Following our exploration of pride, which I continue to be aware of when it shows up in my life, it is time to look at the grace of reverence.
How delicious is the word….reverence…such a sound that I love. It has always been one of my most favourite sounds. It occurs to me as I write this that it may be a great word to use as a mantra in meditation.
Why would reverence be matched with pride? Pride in itself excludes other. It is self- centred. My pride, even our pride, is a form of separation from other. I am better than, we are better than..us and then. Reverence is the antithesis. Reverence is connection to the whole of life. Reverence is fully alive. Reverence is bathed in light and wholeness. To embody reverence we bow our head, in awe and humbleness to the greatness of all of life. Even if we don’t physically bow our head, we bow in energy towards something greater than self that is beyond words.
What a joy therefore, to spend time being aware of how reverence plays in my life. Today I went for a run with the boys, then had my first swim in the ocean for the summer season, which lasts for 7-8 months in my part of the world.
I felt reverence for the sun on my face, seeing the dawn, as the sun came over the ocean.
I thought about water, and how incredible it is to drink water. That we take this so much for granted. Yet what a relief it is to drink water when we are thirsty. What a feeling. I remember once when I was training for an Ironman triathlon, and it was a very hot and dry day in November. Two of us decided to ride up to the top of one of the major hills behind the Gold Coast, a continuous and unrelenting climb of about 8 kms (5 miles), in the midday sun. We had two bottles of water, and the ride would have been for two hours. But it was so hot and dry that we had gone through both bottles by the time we reached the top of Springbrook Mountain. I cannot ever remember being so thirsty in my entire life. It would have been about 45 C (113 F), with not a drop of humidity, rare for this part of the world. It was as if the atmosphere sucked every ounce of our fluid from our bodies. We made a bee line to the first service station (gas station) down the bottom of the mountain. An ice cold large bottle of Gatorade. It was one of the most pleasurable experiences of all of my life, drinking that drink on that day. How amazing is water to quench our thirst.
I also thought about the human smile. While I was running I smiled at an Asian man who was run/walking, offering him encouragement in my smile. A genuine smile would have to be the very greatest human communication skill. It transcends colour, race, creed, religion, place, time, language, ethnicity. When I smile from my heart with spontaneous generosity, it is not just creating a heart song in me, it offers my heart song to everyone else. I open myself to others. If we do not share the same language or belief systems, a heartfelt smile reaches across chasms of unfathomable depth and builds bridges. A smile is as miraculous as any act we can ever give. Truly remarkable. And free…imagine how your life would be transformed if you smiled with genuine joy to 50% more people in your day, every day and did nothing else? Wow! The transformation in you would be huge, and the gift you would give to others beyond measure. And all for the price of smiling.
Finally I thought about a seed. I have on my shelf a bag of basil seeds. They sit there, seemingly inert. Tiny, nondescript. I only know they are basil seeds because the packet says so. Some seeds in the world have been dormant for 100’s of multiples of our life time. They sit and wait, in unquestioning infinite patience, their magic contained within. Waiting, waiting, waiting for the right conditions. And then, kapow….with the right environment, good soil, water, light; they transform. Just like that. They reach for the sun. They go from this tiny nothing to this amazing something. Fragrant basil, or an oak tree. How simply remarkable is that?
When I was a student studying anatomy it was simply impossible not to be in daily reverence to the design of the human body. I can only bow to its miracle. My words will not be adequate. For this kind of reverence we need the words of the poets and mystics. Indeed, reverence of life is such a felt experience that we must reach to art, music, poetry and dance to even begin to express the truth of reverence.
As long time readers will know, this last few years, but in particular this last 6 months or so has been one of the most profound, difficult, confusing, heart breaking times of my life. I have been well, and no one has died, so comparatively, my life looks great, and I know that if I did the comparing game indeed I have nothing to complain about it. But we each have our paths of darkness, and mine has been challenging. I am at the stage of this journey where I do look at the whole experience with deep deep reverence. How perfect and remarkable, truly amazing..the questions I have sat in, the answers I have found, the blocks I have removed, the stories I have discovered that have ruled my life forever that I no longer need….metaphysically I am on my knee’s in gratitude for this exquisite, painful, beautiful journey.
In this short article on reverence I am learning that reverence as a daily practice is one of the most profound gifts we can give ourselves. Oh joy to bathe myself consciously in reverence daily, no matter what happens. No matter what happens. No matter what.
I offer this same gift to you.