The spiritual is experienced, not understood

I have fallen into a classic intellectual trap. Others told me this could happen, but their warnings were so vague and mysterious and, well, spiritual-sounding that my rational mind ignored it.

Their timeless counsel follows:

“The Holy Spirit cannot be defined verbally. It has to be lived and experienced directly,” said Bishop Kallistos Ware.

“No one has ever seen the essence of God, but we believe in the essence because we experience the energy,” said St. Basil.

“True mysticism is to discover the extraordinary in the ordinary,” suggested Olivier Clement.

And the Holy Bible had some things to say about the Spirit as well:

It’s like a dove, a fire, a cloud of light, a rushing wind, and breath. Then again, it’s not only these things, it added.   

I can’t hold a flame of fire or contain the rushing wind or capture a cloud of light as it’s forming overhead. I yell at all of these intangible things and request their cooperation in being known.

Meanwhile, the angels are laughing.  

“Climb into the controlled confines of my limited human mind,” I demand. 

The Spirit’s reply is silent, remaining a conceptual abstraction of an abstruse other-worldly reality.

In attempting to know the spiritual realm, I’m greeted by more mysteries, more dark clouds of unknowing, more blinding lights, and fire too hot to handle.

“Simmer down!” I yell. But they whirl and bend and permeate everything, then show up as nothing.

“It’s not to be comprehended,” I’m reminded by a passing thought, an angel perhaps. “It’s an experience you’ll have and then retell in the form of metaphors just like what’s been done for you.”

And so I shrug my shoulders and shake my head, admitting a stubborn surrender, and then begin to trust my way out of this mind-made trap.

...ramble on...

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