Recently I had an uplifting phone conversation with my dear friend Terry, a Lutheran Pastor who lives in North Carolina. He caught me in the afternoon, after many hours immersed in deep meditation and contemplation. An illness-induced, stay-at- home day where I used all my spare time to be in the Beloved Presence.
Terry and I have a great time communing, with humorous exchanges, lots of laughter and always, always an emphasis on Spirit. But during this exchange, there was a magnified chemistry and shared love of Christ. At one point during our discussion, I was revealing insight gleaned from the ongoing, chronic illness experience:
“Well, Terry.” I paused. “This illness has brought a deeper surrender. I’ve been barely able to function many times, not able to work on some days, not knowing how rent would be paid and magically money would appear. It’s happened in so many ways. This deepens faith!”
“You’ve really come into Christ.”
It was true and my word choices were effortlessly falling in alignment with authentic Christian values. My expression more acceptable, in most cases, even to those with conservative religious views.
Terry and I first met in 2001, in Utah’s Heber Valley, before vast swaths of horse pasture and open space farmland turned this little village community, once nicknamed ‘little Switzerland’ into a mini-metropolis after the 2002 Winter Olympics swept in.
With newly acquired townhouses set in a quiet and still rural development, we lived across the street from one another in this small, predominantly-Mormon village. Though a Lutheran Pastor, Terry was open to any kind of authentic wisdom and truth teaching. Though he always kept his Bible close at hand, Terry was not put off by my fascination with the spiritual teachings of the East, nor my status as the local hatha yoga teacher.
Awakening to the deepest truth came in waves of ecstasy when I began to surrender my petty problems, repetitious thoughts, and need for approval. Any time I felt ill at ease, I would inquire: “What am I, really.” Then, naturally, I would return to the true Christ, falling into that ever available and vast spaciousness. All I did was turn within, become still, patiently sit and yearn with a longing heart.
No one is turned away from the Divine Table; only they must be sincere.
I grew up skeptical of religion. Still, Jesus Christ intrigued and at times awed me. Like a tiny kindling fire, fed only tinder, this intrigue and awe has grown into a massive inner fire, fueled by an authentic love of truth.
I’ve always felt that churches put a wall between you and the true Christ. I wanted to be a genuine devotee, a true disciple of Christ, nestled up close at His Table (the divine spaciousness). I felt a yearning to be so close that I could literally take the Bread from His Hand, be moved to tears via the Eternal Sparkle in his Eyes and Elevated by the Soulful-Grandeur of His Presence.
Direct experience of Christ was the only option. Doctrinal readings and other religious rituals felt hollow and without real substance. Talk of satan, wickedness and evil made no sense to me, until I realized that these words were really referring to aspects of egoity, the narrow and distorted viewpoint when one does not see the Eternal and Real but instead becomes lost in worldly life-that which comes and goes.
I wanted to touch Eternal Life and know it as Absolute Truth. I was not after a long distance relationship; I wanted to whisper into Christ’s Ear and have Him hold my heart in His Enduring Embrace.
Ramana Maharshi, the spiritual luminary I have written about at times, was once asked about the Bible and Christianity. He said:
“‘Be still and know that I AM God’. This is the essence of the Bible.” He further elucidated: “Here stillness is total surrender without a vestige of personality. If personality goes, God is found to shine forth pure. ”
And Yogananda, a true lover of Christ came to America to, as he said, “bring a special dispensation of the scriptures” – and promote the one Reality behind all the world’s religions. He had a specific focus on Christianity when he arrived in America in 1920. In one of the last talks given before his passing, at an all day Christmas meditation in 1951, he said with immense spiritual fervor:
“The Heavenly Father gave us the great example of Christ, who had all the powers in the world and still he refused to except his body as Reality. That’s why he said: ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do…’ (Christ clearly realized that those, Pharisees and Romans, who had sent him to die on the cross were lost in egoity and delusion).
“…They are just playing a part. Even if they destroy this body (via crucifixion) ‘I’ (my true Soul nature as the Eternal Christ) cannot depart. That’s what Jesus realized. He became Christ. ‘I and my Father are one’. That’s what we all must realize…”
For as Jesus Christ said in Luke 22:19: “And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.'”
What is the true remembrance of Jesus Christ?
It is turning your attention inward to Christ, for you won’t find him out there somewhere in the world, in all the materialism. You won’t find Him in the gaining of wealth or fame, etc.
You find Him by tuning into the quiet, deep Self, the Soul. It is here that you will find Him and find that HE has always been here, available and patiently waiting for us to want to be with Him.
When you eat His Bread, you become one with Christ. When you seek Christ and ingest Him, then there is true communion. His invitation is eternal but we must accept the invitation, for when we do, our True Home is found. Our Soul merges into Him, dissolving all sense of being a separate individual and releasing us from suffering.
So, I find myself residing at Christ’s Table, abiding and tasting the everlasting communion. For we are never separate from Christ.
His Bread is the divine presence, the intimate oneness that resides in all hearts.