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The world – not that illusory realm of planning and memories we wander in sleep, but that mysterious temple with the infinite blue ceiling and grassy carpets and rustling creatures going about their business – is astonishing. Emerging from a stupor of client service or home maintenance or other scheduled activity, I am always amazed by the sheer beauty of it.
During the day, it’s brilliantly lit. The trees stand sentinel or gently rock themselves over flowering fields. It’s so real that it’s surreal.
During the night, it’s cloaked and mysterious. The owls call across the darkness under the pale and loving gaze of the moon. It too is beyond mental conjuring, when you’re fully present to it.
But, just as we rise and fall in consciousness through our days and nights, just as our health cycles through our summers and winters, most of us waver in our presence. We are here, astonished, captivated – and then our minds dash away into some illusion of past or future or utter fabrication.
Enter the comfort of a toothache. My upper-right wisdom tooth, for me, these days. But for you, perhaps the toothache is the sudden dog bark when you’re meditating, or a car problem, or some pointless disagreement with a family member or friend. These things are, when you desire the world of illusion and fabrication, distractions. When you imagine that your identity is somehow tied up in what you do or perceive or have, then these are problems.
But, if you change course and desire the true world, that magical place that can only be gotten to with complete and utter presence of being, through mindfulness, the toothache is a comfort.
Just as your mind starts to dash away, the pain in your back brings you back to the mystery of this current moment and unfolding grace.
Just as you begin to think about your project at work, the numbness in your legs recalls you back to right here, right now.
The toothache is a comfort because it’s a call back home. If you look at the things you’ve been struggling with as an invitation from the Beloved to return to the Kingdom, then surely you can be glad that you are pulled back to the current moment – where the door is, where the veil is thinnest.
Yes indeed, we must thank God we’re not left purely to our own devices.