Within every human being is a recognition, a longing, a desire for something more – something greater. We know, somehow, that we are not merely creatures of the earth. At present we exist within physical time-bound forms made of the same substance as the earth around us, but this is not our final state.
Surrounding us is a mystery, invisible, but very real. What we can see and touch is only a representation of this deeper reality that is not held within the bounds of time, but transcends this dimension to be what humans call eternal. It is the only way we can understand something which stretches on for infinity without losing its value, splendor, or allure. It is hidden but only so that we might seek, find, and become one with its nature and begin to represent its qualities in the world around us.
The ancient Egyptians, then the Greeks, and finally the Romans took various elements of this eternal reality and gave to them names, like Aphrodite, Jupiter, and Athena, along with human-like qualities, which made them more accessible. An elaborate religious system developed around how to relate to these ‘deities’ that represented certain truths about the human experience. However, this humanization contained only a fragment of the truth.
Concepts like love and wisdom did exist and still do – but not necessarily in the way that they have been defined up to this point. Where the Greeks erred in considering these things with too much human influence, modern philosophy has erred in thinking of these truths as too abstract.
They are, in fact, neither pure conception, nor are they very much human. Rather, they are an existence that transcends our time-bound reality as a part of this world that will not come to an end. Their qualities are stamped all over the human experience, but this is because the human experience emerges from their nature, not the other way around.
Religions throughout history have responded to the need for something more by providing humans with an elaborate set of rituals and requirements through which they can begin to reflect one dimension or another of this eternal reality. Human beings always seem to be trying to move beyond the short-comings of their nature to achieve some un-named desire for meaning and significance that will transcend the short span of years we enjoy in this world.
Since most religious systems depend on human effort – a time-bound reality – they only succeed in restricting the expression of our eternal reality to pre-defined sets of actions, thoughts, and beliefs. Instead of providing a pathway to unlocking true greatness, they suffocate the first breath of life and redirect the opening eyes of the infant creature toward a limited rather than eternal understanding of their identity. “If we will only
Not to be utterly despised, these religious creations resolutely attempt to answer a common question. Embedded within them all rests a common theme: a call to participate in the unseen but still recognizable eternal reality of the world. There is something more than the time-bound creation that surrounds us.
Imagine waking up within a dream and suddenly beginning to realize its nature as a dream only resembling life awake. Then within the dream itself comes a voice, a call, a hand stretched out from somewhere with your name written on it. “Wake up!” it cries; “discover what it means to be alive – to open your eyes, to hear with your ears, and to taste all of its sweetness.”
It is always the choice of the dreamer to answer this call and rise up or to ignore it and continue watching the dream play out. However, once the call has come, the dream can never again satisfy the deepest longings of the human heart.
I remember walking beside the banks of the River Liffey in Dublin, Ireland when the call came. It was an invitation to see beyond the temporal world and embrace the eternal dimension of human nature. A desire awakened within my heart, stirred up by the imagination of Walt Disney, validated by the fiction of C.S. Lewis, and offered by a community of people who knew something about the mystery of love. Standing in the cold spring morning on the boardwalk above the flowing water, I resolved that some way, somehow, whatever it took, I would seek out and discover the answer to its unspoken question.
The mystery had broken into my life in a way that would shatter the world I had come to know and show it in a light and color that only ever grows more brilliant. I could have said no, and I could have continued the path I was on, but I already knew there was something more. In daring to ask the question, I had taken the first step in the direction of the sunrise where all who seek will find they have begun to wake up to everything it means to be fully human.
The Mystery of One
To most people, the simplicity of 1+1=2 obscures its incredible mystery. It’s truth is not found in the accuracy of the equation but in the mystery that the symbolism represents. The two become one without a violation of their nature. In union, they create something new. This is the mystery of creation, the magic of life.
Truth in seeking is not about the end of a journey, but about its beginning. I cannot be other than what I am where I am. Or, as some like to say, “wherever you go, there you are.” The point is not to escape from the world, nor to create the world, but to come alive within the world through participation in its mystery as a revelation of the One from whom, by whom, and for whom all things exist.
My own part in this great story is still being written. At present, it is only a pathway whose destination remains unknown. Words have their limitations in expressing an experience of life that is infinite. I share some of them here as