I woke early and, instead of crawling grudgingly out of the warm bed as usual, I lay in thought for a few minutes. I had not moved anything except my eyelids; Ani couldn’t possibly know I was awake yet… could she? Well, on past showing yes, but honestly, it wasn’t even daylight. I have long since lost the habit of lounging in bed on a morning. Children and dogs require attention and years of getting up bleary eyed to deal with them build a habit it would be nice to break.
On the other hand, I get the dawns, so I can’t complain.
I was musing over something I had read before sleep from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, “Matter is spirit moving slowly enough to be seen.” Scientifically, go ahead and shoot me down in flames, but the idea caught my attention as it accords with how I have always seen the world.
I like de Chardin. He was a French Jesuit priest with a passion for palaeontology and geology. A scientist with faith. On the one hand his feet firmly planted in earth, on the other a soul that soared. I may not share his particular facet of faith, nor all his views, but it is through difference that we explore and learn. I can see, though, a man who believed with his heart, used his mind to seek understanding and lived his personal faith as best he could and that, regardless of the detail, always holds something special.
I agree with him on this, though. Regardless of scientific arguments for or against, when we take that simple image of ‘slow-moving spirit’ and use it as a lens through which we look at the world, the natural order takes on a new depth. If we see all as spirit moving at different speeds… long and slow for the rocks and mountains, faster for our little human lives, faster still, perhaps, for air … then we begin to see a universal fraternity, a kinship with all the manifestations of life and, for me, that leads to a single stream of Being that runs through everything that we know.
We could even look at ourselves in that light, seeing the dense, physical matter of the body as the slowest-moving manifestation of spirit, our emotions, perhaps, as rather faster, picking up speed to mind and thought. And that is without exploring the subtler realms of the soul which, in terms of that image, must be faster still and thus closer to the source.
It makes me think of the centrifuge that separates a homogenous fluid into its component weights except that the fluidity in this case is that of the spirit.
It is just this kind of seed that grows in the imagination; a small phrase, an image, a word… that if allowed to put down roots and work its way through the fertile ground of the mind can engender the flowers of realisation. It doesn’t take much. It doesn’t even have to be provably or objectively true if it leads to a deeper understanding on a personal level.
Thinking about it led me straight back to what is, perhaps, the most widely known quote from de Chardin, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” That small shift in emphasis makes life seem a completely different thing. And from there to another, “Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.” You don’t have to share de Chardin’s faith to get the idea; there is a joy that comes when the universal unity of Being is recognised and we see ourselves as part of an expanding perfection. The presence of the divine, however we conceive It, cannot help but illuminate the moment with joy. It is in those moments we feel One with the unfolding of a beauty in which we are enfolded; where words cease to be enough and only the moment holds meaning, yet it is a moment that spans eternity.