On a recent run through the park area I almost always choose for my route, I noticed the sky, the air, and general sense of “place.” This is both good and bad. It is good that I was taking notice. And it is bad because it lets me know how unaware I typically may be. I know as well as anyone how important awareness is for the spiritual journey.
But that day I was aware. The keenest part of my awareness was how the late afternoon had “the feel of autumn.” As autumn approaches, the light in the sky comes at a different angle and intensity. At least in my part of the country, the air does not immediately go from summer to winter. Autumn is usually announced with some cool nights and early mornings. Then it might even get fairly warm, or even hot, during the day.
It struck me that autumn had not yet come, but I was on the edge of autumn. I am not sure I had ever thought about it that way. As I normally think about edges, they usually are sharp. Maybe because it has been those sharp edges that typically caused pain when I recklessly played and bumped into one!
But as I now ponder edges, I realize they do not all have to be sharp. And they do not all have to be painful. What all edges do, however, is they mark limits. When you come to an edge, you have come to the limit of the space in which you find yourself. Edge does not have to be dangerous nor scary. But edges have taken you out of the middle of it.
The edge of autumn comes with different light, cooler air, and a promise of falling leaves. They leaves have not fallen yet, but every morning now I watch a few of the “premature fallers” glide to the ground. They are like prophets---the harbingers of what is to come. The leaves have not even turned into their multi-colored last act before falling. But I know we are on the edge of that beautiful miracle. The curtain is going up on this year’s autumn show.
Thinking about edges brings me back to awareness and the spiritual journey. I think awareness may be like the edge. When I am living unaware, it is like I am living right in the middle of my life-space. What I mean is I understand life-space to be determined by my own ego---my own person. It is a life-space affected significantly by my culture, by others, and by the normalcy of my ordinary life. It is not bad, but it too easily settles for bland.
I always think, “I can do better.” And I can. And then comes the inevitable “But…” And it does not matter what comes after the “But…” Anything after the “But…” leads to nothing. “But…” is a stopper. It is an intentionality-blunter. “But…” is always a way to say “not yet” or “tomorrow.” “But…” brings me from the edge of change and possibility and deposits me right back in the middle of my blandness and nothingness. I have opted for living rather than being alive!
I am now realizing I need to spend more time at the edge. If I can be present there, I can get the Spirit when it initially comes. If I can be patient there, I will be prepared to be receptive when that Spirit blows around the edge. That is a good image for me. I think the Spirit of the Divine often is blowing so softly, so gently that it is difficult to discover or discern if we are living right in the middle of our life-spaces.
Certainly, right in the middle of life-spaces we can be aware of the hurricanes of the Spirit. But like the Caribbean Sea, there are seasons of hurricanes. And if I am not at the edge, much of the time I will miss the gentle blowing of the fresh winds of the Spirit.
So where will I find the edges of my life-space? “Easy,” I conclude. The edge of life-space is at the point of awareness. We are in our culture all the time. We have a context all the time. Every moment is a sitting duck for spiritual encounter. Every occasion is pregnant with possibility.
If I am aware, then I can pay attention. And if I pay attention, then I will see when and where to act. See you at the edge!