A veil lifted

I’ve been driving in Northumberland today – though aquaplaning might be a more accurate description. Sheeting rain falling in heavy torrents out of a leaden grey sky pressed down upon us. In marked contrast to yesterday’s cloudless blue sky and sunshine, today the world we journeyed through was veiled. Sight – and even insight – depressed and dimmed.

Bede Griffiths, a Benedictine monk, spent the last forty years of his life in India making synthesis between Eastern and Christian mysticism, living the simple life of a Hindu sannyasin. As a schoolboy he was transported by a mystical experience in a sunlit field. A veil lifted that altered the course of his life. In his spiritual autobiography* he wrote

“This experience may come, as it came to me, through nature or poetry, or through art and music; or it may come through the adventure of flying or mountaineering, or of war; or it may come simply through falling in love, or through some apparent accident, an illness, the death of a friend, a sudden loss of fortune. Anything which breaks through the routine of daily life may be the bearer of this message to the soul. But however it may be, it is as though a veil has been lifted and we see for the first time behind the facade which the world has built around us. Suddenly we know we belong to another world, that there is another dimension to existence … We see our life for a moment in its true perspective in relation to eternity. We are freed from the flux of time and see something of the eternal order that underlies it. We are no longer isolated individuals in conflict with our surroundings; we are parts of a whole, elements in an universal harmony”

Bede Griffiths, 1906-1993
*A new vision of reality

No let up in the grey cloud cover and the teeming rain today until, as so often before, just before sunset. And then a veil lifted. Suddenly orange and yellow hues of sunlit western skies, like the simple robes of a lifelong contemplative, were bright and glorious, everything around and within illuminated, warmed and heartened – “freed from the flux of time” …

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