Spending time within the golden light of an aspen grove, I can sense a radiant Presence living within my heart as well. This Presence is itself a kind of gold, loving warmth, just like that of the aspens. Whenever I exhale into my heart, this Presence begins to come alive, similar to a breeze blowing gently on sleeping embers.
This Presence, though gentle, also possesses a warrior-like strength, one which is able endlessly to hold lovingly in tension all of the opposites of life. Silence and words, thoughts and no-thoughts, forms and emptiness, sadness and joy, life and death, traditional and non-traditional approaches to religion, East and West, Muslim and Jew, Christian and Native American, atheist and theist, masculine and feminine, gay and straight, liberal and conservative, Nature and humanity - all are held in loving tension by the enormous yet gentle strength of this Presence - embraced and enfolded until they all begin to soften and melt together into One, singular, fascinating multi-faceted reality. But this softening and this melting cannot be forced; they must be allowed to occur in their own time. My task, it seems - and that of all of us, really - is simply to awaken this Presence within our hearts, hold together the opposite poles of life within Its warm embrace, and then wait.
Though enormously strong, this Presence does not care to be known or named. It has no need to point to itself, and It does not ask that others even recognize Its existence. For It is content to remain a hidden ground upon which all beings and events are able to reveal themselves in all of their radiant sacredness. This Presence is, in fact, completely given over through love and ecstatic bliss into OUR humanity, into OUR creative awareness. Because of Its innate self-emptying, this Presence is unfortunately or fortunately incapable of stopping those who would use It to justify oppression and egoic bigotry. For It is forever lost to Itself and completely emptied out into OUR power. It is left, therefore, to US to GROW UP and to look beyond our own narrow concerns to the Whole of which ALL things are a part.
Although this hidden presence prefers not to be named, I cannot help but name It. I love this Presence very much, for it is the Ground of who I am, even though I generally prefer not to speak of It. Its name is . . .
And the warrior-like capacity of this Presence to hold all opposites lovingly in tension until they soften and melt together is . . . precisely . . .
And this Presence - and this Cross - are living and active within every last one of us, and in every plant and every animal species, and in every landscape and every seascape and every skyscape as well .
Photos: Aspens in the Rawah Range and Kebler Pass areas, CO, September 21 and 26, 2015
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Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.