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Heaven Is Not What We Think

The tiger lilies are coming into bloom. And my daughter Fionnghuala – who is six – recently bought her first camera. Every time she takes a picture she can’t wait to see it. As a result, she always swirls the camera to see the image. That – plus a strong breeze coming in from the west – renders these lilies somewhat fluid and translucent.


And I love them! There is a spirit – a light – behind everything we perceive with our physical eyes. And often we only catch it on the sly. When we look directly or study fiercely or intensely desire a thing – beauty, awakening, peace – we miss it. To come to fruition, our attention has to own a sort of passivity. But A Course in Miracles promises this effortless effort is never in vain.

Loveliness can light your images, and so transform them that you will love them, even though they were made of hate (W-pI.23.4:5).

We are not really doing anything other than not really doing anything.

There is also movement: this was the critical insight of David Bohm. He taught us that thought is limited and moves within the unlimited. The suggestion in his work is that the unlimited is not necessarily spatial – going further and further into the universe, for example – but something subtler. We make contact with reality by moving within and through into its many folds, as it moves through us. That which we call God is itself the movement: of perception and attention, both. The unlimited is not unreachable once we give up reaching altogether.


Or as Emily Dickinson – patron saint of all who put the self aside in order to meet what is – and from whose poems and letters one need almost never lift their eyes – wrote:

Forever – is composed of Nows –

‘Tis not a different time  –

Thus, for me, these photographs capture an essence of what it means to blossom – beautifully, briefly – in time. We are all of us in motion going nowhere. Heaven – eternity – waits only on our recognition. It’s not what we think.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • zrinka July 6, 2013, 8:55 am

    Beautiful pictures made by a little swan lady! A child sees the motion, fluidity and translucency of everything. Eyes are still free of prejudice. Everywhere they see life, motion and possibility (of miracle). Sometimes I think all we adults have to do is rediscover our innocence and stop being so serious about everything. Playful attitude somehow puts think in motion:) Again, congratulations to the little artist and to her proud parents:)

    • Sean Reagan July 7, 2013, 7:50 am

      Thank you Zrinka . . . yeah, seriousness . . . it is a real hazard. I do think from time to time of the New Testament admonition to ‘become as little children.’ Beyond the theology and the crusty tradition and so forth what is the lesson? It must have to do with play and the natural conditions of innocence. Play does not hesitate is another thing – it simply follows joy and doesn’t question. The young are good teachers.

      “Little swan lady” was lovely and insightful, by the way. I am very grateful for your presence here, Zrinka. Thank you.

  • Zrinka July 7, 2013, 9:08 am

    Seriousness gives an innate urge to Question, but also disappointment when there is no right anwser (and there never is). My lifelong need to – seriously – understand what is it all about, gave me a lot of disappointments (over my lack of ability for perfect understanding) and one great lesson which I am still only learning to live. Instead of questioning (which often brings a sense of insecurity and lack of ground) I choose to play. Playing is same as questioning, but in it there is a feeling of safety and joy, assurance in life and love. Who has more questions than a playful child? And who has more wonderful answers (and visions) of Love than a child? That is because they feel Loved enough – to play. If only we trusted God as much as children trust their parents. Have a beautiful playful day with your lovely family! And thank you 🙂

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