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Two different worlds at once.
March 28, 2021
One of the most amazing and wondrous experiences of my life happened several years ago while hiking in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. The plan for the week was to hike the Appalachia Mountain Club trails during the day and to stay overnight at various huts along the mountain trails. On the first day and several hours into the climb, I looked up to find myself in what seemed to be two different worlds at once. While both of my feet were on the same hiking trail, one foot was planted on the earth covered with autumn leaves while the other foot landed in several inches of snow. On one side of me, I watched as leaves let go of their branches and floated to the ground in an array of beautiful autumn colors. On the other side, trees were covered with sparkling white snowflakes and the ground was blanketed in several inches of snow. In that moment, one side of my world was a cloudy autumn day, and the other a forest covered in a mantle of falling snow. Two simultaneous yet different experiences, and both at one with the universe and God. I remember it was perfectly quiet, as it is sometimes after a snowstorm, and I stood still, in awe of the beauty of nature and the wonder of God. The experience – somewhat disorienting and beautiful at the same time.
The scripture readings for today remind me of my time hiking in the mountains. I wonder if Jesus, as he rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, was also experiencing dual knowings. On one hand, he triumphantly enters Jerusalem as he is hailed by the crowds as the Savior. They shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Alternately, and at the same time, he “knows” that the adulation of the crowd will be short-lived. He will soon be crucified and will suffer greatly before the Passion is finished and culminates in the Resurrection. Jesus both fully human and fully divine holds two worlds at the same time. In what is a mystery to our human way of knowing, Jesus has the dual experience on Palm Sunday as the person hailed by the crowds as Savior, while at the same time he “knows” the darkness of the coming Crucifixion. These experiences of Jesus are additionally grounded in his awareness that he is the Son of God, awaiting the light of God to break through in the Resurrection. The understanding of Jesus is not a knowing of oppositions, as is our human knowing, but an all-knowing: a dimension of consciousness greater than thought. What Jesus knows in his understanding, we can also have some awareness of in our consciousness, through prayer and meditation. Additionally, as our consciousness deepens, our ability to love expands.
Jesus teaches us, as he lives fully into the moment of his triumphal ride into Jerusalem, that he must also let go of that experience to allow for the coming Crucifixion and Resurrection. The life of Jesus is an example for us of living fully into the moment we have, while at the same time knowing we must let go of it and empty so that we can also be open to the mystery and the miracle of life unfolding. We are blessed with the understanding that Jesus is at one with us in our human experience of pain and joy at the cross roads. He is always with us even when we doubt, and it seems as though he is absent. Through the Passion of Jesus, God lets us know that he is at one with us in all. God understands and walks with us in the mystery that we cannot fully know or hurry, for it unfolds in God’s way, in God’s time, and always in God’s love.