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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

When the Soul Short-Circuits

by Lauren Van Ham

I see that the life of this place is always emerging beyond expectation or prediction or typicality, that it is unique, given to the world minute by minute, only once, never to be repeated. And this is when I see that this life is a miracle, absolutely worth having, absolutely worth saving. We are alive within mystery, by miracle.”                                                          
~ Wendell Berry, Life is a Miracle: An Essay Against Modern Superstition

Last Wednesday morning, I was traveling from Berkeley to San Francisco, on BART (the train system).  Last Wednesday was October 31st.  On any other October 31st, the morning BART commute might be more colorful than usual, it’s true; AND this wasn't just any other October 31st.  It was also the day San Francisco was welcoming home their Giants, the 2012 World Series champions.  The train cars were PACKED, each one teeming with humans dressed in orange and black which - conveniently enough – satisfied themes for baseball and Halloween.  Above ground, the streets near City Hall were buzzing.  Even those clearly dressed for business-as-usual appeared tickled, caught in the contagion of winning, solidarity, city pride. 

But that wasn't all that was happening last Wednesday. 

As the Bay Area was celebrating, the East Coast was trying to make heads-and-tails of itself in the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy.  It was also the day before All Saint’s Day, which is the day before All Soul’s Day, less than a week before the US election, and…and…and…what else was happening right now that I (mercifully) wasn't even aware of?!!?

In moments like these, my soul short-circuits. 

In my effort to be present, with my intention to fully appreciate life’s joys and sorrows, my chest tightens.  My mind becomes that hourglass on my computer desktop -- you know the one!

I've come to feel grateful for these moments.  Like my computer, I “freeze” for a moment and notice all that’s happening.  I breathe, I pray, I ask for help and send blessings wherever I can.  I love the way Wendell Berry says it above, “And this is when I see that this life is a miracle, absolutely worth having, absolutely worth saving.” 

What happens for you when your soul short-circuits?  What in this (miraculous) life, do you have?  What are you willing (or wishing) to save?

About Lauren: Lauren lives in Berkeley, CA.  She serves as the Dean of Interfaith Studies at The Chaplaincy Institute and tends a private Spiritual Direction practice.  You can read Lauren’s blog at: http://www.laurenvanham.com/

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