From the work in progress Life: A Book About Learning to Live
By Jim Rosemergy
Different is the mask of a playful Creator.
When I was a young student, I learned that gravity was the force of attraction of the earth upon any object in its gravitational field. Many years later, I began to understand Einstein’s assertion that what we call gravity is actually the mass of the earth bending space and time – actually space-time. This is the way of things. Years pass, and a discovery is refined and therefore becomes more true.
Such things cause me to wonder if the law of giving and receiving is not the result of oneness – that when we give to another, we are actually giving to ourselves. Perhaps oneness is the great, undiscovered reality that underlies all creation.
Appearances tell another story. Not only are we not one, we are legion; we are many. To the eye, this is obvious, but the eye is easily deceived. The sun and stars appear to circle the earth. The earth appears to be flat. The human species is varied and different, but different does not deny oneness. Perhaps different is a mask worn by a playful Creator who waits for us to look beneath the surface of things.
I believe different is the periphery of life. It is the veneer. Different is skin deep, and as long as we are content to live on the edge of life, our lives will be shallow, but the day will come when we begin to wonder if life is more than it appears to be. On this day, we will ask whether different is all there is.
We will peek behind the mask of our playful God because from time to time, different touches us in ways that puzzle and confuse us. One moment the mask is in place, and different seems real. In the next moment, the mask is briefly removed, and different things are known to be related to one another.
The unmasking often happens when we are alone in the natural world. Recently, I learned of a man who was sitting on a rocky ledge near the sea on a fog shrouded day when suddenly two eagles appeared out of the midst directly in front of him. The birds veered away from him, and his eyes met theirs. He said that the happening was the most meaningful experience of his life.
When we dwell on the surface of life, such a happening is soon forgotten. We feel lucky that we were not struck by the eagles, but when we are willing to venture beyond appearances and leave the shallows for deeper waters, something greater emerges.
Oneness often first shows itself through nature. Those things that appear to be different are discovered to be united in mysterious ways. And the oneness expands beyond the natural world and extends to our oneness with one another. Even those of us who seem so different.
Many years ago, I visited a convicted murderer in a maximum security prison. He talked, and I listened intently. My total focus was on him. For a time, I forgot myself, and in the forgetting, something happened to me. I was moved not by his story, but by the experience of our oneness. On the surface, we had little in common, but beneath the mask was a single face. Today, I do not remember a single word that was spoken, but I do remember at the conclusion of the visitation time placing my hand upon the thick glass that separated us. He put his huge hand on the glass as if to touch my hand. The gesture of two hands declared one shared experience of oneness.
Oneness exists. We are one with the creation, with the things that fly and those that crawl. We are united with distant stars and grains of sand. Oneness is the great reality, and the least understood principle in the universe. I can sense that its implications are immense. William Blake caught its essence in a few words, “To see the world in a grain of sand, to hold eternity in the palm of your hand.”
Many of us have similar experiences, but we discount them. We see the sacred self in all creation, but cannot believe what we have seen and the conclusion we have drawn. It is more mysterious than we can bear. Of course it is. Life is pure mystery. Oneness is its greatest reality, and the one thing that is most unknown. It isn’t logical. It’s too big to wrap our mental minds around it. Of course, such things are meant to touch us rather than for us to touch them.
Roses are this way. Why would a flower so beautiful have stems with thorns? The message is clear: Beauty is to touch us; we are not to touch it. Much in life is this way.
People through the ages, people every day, experience an interconnectedness, oneness. They may not live out of the oneness, but nearly everyone has had or will have a moment in eternity when he or she feels unified with creation or another person.
Oneness often begins with an encounter in nature. Something happens, and we never forget it. It is a memory we usually hold close to ourselves. We tell only those we think can understand. We tell the story and then ask, Has anything like that ever happened to you? Sometimes I wonder if it actually happened, but I know it did.