Sunday, June 9, 2013

Beloved Presence


     Several years ago I wrote a blog about the many paths of God and how I honor them in different ways. At that time my husband and I were attending the same Red Door Presbyterian Church every Sunday. Now we alternate between our old church and the Unitarian-Universalist Society. When we're able to make the 90-mile trip to Albany we like to visit the Unity Church. When we go to the Red Door Church we hear the familiar old stories about Jesus and his ancestors and see our old friends. We attend the other churches to experience the Divine in different ways, and to hear new and different ideas.

     While I love to hear the stories of God's love from the Bible, I also like to be reminded that Divine Love is known in other cultures and other religions. Today's reading in the Unitarian service is from Shams Ud-Dun Mohammad Hafiz, a Muslim, and it is beautiful:

Beloved Presence

Cloak yourself in a thousand ways;
still shall I know you, my Beloved.

Veil yourself with every
and yet I shall feel you,
most dear, close and intimate.

I shall salute you in the springing 
of cypresses
and in the sheen of lakes, the 
laughter of fountains.

I shall surely see you in 
tumbling clouds,
in brightly embroidered

Oh, Beloved Presence, more
beautiful than
all the stars together,

I trace your face in ivy that
in clusters of grapes,
in morning flaming the
in the clear arch of sky.

You gladden the whole earth and
make every heart great.

You are the breathing of the

     The talk for today was about the Koran, and how it compares to the Bible. The similarity lies in the stories of violence and massacre in which both the God of the early Hebrews and Allah urge their worshipers to slay those who do not pay homage to the "one true God." It is because of these passages in both holy books that I contend there is a great deal of the human ego intermixed with whatever divine inspiration lies behind these scriptures. I see more of the divine in Hafiz's poem than I see in any scriptural stories of violence. 

     If there is ever to be peace and unity in this world, people will first have to recognize how the human ego has inserted itself into the scriptures and teachings of  our religions. The simple truth is that the Prime Creator of this universe is Love, and every bit of Creation is part of that Love from which we emanate. Anything that is not of Love is of the fear and ego that want to be separate from and better than others. I visit different churches and different spiritual groups in search of those who follow this simple teaching. I find the teachings of Love and the teachings of Ego everywhere I go - thus my reason for not choosing a single church or path to follow.

     I recently saw the movie "Life of Pi" in which Pi's parents tell him he is making a mistake by trying to  embrace several different religions. They want him to choose one, even if it's not the same one as theirs. I love the way Pi finds the Divine in a variety of spiritual practices, because he can choose the highest and best of each path, thus growing closer to God than he might if he followed the best and worst parts of a single faith. I think the time has come in human evolution when more and more people will follow the way of Love and Oneness as taught by a variety of divine teachers, realizing that a multi-strand path can take them higher than a one-lane highway. And the Beloved Presence can be felt in any church, in Nature, in our homes, and everywhere we go!

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