God’s Valentine (a.k.a. the Creation)

rama_thumb3Many Valentine’s days ago I was very focused on Lord Rama as my face of God.  I had read the Ramayana, the story of the incarnation of the god Vishnu as the benevolent ideal king of Ayodhya, the ideal brother to Lakshmana and the ideal husband to Sita.

I was chanting Sri Ram Jai Ram every chance I got – every morning, every evening, every day in my car as I drove the 40 minutes to and from work, as I brushed my teeth and got dressed, as I went out on errands… Sri Ram Jai Ram, Jai Jai Ram.  Once I got so into declaring the Victory of God as the Jai Ram chant sped up that I got a speeding ticket, as I inadvertently sped up automotively, as well.  But I was in such bliss and love for God that I smiled up at the very nice officer with such overwhelming appreciation for his beautiful soul as he gave me my vehicular citation.  He smiled back at me and thanked me for being so kind.  And I thanked him for my ticket and drove off, my bliss completely unphased.  

wedding-of-rama-and-sitaI had pictures of Rama with his blue skin and his bow and arrow everywhere.  One of my favorites was a picture of him looking at Sita with steadfast and complete love.  I would imagine myself as the Beloved of Rama, the true and devoted wife of God and I was in love with Rama heart and soul! 

I was working at a holistic spa as a massage therapist along with my friend and fellow God devotee who was a head-over-heels gopi for Krishna.  The two of us used to pretend like she was “dating” Krishna and I was “dating” Rama and we’d leave each other messages on the phone message pad saying things like “Shanti, Krishna called and wondered if you and Rama wanted to double date tonight for dinner, he can pick us up in his chariot after work.”  The other massage therapist had no idea what we were talking about and did not realize that we were both “dating” Gods with blue skin, two different incarnations of Vishnu.  We were both silly and giddy in love.  

fb0400So, for my Valentine’s Day prayer that year I prayed for Lord Rama to pierce my heart with his arrow.  Now, Rama’s bow and arrow are not some little cupid baby toys – they are serious big friggin arrows!  He could shoot an arrow and split ten tree trunks in two and then have his arrow turn around and return to him!  His arrows could vanquish demons and win wars over evil!  So, this was not some piddly little cherub arrow we were talking about.  But I was courageous – or rather, I was too in love to be in fear, and I wanted my Valentine, Lord Rama, to pierce my heart wide open.

On Valentine’s day I had an outcall massage appointment for a lady who was home bound a half our into the countryside, so I was driving through the hills on my way out, chanting Jai Ram as usual.  I drove by a small enclosure with a herd of goats grazing and as I glanced to the side of the road one particular goat caught my eye.  He had big curled horns on the sides of his head – he was a ram.  A what?  Yes, a RAM, as in Jai Ram.  In the split second my eyes fell upon this RaChinese_Lunar_Zodiac_Ram_Sheep_Goat_Horned_Namesakem at the side of the road my heart was exploded!  It was Ram’s arrow piercing my heart, God answering my prayer.

All of a sudden, the whole world became a declaration of Ram’s love for me!  The green grassy hills were screaming “I love you!” everywhere I looked.  The trees were fervently flinging adoration on me as I drove by them, the flowers were passionately singing their love for me into the air, the sky was showering love down upon me.  As I continued driving down the road (God is not like alcohol, you can operate heavy machinery while intoxicated with the Divine) the rolling hills on both sides would reach out to caress me with sweet tenderness as I passed by.  My heart was bursting and expanding and overflowing and expanding again.

I noticed that even the road signs warning of sharp curves ahead seemed to be loving me just as ardently as the living greenery.  The street signs didn’t contain mere names signifying geographical locations – they also contained, hidden within the names, syllables of God’s Eternal love.  I don’t know why the road signs loving me seemed stranger than all of nature caressing me with love, but it did.

Cloud Curves Ahead_0The experience lasted maybe a total of ten minutes but I felt filled with enough love to last me all of eternity.  And it helped me realize that God is always declaring His/Her love for us in ALL of Creation – in goats and grassy hills, in sunshine and flowers, in birds and bees – even in road signs, even in innate man-made reflective yellow painted metal road signs.  So, even though my heart is not quite so pierced every day of my life, my heart is forever changed and whenever I see a curvy road ahead, I remember…. God is Love.

My Not-So-Secret Valentines

Valentines_Heart_by_ADJalbertAs Valentine’s is fast approaching, and as I believe that God is everyone’s Soul Mate, instead of worrying about if I will get flowers or a box of chocolates, I turn my focus onto my Eternal Beloved.  I have a good story to tell of the Valentine’s Day when God sent me a Valentine and pierced my heart with His arrow… and I’ll save that for Saturday, February 14th.

For today, I’ll simply share with you a love poem and the names of this year’s Valentine’s crushes.  Yes – as Love is a Wave and the Ocean, I have three secret crushes that I will reveal here now:

1. God.  Ok, that’s probably not a secret.

2. Peachy.  Again, pretty much everyone knows that.

3. Richard Rohr.  He is my new crush, my newly discovered Franciscan friar interfaith contemplative lover of God who I’ve been absolutely giddy about.  (Yes, I feel giddy over monks and nuns, sadhus and yogis – lovers of God make my heart go pitter patter like a teenage girl seeing a cute guy or a rock star.)

god-2Peachy love 2fr-rohr-franciscan

Honestly – I don’t know who is cuter?  (Ok, it’s pretty clear Peachy wins on that account).  In a way it seems silly to think of God or Franciscan Friars as cute – but why shouldn’t we be just as silly and in love with the Divine as we are with our high school sweethearts?

I do believe that all our expressions of Love stem from the same source – Love Itself, also known as God, Brahman, Allah, Krishna, Pure Consciousness and Quantum Entanglement.  I also believe that every human endeavor is an expression of our yearning to return to our Oneness in Love – from our high school crushes to the building of the world’s tallest building.  And I believe that every tree, river, bird and blade of grass is constantly expressing that same Love and Oneness for/with God.

So, the sweet love poem I want to share is from Thomas Merton and I just read it in my daily contemplation from my #3 crush, Richard Rohr.

My favorite part of the daily contemplation is actually from the description of Thomas Merton:  Merton wrote extensively about contemplation, and his own prayer practice “centered entirely on attention to the presence of God and to His will indexand His love . . . a kind of praise rising up of out of the center of Nothing and Silence” (The Hidden Ground of Love, pp. 63-64). That is such a beautiful description of my favorite kind of prayer and meditation – putting my attention on the Mystery of God’s Love, the mystery of how my love for God makes me One with God as we merge in the midst of this experience of LOVE, and the deep gratitude and praise which rises up out of the silence of this realization.

So, Happy Valentine’s Day.

Happy Joyous Love for God and from God AS God.

Here is one of Thomas Merton’s exuberant, joyous psalms:

 

Today, Father, this blue sky lauds you.

The delicate green and orange flowers of the tulip poplar tree praise you.

The distant blue hills praise you,

together with the sweet-smelling air that is full of brilliant light.

The bickering flycatchers praise you

with the lowing cattle and the quails that whistle over there.

 

I too, Father, praise you, with all these my brothers,

and they give voice to my own heart and to my own silence.

We are all one silence, and a diversity of voices.

You have made us together,

you have made us one and many,

you have placed me here in the midst

as witness, as awareness, and as joy.

 

Here I am.

In me the world is present,

and you are present.

I am a link in the chain of light and of presence.

You have made me a kind of center,

but a center that is nowhere.

And yet also I am “here.”

-Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, pp. 131-132

Thomas merton God shining through it