Presence

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

Psalm 37:1-18 (Morning)
Psalm 37:19-42 (Evening)
Gen. 11:1-9
Heb. 6:13-20
John 4:1-15
 


Presence

“…whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14

“We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf, has entered.” Hebrews 6:19,20

In 1968 I spent two months in Japan. I was on my way home from two years in India in the Peace Corps. I was very fortunate to stumble into an opportunity to do a 10-day silent retreat in a 300 year old Zen Buddhist monastery in rural Japan. I was so unprepared for what I would experience there. I had left the church a few years before and fancied myself something of a Buddhist. I had visited the Buddhist sacred sites in India. I had studied some yoga. I thought I was really going to shine in this 10-day silent retreat. Boy, was I mistaken. We meditated from five in the morning till nine at night, sitting in a half Lotus on a meditation cushion on the floor. It was excruciatingly painful and humiliating. I could not hold my position for more than a few minutes. My constant changing of position was a distraction to all the other people meditating. The monks who lived in the monastery kept coming around and berating me in Japanese for being so restless. I felt like a huge failure. But I refused to give up. Then during the last two hour session on the last evening of the retreat I had an incandescent experience of spiritual in light minted. (Forgive this silly wordplay.) It would take me several pages to even begin to describe what that experience was like. 50 years later I still remember it clearly as one of the most powerful and formative spiritual experiences of my life. A real mountain top moment.

But here’s the weird part. The totally unexpected part. It just didn’t feel like a Buddhist experience. It felt like a Christian experience. Out of the blue I realized that, like it or not, I was a Christian. So what made it that way? Presence. God as a living aware Person infused my whole deal. Immensely powerful, deeply loving, slightly amused, God shared my mountain top moment with me. Created the moment in me. Flowed through me and flowed me into an honest to God cosmic awareness. I know it sounds corny, but it’s hard to talk about the physical, present, aware reality of God without sounding corny. At least for me–maybe I’m the corny one.

Jesus had entered my own inner shrine, behind the curtain of my secret silent Self, a forerunner on my own behalf, a living, loving aware Presence. Always there like a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

So simply put my friends, once again, in the end we are left sitting in a room full of people perfectly capable of loving one another.
 


Written by Andrew Kilgore

I am a photographic artist living and working in Arkansas since 1971. I have a degree in philosophy and a year of seminary. I began with the intention of a life in ministry. I have ended up serving that ministry with a life full of pictures. Praise the lord!

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