Thursday, November 14, 2013

France Day 2: Epiphany

The first guilty pleasure of the day is a chocolate croissant with cafe au lait. In Los Angeles, one must scour the city for a bakery that has mastered the art. In France, a delicious, fluffy croissant is as commonplace as a loaf of Wonderbread at a Seven-Eleven.

But more pressing items occupy the day than a gourmand's trip through culinary delights. God for one. We are attending the 33e Festival International du Films d'Amiens, where my husband's involvement spans 25 years. This eclectic festival hosts films from cultures worldwide, and the city is home to several famous Gothic cathedrals. At night they evoke thoughts of demons and poltergeist, a natural association considering the cathedral's relationship to organized religion.

One of the smaller cathedrals in town

What lurks within...

A belief in the grandeur of God and ecclesiastic materialism inspired these ornate structures. In comparison to the utter simplicity of a Hopi kiva, these convoluted structures seem over the top. But the presence of the elephantine monuments, including one of the grandaddy cathedrals of Europe (seen below from my hotel window), do elevate one's thoughts by the sheer dominance of the energy they hold.

The main cathedral stands in the background

Thus, while sitting at a local restaurant not understanding one word of the rapid-fire French spoken at our film-buff table, my mind wanders off and trips into a deep void. An epiphany needn't happen in a grand cathedral or in the deep forest or parched desert expanse; jewels pop up in the most unlikely places.

I remember the time when I lay in a hospital bed two years prior, when a second round of chemo nearly killed my mortal coil by annihilating its white and red blood cells. Nine transfusions later, the little fellows decided to grasp onto their injected compadres and piggy back into the land of the living to begin multiplying again.

In that 'in between time' when the decision for life or death hung in the balance, a distinct vision presented itself. High in the stratosphere, a cloud bank hid what was above it, and the 'what' seemed like God, or at least some energy with endless power and a conscious will. Not even the archangels could go above the cloud bank to a place beyond.

Looking up at that citadel, I understood life to be a vast mandala of insubstantial thoughts, which to the normal mind assume vast importance. It was neither important nor unimportant if I hung around the earth plane or left. I just "was" in the presence.

Since that blessed experience, life has become simpler and more filled of gratitude. As for the ephipany in the cafe, it is about doing a mea culpa for all my previous God bashing. Still, the idea of calling God a Him or perceiving "that" as a dualistic dude or dudette that rules above all life seems incorrect to me. Yet, an intelligent presence does have an overarching effect if we allow ourselves to feel it.

We humans can harnass this vast energy, like a light bulb illuminates through a power station generating electricity from natural sources. The whole magilla of existence boils down to an interdependent force which flows around and throughout every cell; the drive chain, so to speak, of life here and beyond.

Amen, Ahamdulillah, Shalom, Namaste, praise Buddha and all the other names humans give or not give to "it."


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