnerable sharing of our spiritual journeys, and even spiritual imaging of each other. In a mystery beyond our understanding, God finds us and we find God as we connect in community. Thanks be to God for this amazing way to come Home through the invisible web of divinity connecting us all!

[1] Somewhere I have read a wonderful phrase about how we are all connected by an “invisible web of divinity.” Barbara Brown Taylor refers to it as “The Luminous Web.”

 

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About soulcare4u

I am the author of Monks in the World: Seeking God in a Frantic World, published by Wipf & Stock and available through Amazon.com; and of a blog on Wordpress.com, "A Contemplative Path." I serve as the founding spiritual director of The School for Contemplative Living (www.thescl.net), adjunct faculty of Loyola University, and as a pastoral counselor and spiritual director in private practice.
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