This I believe
At dusk one summer evening, I was sitting peacefully outside a modest farm house in a rusted 1940s metal lawn chair under an oak riddled with Civil War bullets. I relaxed, absorbing the peace and warmth, perhaps wondering about the battles which had raged there only miles from the Civil War Battle Field Park. Then a transcendental moment engulfed me. Suddenly everything was different and yet had not changed. The air was suffused with the golden light of the setting sun, and I saw the puzzle of life fall into place. Its perfection stunned me. I dared not breathe lest it disappear. Yet disappear it did. I cried knowing that this would never occur again, knowing that had my life ended in that golden moment I could have asked no more. Instantly, the sudden understanding all but evaporated. But I was left with a shadow of understanding.
I believe that life is a whole and continuous fabric which we perceive to be a patchwork quilt. This Whole is God. The birth of the farthest galaxy and the death of a mouse are impenetrable mysteries, each as great as the other. As an earth bound creature, I accept that we are dust and return to dust, but that means that the physical substance of all things really never goes anywhere. Nothing can fall from the pattern.
However, the breath of life which animates all living things is something else altogether. It is without substance, assumes an insubstantial form, and finally leaves retaining the mystery with which it began. It is more powerful than all the visible. It is the bigger part of the universe beyond our comprehension yet cloaking all with a promise, “We are dust and we return to dust”- minus the ineffable breath which continues on and on beyond our wildest dreams, completing the perfect Whole. This is what I saw. The same stillness prevailed; the old horse grazed close to the barn. The leaves of the oak did not rustle. The sun slipped towards the horizon unchecked by my moment. I wondered, “What do I do next? In what part of my being does this now reside? I am different now, but how?” That was over twenty years ago. I am graying and old now. Nonetheless, I harbor a golden spark which has made my life precious from that point on.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.