Last week I spent Wednesday through Sunday at Ghost Ranch with some amazing young adults. I am certain that I still qualify as “young adult” at 33. So I say, we had a great time.
Some of the most beautiful spiritual moments these last few months arrived in a young adult package of hope, hunger, and conviction. I witnessed weeping in prayer. I was part of some deep, and beautiful conversations on the nature of God. I was blessed to see the eyes of some awaken to the realization of what hope in Jesus offers.
I left renewed, tired, and very hopeful for the church. If any of these young adults leads a community towards reconciliation, transformation, or service I would want to attend that church.
I did not arrive at Ghost Ranch with the attitude I left her with. On the flight to New Mexico I began to read Siddhartha again. I love this book. It is only one of a few that I will read and re-read.
This time I came across a portion of the book that hit me slightly different than before. I read, “Quietly, Gotama had listened to him, unmoved. Now he spoke, the perfected one, with his kind, with his polite and clear voice: “You’ve heard the teachings, oh son of a Brahman, and good for you that you’ve thought about it thus deeply. You’ve found a gap in it, an error. You should think about this further. But be warned, oh seeker of knowledge, of the thicket of opinions and of arguing about words. There is nothing to opinions, they may be beautiful or ugly, smart or foolish, everyone can support them or discard them. But the teachings, you’ve heard from me, are no opinion, and their goal is not to explain the world to those who seek knowledge. They have a different goal; their goal is salvation from suffering. This is what Gotama teaches, nothing else.”
Why did these words jump out at me? Why could I not read past them this time? I have read them before, it paints a portrait of Siddhartha and drives the story further. Only this time these words stopped me. Them compelled me to thought.
There I was 30,000 feet or so in the air above the continental United States. I was inside a recirculated air cocoon awaiting arrival in the Spirit-filled desert and nearly a hundred young adults. I found myself deeply contemplating life. Asking questions, but n real question in particular.
I wondered around my head in to and out of thought. I grew aware and wandered of in the distance. I contemplated death and my finitude. Something I am largely obsessed with at times. I pondered God and the teachings I am charged to offer the disciples at the church I serve. I drew inward, deeper and deeper until…nothing.
I am no sure if it really happened or not. I think there was a moment of utter nothingness that I encountered. There was neither God, nor god, or even something. I encountered something I have never encountered before.
I felt the wind sweep across my face. I was awake and dull, asleep and sharp. I was aware of all things and no thing. It seemed like hours that I dwelt in this place, but it was only minutes.
As I began to awaken from what ever I was encountering something filled the nothingness I was now leaving. The thought of Christian Hope. I am not sure if it could be boiled down to I had an encounter of the theology of Christian Hope or that I had any kind of tangible encounter with Christian Hope. I just know that as I awoke I was covered with life pertaining to Christian Hope.
WTF? I sat there above fields, cities, and plains in my budgeted piece of creation. I was at peace. A deep peace that I have not felt in some time, if ever. I just knew that God had awakened something in me. It did not seem special, different, or anything else.
It was like the event that happened to Siddhartha later on in the book. I was the same only the world seemed brighter, different than it had just been. I no longer could witness life absent that divinely felt presence invading my heart and mind. I sat there with something more than a calculated rendering of Christian Hope that could be taught let alone explained.
It disturbed me as it brought me peace. I have spent time in meditation since pondering the question, “Does Christian Hope get in the way of Salvation?” “But be warned, oh seeker of knowledge, of the thicket of opinions and of arguing about words. There is nothing to opinions, they may be beautiful or ugly, smart or foolish, everyone can support them or discard them.” What foolishness lies at the heart of dogmatic teaching?
To often we seek knowledge for power and not freedom of suffering. Did Christ die so that we may have power? Did Christ come and die to free creation from the binds of power? In the thicket of opinion and muttering of words there is something. Let us quite ourselves and enter the no-thingness of God.