From WILLIAM EDELEN (1922 – 2015)
The Contrary Minister
If we are fortunate, at some point before we die, we can discover WONDER. For we who have become so preoccupied with gaining and spending, with winning and losing, have lost sight of the miracles around us. Wonder is the capacity of sustained joy and awe. Wonder is a sense of freshness and spontaneity. Every day is a surprise party. Life is a cafeteria of delights, a new flower, a hummingbird hovering, a cucumber cucumbering.
To sense the ultimate in the common and in the rush of the passing, stillness in the eternal is to live with wonder, with “Ah.”
The purpose of religion for thousands of years has been to put human life into direct contact with the life of the cosmos, mountain life, desert life, cloud life, sun life, moon life, water life, rain life, snow life, plant life, animal life, storm life, rock life, and so receive energy, joy, and transformation. That is why the seasons of Solstice and Equinox are so important in the celebrations of so many traditions.
Today, physicists are telling us that their understanding of “reality,” the nature and activity of the universe is bringing us closer and closer to the perspective of the ancient Eastern religions, especially Hinduism and classical Taoism.
We are a part of the cosmic dance, and all is one. Physicists assure us now that rocks and flowers dance with the dance of life. Trees dance to the wind. Salmon and trout and porpoise dance and leap with a ballet of grace and rhythm. Planets dance to beautifully intricate laws, even as do atoms. There is no line between the sacred and the profane, the supernatural and natural, the divine and the human. ALL is natural, ALL is sacred. ALL is divine. It is asked of us even as the carpenter asked in Alice in Wonderland: “Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance?” A recently translated Dead Sea Scroll records a disciple asking Jesus, “Master, how can we get into the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus answers, “Follow the birds, the beasts, the fish, and they will lead you in.”
Classical Taoism has been saying that for 3000 and more years. The Old Master of Taoism, Lao Tzu, born about 600 B.C. was immaculately conceived by a shooting star, according to legend. He did not preach or organize any doctrine or theology. He spoke only of our at-oneness with the universe and the harmony that exists between all things. The Tao (pronounced “Dow”) does not refer to a supernatural “god” out there, somewhere.
Do you want to see the Living Tao? Look into a wood burning fire and see the sun’s energy dancing, as captured by photosynthesis. Watch a bird in flight, soaring on the current and never stopping to analyze or explain the wind. Listen to the sound of rain, which needs no translation. Watch a salmon leap up the next set of rapids. Watch a bee gathering pollen. The Tao is the way of ultimate reality. It says, “Get yourself in tune and harmony with the natural rhythms of nature and the universe, and then let yourself flow without strain, tension and anxiety.” It is a perspective and view of life that can be used daily in the busiest office in downtown San Francisco or New York City. It changes the way you approach problems.
In our busy, rushed, calendar-filled world of appointments and meetings and conferences, it can save us from migraine headaches, high blood pressure and stress problems. Whether you are a Christian, Jew or Agnostic, the beautiful themes of Taoism can still become a part of your days and activities. It can enrich your view of the world and enlarge your understanding of reality.
The flow of life is like the flow of water. If you are thrashing and flailing around, you tire and exhaust yourself and drown. If you relax and float and flow with the tide, it carries you gently. So it is with life. It is as was said by a nomadic teacher named Jesus. “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They neither toil nor spin. Consider the birds of the air. They neither sow nor reap. Why be anxious?“
Living in the flow helps you to re-discover WONDER. The wonder of being alive in a world surrounded by miracles.
Living in the flow, flexible, helps to rediscover wonder. The rigid pine breaks, The willow bends in the strong wind and returns to its original shape.
A life lived in the flow of nature’s rhythms, calm, helps us to experience the beauty of the dance, of life… events… relationships. It is mandatory for living a life filled with the wonder of our days and existence. It is living with WONDER.