The Place Where God Lives
I opened my eyes around 6:30 am and spent half an hour in prayer, as usual. Orthodox mystics have a different view on spirituality than Eastern philosophers, and say that if we do not invite Christ in our hearts and in our inner silence, demons and other unwanted beings could find their home there and begin to torment us through fears and nightmares. While I am not so advanced in my spiritual practices to have an informed opinion about it, I feel closest with the teachings and the love of Jesus. Therefore every morning I surrender my life to the Holy Spirit:
“Heavenly Father, I give my body, my mind and my heart to You, today.
Make me the instrument of Your love, and use me to your purpose.
My will is to do your will.”
I opened my eyes after my prayer and found an email that, in an instant, threw me into the pit of frustration and fear. I have been working on a project – not a project, but the dream of my life – for more than 5 years, and now, in the very final stage, the others are considering to shut it down, declare it a failure, and take everything away from me. A wave of anxiety flashed through my body as my eyes raced across my phone to read the message. I put on my shoes and ran up the hill to the house where the Soul Mechanic was living.
“I can lose everything. If they say No, I have no idea what to do. I am literally thousands of miles away from home, I cannot afford to buy a plane ticket if I need to leave the island, and I have very little money to be here. Why do people do this?” I said to him, trumping around the house and pounding my phone to my leg.
“Let’s go for a drive, I want to show you where God lives” said the Soul Mechanic.
“Did you hear me what I just said? My future hangs in the decision of someone who doesn’t really care about what happens to me and my business, and you want to go show me where God lives? I had prayed and hoped and worked for 5 years for this thing. What kind of joke is this?” I asked him.
Hawaii is a tropical paradise, with ancient flowers and palm trees and wild bananas hanging in the streets. The pineapple is growing behind my little cottage on the farm, and I can pick papayas from the tree just by reaching out through my bedroom window. Warm showers of rain caress the island early in the morning and late in the afternoon. But Hawaii is also very hot and humid, which for me is the most difficult weather to bear. I feel bliss when I walk in a blizzard, I’ve been to the North and the South Pole and walked outside in T-shirts, I feel God when the frost and the wind cuts through my skin, but humidity and tropical heat drives me insane. I suffocate, I cannot breathe, and my brain shuts down.
We drove for two hours along the coast, and then after a sharp turn we started to ascend on a narrow dirt road up into the mountains. In just minutes, the clouds that had put me in agony for so many weeks were below us. The trees, the plants, the flowers, and the birds disappeared from sight. Only the clear blue sky and the red desert plateau laid in front of us. We were driving up on Mauna Kea – the 13,000 feet (4200 m) dormant volcano in the middle of the Pacific ocean.
We sped by the visitors center and with the corner of my eye I glimpsed a message on the information board: “Visitors must stop here for 30 minutes to acclimatize. It is extremely dangerous to drive up without stopping to adjust to the altitude. The lack of oxygen on the summit can cause medical problems.” We didn’t stop. As the truck ascended to altitude, the air stopped in my chest, and I couldn’t inhale a full breath of air anymore. My heart was aching with a mild discomfort, and my head was pulsating in faint bursts of pain.
We parked the car on the top of the Mauna Kea summit and stepped outside. I froze. The temperature had dropped from terrible heat and humidity at sea level, to below freezing air and steel gusts of wind. My body was shivering in desperation, trying to generate a little bit of heat to survive, but my soul was happy. I looked down from mountain and saw clouds covering the island in all directions, I caught a glimpse of another Pacific island in the distance (I later found out that was Maui), and the sun blazing above me.
“Wow… This is where God lives” I said to the Mechanic. The view was spectacular. He laughed, and then put his giant hand around my shoulder, and took me for a walk on the plateau.
“God lives in the Now ” he said. “Not here on the mountain. Now, in this holy place in the eternity of time, not in space. This beautiful holy instant holds no problems, no worries, and no fears. I hope you aren’t so stupid to have actually believed me when I told you I will show you where God lives.” We laughed together. I had actually believed him, but I decided to keep quiet. As Mark Twain used to say: “It is far better to be quiet and let people assume you’re stupid, than to open your month and remove all doubt.”
“I brought you here on the mountain so you can shut up, and stop fretting about your projects. Plus, I knew you will love the frost. I drove past the visitors center and didn’t stop to acclimatize with the altitude to knock your brain out of balance. I cut off your oxygen when we got here. You were driving me crazy with what will happen if this, what might happen if that” he continued. “Who knows!? You will see when you get there. Worry today about today and let tomorrow worry about tomorrow.
There is always perfect peace in the holy present moment , but you always drag the pain of the past or the nightmare of the future over this moment, until you become blind to it. The peace is still there, and all you have to do is return to it, focus on it. Beyond the torment of your mind, beneath the waves of anxiety in your body, there awaits the holy present moment where God lives. Nothing can hurt you there, because in that mustard seed in your heart, only you and God meet. Only you and God live there, and only there, as one.
I have no idea what will happen with your work, but I know you will always find peace in the Now.”
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