Tuesday, January 13, 2015


As I search for your love, you always come to me,
You are so beautiful, you make my heart run free.

As I look for your love, shining on your face,
You are so beautiful, you fill me full of Grace.

You are my love, You are my hope, You are my liberty.
Send me your love, send me your hope, you make my heart run free.

All the days of my life, I will follow You,
You are so beautiful, You make my dreams come true.

I wrote this song while meditating on a park bench, overlooking a beautiful lake near my home. It was the spring of 2006, only a few months after a forty-day meditation retreat my wife and I attended in a Retreat Center on the edge of the Arizona desert.

It started out very similar to the many others we had attended over the years, but this one turned out differently. On the thirty-eighth day of this retreat, after many days of deep, penetrating meditation, I encountered a phenomenon that forever changed the way I see and experience the world around me.

How does one begin sharing the story of a life-transforming experience, one that words cannot capture?

After many years of writing sermons for the Christian Church to which I belong, I defer to the simple rule that helped me with this work, namely, Begin with a single thought and stick to it. So I begin with a single thought, the notion of Presence.

As a child growing up on a farm in Eastern Canada, Presence was a part of my life. The only time Presence is not there is when I let myself become distracted by the demands of life around me. What is this Presence? I'll use three milestones in my life to describe it.

The first occurred when I was eight or nine years old. I recall it as vividly today as when it happened. Early one spring morning after a good night’s sleep, I got out of bed. No one was around. My parents were doing their chores and my other brothers and sisters were either off doing chores or still sleeping. I stepped out the front door onto the doorstep of our farm house. My mind was still quiet from my sleep. At that instant, I experienced a moment of clarity, of awareness, that remains stamped in my memory today. The spring air was very still and contained a refreshing warmth and fragrance. I could hear the running water in the nearby stream, swelled by spring rains. The swallows were flying around the barns; I could hear the flapping of their wings. The moment lasted several seconds, but seemed much longer. I was suspended in a harmony with everything around me — a peace, an inner contentment and joy. For those few seconds, it was as if time had stopped. A moment of joy and peacefulness, not attached to one particular thing. Beyond the tranquility of all I witnessed, there was something more that cannot be named; something ineffable, deep, inner, and holy. A graced moment that still remains vivid in my mind today.

The second milestone happened in my mid-twenties, during the early years of pursuing career and family life, a time of struggle. For some time, I felt a deep dissatisfaction with my life. Despite that fact that I was succeeding in many of my goals (in my career, my family, in acquiring the things I wanted), something was missing. I felt empty when it came to love and relationships. As a result, I experienced being isolated and alienated from others. Nothing I did dispelled these feelings. In my search for an answer, I decided to get more involved in church. I taught Sunday School, joined a Mens Group, and became part of a prayer group. It was there, at the prayer group, on a cold November evening, during a time of prayer, in a moment of quiet desperation and in tears, I turned to Christ and asked for help. It was as if the walls of my alienation and fear washed away, and I experienced, in a new way, God’s Presence and love for me, so strong that the structures of my well-planned life were shaken.

It was as if Christ was calling me to ministry as a way of life, imploring me to step away from a way of life where everything depended on my efforts and the false illusion of security it provided, asking me to step into the waters of uncertainty. The prayer discipline for this journey into faith became meditation.

The third and most unusual encounter happened in my late fifties during the forty day retreat in Arizona. On the thirty-eighth day of this retreat, a deep change began with a spontaneous change in breathing patterns (pranayama) that seemed to open up areas in my body, previously devoid of air and energy flow. This was followed by a pulsating in the root and sacral Chakras and the flow of an ecstatic energy from that location, up the spine to begin a process of renovating and restructuring my brain that would dismantle a lifetime of constructs, boundaries, and conditioning. What remained with the greatest clarity was Presence, much more universal, much more expansive, observing, but not judging, free from any constructs and boundaries, remaining, at all times, in the present moment.  

What started at that moment was the beginning, the discovery of a new language, a new archetypal model that could help with the understanding and integration of this new way of seeing and of being. The Christian paradigm of which I was most familiar had little to offer by way of explanation or experience.

In my next post, I'll explore my discovery of an archetypal model that helped me with this integration.

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