I was recently blessed with an evening of wine and conversation with a few good friends. We talked about many things, some serious, some light-hearted—children, grandchildren, church, both global and local, hurts, joys, husbands, who speeds while driving and who doesn’t. The residual mood of the evening wrapped me in a warm cocoon as I went to bed, the sense of having been held in a space outside of time and place, overlaid with a patina of belonging and lit by the glow of grace. It’s hard to find those places this side of heaven, so when it happens, I think it’s important to hold the experience close, acknowledge the gift of it, and remember that this is a mere fraction of the love, warmth and belonging that is always available to us when we turn our minds and hearts toward the divine lover of our souls. When we are able to set aside the things of this world, our to-do list, our ambitions, the distractions of everyday life, God is waiting in the space that is created. Our dream of union with the Beloved is as close as our next breath, and the sense of completeness and absolute belonging is there to be tasted and touched, even if only for a moment. And truly, a moment is enough, for it can be savored long after.
One of my favorite parts of my Academy for Spiritual Formation experience was night prayer. There was just something about the darkened chapel—the silence and solemnity—that touched my soul and brought God near. So when I need to return to those moments, I step outside right before bed and repeat one of the prayers from that liturgy. I gaze at the night sky, breathe in the aroma of earth and water and am instantly transported to a time and place that are etched forever in my spiritual memory. We need these touchstones that are portals to another time and place, a memory of a different way of experiencing God, self, and others, a different way of being. Perhaps, if you think about it, they are portals to the kin-dom of God as it exists in the world right now, all around us, just waiting for us to enter in. And maybe the more that we create experiences of safety, love, and belonging, the more we bring heaven into the here and now. May it be so.