Thirsty For Wonder

Mirabai Starr

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Image of the WeekContemplative life flows in a circular pattern: awe provokes introspection, which invokes awe.

Maybe you’re making dinner and you step outside to snip chives from the kitchen garden just as the harvest moon is rising over the easterslopes. She is full and golden, like one of those pregnant women who radiate from within. Suddenly you cannot bear the beauty. Scissors suspended in your hand, tears pooling at the corners of your eyes, you nearly quit breathing. Your gaze softens, and the edges of your individual identity fade. You are absorbed into the heart of the moon. It feels natural, and there is no other place you’d rather be. But the onions are burning, and so you turn away and cut your herbs and go back inside. You resume stirring the sauce and setting the table.

This is not the first time you have disappeared into something beautiful. You have experienced the unfettering of the subject-object distinction while holding your daughter’s hand as she labored to give birth to your grandson; when you curled up in bed with your dying friend and sang her Haskiveinu, the Hebrew prayer for a peaceful sleep; while yielding to your [loved ones]. You have lost yourself in heartbreak, then lost the desire to ever regain yourself, then lost your fear of death. You long ago relinquished your need for cosmic order and personal control. You welcome unknowingness.

Which is why seemingly ordinary moments like moonrises undo you. The veil has been pulled back. Everything feels inexhaustibly holy. [...] Your soul had been formed in the forge of life’s losses, galvanized in the crucible of community, fertilized by the rain of relationship, blessed by your intimacy with Mother Earth. You have glimpsed the face of the Divine where you least expected it.

And this is why you cultivate contemplative practice. The more you intentionally turn inward, the more available the sacred becomes.  When you sit in silence and turn your gaze toward the Holy Mystery you once called God, the Mystery follows you back out into the world.  When you walk with a purposeful focus on breath and bird song, your breathing and the twitter of the chickadee reveal themselves as a miracle. When you eat your burrito mindfully, gratitude for every step that led to the perfect combination of beans and cheese and tortilla — from grain and sunlight to rain and migrant labor — fills your heart and renders you even more inclined to be grateful.

So sit down to meditate not only because it helps you to find rest in the arms of the formless Beloved but also because it increases your chance of being stunned by beauty when you get back up. Encounters with the sacred that radiate from the core of the ordinary embolden you to cultivate stillness and simple awareness. In the midst of a world that is begging you to distract yourself, this is no easy practice. Yet you keep showing up. You are indomitable. You are thirsty for wonder.

An except from Wild Mercy.

Seed questions for reflection: What does welcoming unknowingness mean to you? Can you share an experience of a time the sacred became more available to you? What helps you pull the veil back?

Add Your Reflection:

9 Previous Reflections:

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    On Mar 9, 2021 Anilkumar Pandit wrote:
    Like to gratefully acknowledge the filling of heart, even while reading such posts. Hearty thanks !

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    On Mar 9, 2021 Donna janus wrote:
    Thank you for this beauty.....tears of gratitude....thirsty for being..

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    On Mar 9, 2021 Patrick wrote:
    Ah, green pastures and quiet waters. And I'm reminded of Rumi -- "Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about."

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    On Mar 9, 2021 Usha Amin wrote:
    Glimpse of the Divine where you least expect- beautifully crafted article opening the contemplative mind to wonderment. Many thanks to Mirabai for bringing this to us.

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    On Mar 9, 2021 mamta nanda wrote:
    Thank you for helping me look at my experiences of wonder through this lens. Reading this has helped me soften towards myself, for those moments of disappearance when I thought I was not being present. This writing is incredibly beautiful and liberating.

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    On Mar 8, 2021 AK wrote:
    Beautiful expression! Could feel the spontaneous flow. God bless.

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    On Mar 6, 2021 David Doane wrote:
    Mirabai Starr's essay is inspiring. We want certainty, and we pretend to know. But life is unknown, and we live in uncertainty, so welcoming unknowingness means welcoming life. For me, all creation, living and not living, is a manifestation of God in form, and all creation is sacred. The sacred is always available and sometimes I am more aware of it than others. I was driving at dusk and the sky was a beautiful array of colors and clouds that was so compellingto take in that it was hard to drive. In that experience, my awareness was intensified that all creation including that glorious sky is sacred.What helps me pull the veil back is faith that there is a behind the veil that is eternal and infinite Existence and Presence.

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    On Mar 5, 2021 Jagdish P Dave wrote:
    Reading the essay Thirsty For Wonder authored by MirabaiStarr stirred up thirst for wonder in me. I welcome such thought provoking writings and I am thankful to Mirabai for offering this gift to us. Her writing made me introspect and reflect. It is my experience and observation that we usually stay in the known zone. It is relatively a safe zone. However, there are times when I want to beyond the known zone-the unknown zone, the zone of unkowingness. This is wonderland for me where beauty unfoldsherself effortlessly, an unheardsound resounds in the heart, and the sky of the mind is clear and is filled with divine light. It is an eye kissing light, heart feelingsound. The sacred or the divine is always present but our eyes are closed to see it.I need to cleanse my eyes to see the unkowingness; to open my ears to hear the unheard sound; to open my hands to receive the Divine Gift and open my heart to feel the Divine Presence. I experiencesuch moments when I am fully present in the prese... [View Full Comment] Reading the essay Thirsty For Wonder authored by MirabaiStarr stirred up thirst for wonder in me. I welcome such thought provoking writings and I am thankful to Mirabai for offering this gift to us. Her writing made me introspect and reflect. It is my experience and observation that we usually stay in the known zone. It is relatively a safe zone. However, there are times when I want to beyond the known zone-the unknown zone, the zone of unkowingness. This is wonderland for me where beauty unfoldsherself effortlessly, an unheardsound resounds in the heart, and the sky of the mind is clear and is filled with divine light. It is an eye kissing light, heart feelingsound.

    The sacred or the divine is always present but our eyes are closed to see it.I need to cleanse my eyes to see the unkowingness; to open my ears to hear the unheard sound; to open my hands to receive the Divine Gift and open my heart to feel the Divine Presence. I experiencesuch moments when I am fully present in the present moment with me, with someone close to me and with nature. It happens when I do not try to make it happen. It happens when I meditate; when I teach or help someone needing help. Such experiences enrich me and lift me up.
    Quiet, clear and uncloudedmind helps me to pull the veil back. The veil clouds my consciousness and creates separateness and disconnect. When the veil is pulled back, I see the light of oneness, one unifiedconsciousness. Such experiences are sacred. They deepen my thirstfor wonder. This is an inward journey. Daily practice of Mindfulness Meditation, being in the company of kindred spirits called satsanga, readinginspiring and enlighteningbooks or poems and serving people unselfishly helps me in my spiritual journey.
    Namaste!
    Jagdish P Dave'


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