Rain Words

    John Gray:  Human beings are divine beings in human form. Is that a surprising statement? Hardly. Many people would nod in casual agreement with it. In today's world it's hardly breaking news; it seems it's become a widely accepted theory. I once tested it on a business group I'm a member of and there were affirmative nods from the dozen or so around the table. However, when I later asked, "Do you experience yourself, personally, as a God being in human form?" the replies were universally evasive!

    Human beings are indeed God beings incarnate, and as such we are one with cosmic God, but who really knows it? As young children some, maybe many, people perceive themselves as special, as having a grand purpose in life, and as being somehow part of something vast. But that initial awareness of potential identity all too often fades as they get older and find themselves absorbed into the noise and busyness of the world. It's forgotten, or dismissed as fantasy.

    But for an uncommon few that sense of self does not submerge. And perhaps somewhere along the way something or someone reminded us of it enough that we looked up from the earth at our feet and lifted our eyes from the usual ways, toward the extraordinary. I bet, like me, you know people like that. I bet, like me, you are one.

    Our early epiphanies probably happened years or decades ago. It takes time for our bodies, minds, and hearts to grow and learn to a point where we can come into our own. Most of us have been there and done that, at least to a considerable extent. Whatever hints of true identity experienced early on established an orientation, a basic attunement, a sense of spiritual "true north," that has served to guide us along the way. For that we may be deeply thankful, and humble as well. After all we didn't do it ourselves, humanly speaking.

    Our human forms have been blessed over and over and over, continuously—and here we are now. To the degree that you or I or anyone has experience of abiding divine presence in our minds and hearts, it's because there is sufficient substance of connection between that reality of spirit and our human awareness. This is a "below-up" way of stating something. More importantly, this invisible substance is also the medium through which the individual source of spiritual expression, the incarnate God being, comes into the world. It is through the expression of the character of God that we experience and know that one spirit, and in time, or in an instant, know that it is not only in us but is us.

    As spiritual earthlings we're in this crazy, beautiful world but we're not absorbed into it. We may live now in a grown-up awareness of great purpose and vast presence. Those experiences of our younger years were indeed prescient! What a different understanding this is from ordinary human awareness. From God's perspective, most people may, at best, be described as disoriented and as ailing—physically, mentally, and emotionally. Humanity is seriously under the weather! I think that realization is coming home for more of us these days.

    Thinking of weather, we're aware of weather reports being prominent parts of the daily news, more than ever in recent years. Floods and droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, fierce winds, melting ice and rising sea levels, record heat and cold—you name it—extreme weather events are happening on earth all the time.

    Weather refers of course to conditions in the Earth's atmosphere—fair, windy, rainy, mild, stormy, etc. My dictionary states that the word "atmosphere" is formed of two Greek roots: atmos meaning "vapor" or "steam" and spahria meaning "globe." The atmosphere is the gaseous envelope surrounding the planet, part of the Earth's physical body. Alongside the dictionary definition was a diagram depicting various levels of the planetary atmosphere relative to the diameter of the earth—roughly eight thousand miles—the atmosphere is a very thin layer. The lowest portion of the atmosphere, the densest level closest to the Earth's surface, is called the troposphere. The prefix "tropo" means change. Weather occurs in the troposphere, which extends but six to twelve miles from terra firma. At altitudes above the troposphere, the "sphere of change," the atmosphere quickly thins and rarefies. The next layer is called the stratosphere, literally the "sphere of spreading out." Only some military aircraft and weather balloons reach into the stratosphere. And beyond that go just rockets and spacecraft.

    We humans live in this sphere of change, and our weather, both internal and external, is sometimes described in violent terms, almost as if weather were a malevolent force deliberately wreaking havoc and destruction on humanity. The emotional and mental states of many millions of people all over the world may also be aptly described in stormy terms. "It's a mad house out there!" many say—and either join in the fray or head for the storm cellar.

    It seems obvious that what would provide proper control and balance in physical weather patterns is largely missing on earth. What's missing in action—though not dead—is the crowning creation: humanity in true identity. If we don't know who we really are, we can't do our real job here.

    Our physical bodies are the smallest parts of us, individually speaking, and likewise for planet Earth. The actual stature of God being in human form stretches or extends or spans from Earth to beyond the highest heaven, and we're one with it all. Heaven isn't a place to try to get into—it isn't a place at all, for that matter. The point and purpose of being in human form is to be the means that the spirit of God comes out of heaven and into the earth, permeating it, personally and globally.

    Heaven is mentioned in the familiar first verse in the Bible and in more detail a few verses later:

    "And God said, 'Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.'

    "And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. "And God called the firmament Heaven." [Genesis 1: 6-8a]

    The Latin root of "firmament" suggests "support," "foundation." Given the usual use of the word heaven in religious circles, this meaning might seem confusing to some people. The first verse of Genesis however sheds light on the matter: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." The heaven came—and comes—first, and then the earth takes form according to the invisible design in heaven. Heaven is the earth's support and foundation.

    If the heaven is whole and pure then the earth is automatically heavenly, too. If the heaven's messed up, the earth can't help but be as well. Material humans can, and do, mess with the denser levels or layers of heaven, what's closest to the physical earth—the troposphere, literally and symbolically—and consequently the human world's kind of a mess, too. A lot of people see this, but mostly in an impersonal and generic way. Humanly induced climate change for example—global warming and its associated effects—whether denied or admitted, is a fact. The physical aspect of this is the least of it, but even when this fact is faced, it's nearly always blamed on ubiquitous "others" and not seen as my personal responsibility. The view from the bottom of the troposphere is, "We need to get things cleaned up before it's too late." What's the view from above?

    Most people live only in their personal tropospheres, right on the ground and under the weather, subject to every wind that blows and every earthquake that shakes. But even the most materially identified are somewhat sensitive to atmospheric conditions, though not necessarily consciously. I don't mean this just in terms of weather. We know that certain places have distinctive atmospheres owing to their uses, their history, how people regard them over time—places such as ancient sacred sites or cathedrals or even battlegrounds, for examples. Everyone's walked into a room where two people have been arguing and feel what cartoonists sketch as icicles hanging in the air, despite the fact that the parties may have fallen silent. Even your dog has a way of knowing how you're feeling. These are perceptions of non-physical, usually invisible substance—the coarsest levels of the heaven of things.

    Whether people in general know it or like it or not, our external world reflects the internal condition of human beings. If a truly heavenly state is to be restored in human experience, enough of us must generate a sufficient amount of fine heavenly substance to adequately connect our bodies and minds and hearts with the incarnate God being we each really are. Obviously some connection exists, or physical forms wouldn't live—our own divine presence is operating in our personal earths below the conscious level. Both personally and collectively, the only way to "save the world," as it's put, is to restore consciousness of the oneness of heaven and earth. This opens the way for the one I Am to be incarnate and in expression here and now.

    In Southern California we enjoyed a rainy spell last week, and for the couple of days since, the light through newly-cleansed air has been clear and bright. The snow on the higher mountains to the east and north is dazzling white. Pamela is teaching second grade this year and her seven-year-olds just got a real-world demonstration of the Earth's water cycle in action. I helped Mrs. Gray recently, drawing posters depicting the water cycle for her classroom bulletin board. This may be second grade stuff, but I found myself marveling anew at the beauty of Earth's design—how water constantly circulates and flows on, in, under, and above the planetary surface.

    We probably remember from our own elementary school days the working of the water cycle. Direct evaporation of surface water and the transpiration of water by plant life both occur in response to the sun's radiant energy. These processes lift water molecules into the atmosphere where they cool, condense, and form clouds. When this airborne moisture condenses further, droplets form which coalesce and become heavy enough to precipitate as rain or snow or ice. So the water returns, and its precipitation cleanses and purifies the atmosphere on its way down. We may remember too that only pure water rises in response from the earth and seas; impurities are left behind when water evaporates. And the rain falls, blessing the earth. While not second-grade material, the water cycle portrays intercourse between water and fiery sunshine, making it possible for life to flourish in form on earth. We may recognize and appreciate too that water symbolizes truth, one of the three primary aspects of the spirit of God. The sun represents love. The energy and power of love in action through the water of truth brings the world to life, both in heaven and on earth.

    We may lift up our eyes and see wonders happening above and beyond the craziness and destructiveness of human behavior at the bottom of the troposphere. I am profoundly thankful for the immense divine presence that surrounds and enfolds and covers the human world in love and glorious light.

    Let's each of us in our own way continue with every breath to give ourselves wholeheartedly into the creative process by which the actually rather small gap of connecting heaven is infilled, and the world is made whole.

    Substance rises when we worship like this. A cloud of glory forms, and for this little while we've just shared, precipitation comes in the form of rain-words, falling gently from heaven.

December 9, 2018

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