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  • David Horst

Emergence of the spirit


I took a walk along the path that encircles Spaulding Pond in Mohegan Park one spring morning as clouds and drizzle came and went, allowing the sun at moments to spread warmth upon the dampened landscape and me.

I looked for signs of the infinite, the heralds of spring along the path where I walked: I saw the daffodils blossoming and winking, forsythia bushes in lavish yellow, and a lily of the valley bush with its perfect rows of bell-like blossoms, and the humble skunk cabbage pushing up bright-green shoots through the marsh.

I pondered the wondrous Web of Life where you and I and all beings are in nature and of nature in perfect proportion. I felt myself a part of the aliveness, on Spaulding Pond, imagining when and how life first emerged on our four-and-a-half billion-year-old earth. I thought about our human ancestors that were around for about six million years, the modern form of humans evolving about 200,000 years ago, and the civilization we now know existing for about 6,000 years.

Emerging life in Mohegan Park, on our earth, and throughout the universe is neither pre-determined nor haphazard, not an argument for God or against God but an interplay of creative events from which forms of life emerge, each more complex and more wondrous than before. Life keeps inventing itself, combining and recombining, dying off and rising up, reaching down, reaching out, forming and reforming, embracing and pushing apart, ceaselessly, in a world and universe without end.

When we recognize, when we hold within our beating hearts and feel deep in our bones, that we are part of a wondrous, fabulous, beautiful interconnected planet and universe that has emerged and is still emerging, that we ourselves and all sentient beings are made of star-stuff and will return to star stuff, then we know we and all things are holy.

I learned recently that one of the most spectacular features of the observable universe is the perfection and elegance of its expansion. If the rate of expansion had been slower, even slightly, even one-millionth of one percent slower, the universe would have re-collapsed after the Big Bang. And if the universe had expanded a little more quickly, even one-millionth of one percent faster, the universe would have expanded too fast for structures to form and diffusing into dust. One physicist, the late Freeman Dyson of Princeton University, wondered if the universe knew we were coming because from the moment of the great bursting forth, the conditions for life began to emerge.

Emerge we did, humankind and all life, eons later, in the not-too-slow, not-too-fast expansion of the holy universe of which are part and particle and always were.

Yet, in this Anthropocene age of wars, pandemics, and political strife, when human activity is the dominant influence on climate and the environment, we have created destruction and disorder, pain and suffering within the Web of Life. We are in a forbidding and deeply worrying time in human history. It’s as if collective darkness has enveloped us, exposing the shadow side of humanity and bringing forth the indecency of our humanity.

Some modern-day seers and prophets say these dark times foretell an awakening, a new age, a renewed manifestation of the peaceable, cooperative, equitable, compassionate, respectful, and generous spirit of humankind. I want to believe this or perhaps I need to believe this.

To usher in this new age, let us join together in awakenings spiritually, attuning to the vast mysterious intelligence, noticing the ceaseless emergence of the spirit, welcoming the light that overcomes the darkness, and giving praise and thanks for having a place in the always emerging and ever-expanding Web of Life.

I am one small human soul walking on earth, earth-bound but with cosmic consciousness, aware of the changing season and the emergence of spring, and attuned to the vastness and wonder of the emerging universe. May I be one with all sentient beings, here and above, each on their walk of life.

With feet on the earth and eyes to the sky, may I live in awareness and wonder, witnessing the daily creation.


Photo: Mohegan Park, Norwich, Connecticut

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