Martin LeFevre: Of Eclipses And Sacred Places
Of Eclipses and Sacred Places
Meditations - From Martin LeFevre in California
Not knowing there was a total eclipse of the moon this evening, I’m surprised to see a wine-colored moon in the eastern sky, with a mother of pearl rim around its upper right quadrant.
Through the binoculars, the full face of earth’s companion is not the familiar flat surface seen hundreds of times. Rather, with the last white light of the sun reflecting off its border, the moon appears both as it is--a three-dimensional orb--and as it is not--a ruddy, luminescent lamp lit from within.
I sit in the backyard and watch as the terrestrial shadow engulfs our nearest celestial neighbor. In a few more minutes of timeless mystery, the colorless glow is gone. Two nearby stars stand like sentinels over the event, forming a flattened triangle that hold their place next to the moon for the nearly hour-long total eclipse.
Later, the silhouetting process produces almost a mirror image of the point at which one first saw the eclipse, with just a shadow-cap remaining on top of the moon.
The sight inspires awe, disrupting plans and routines before the earth’s shadow begins to slide away. Then the familiarity of the mundane world returns, to some degree. No wonder Columbus was able to fool the ‘Indians’ he thought he had discovered into thinking he was some kind of god by predicting a lunar eclipse.
Having a much deeper awareness and relationship with nature, so-called primitive peoples were onto something about omens, good or ill. On the local news that night, the weatherman, expressing amazement that the clouds had cleared and a predicted storm had held off long enough for the event to be seen, called it “the miracle eclipse.”
I wouldn’t go that far, unless this eclipse augurs an age unlike any other, but a lot of strange things are happening. Besides the question of omens and miracles (what they are and whether they exist), the earth’s shadow over its satellite got me thinking about another idea that’s getting a lot of play lately--that of “sacred places.”
The next day, beside the creek, a woman rides up on her bike, and speaks to me across the water. She sits in the crook of a downed tree, a spot she frequents by the familiar way she negotiates around the branches to take her seat. After exchanging a few words, I resume the silent observation of the sitting.
She doesn’t speak for over a half hour, and after a few minutes, her presence becomes part of the scene. The skies are as clear as the swollen stream between us, while behind us, people go by on foot or bikes along the park paths and roads.
Just as a meditative state ignites, she speaks again, a ‘coincidence’ I find perplexing and amusing. She prattles on for a couple of minutes about some trivial subject having to do with getting something fixed in her residence that day. I can only hear every other word because of the rippling water in front of her, but it doesn’t matter. When I say nothing, she discloses that she is very analytical, and has a chattering “monkey mind.”
There is a curious mixture of both observation and unawareness about her. She’s a smart lady, and takes a certain pride in the acuity of her mind and observation. Without being rude, I say that I come to this place to sit quietly, observe nature, and let the mind fall silent.
She misunderstands, and says something about one part of the mind analyzing another. I respond that if one observes the mind the same way one attends to nature, that is, without analyzing, judging, or evaluating, thought naturally quiets down. She then makes a point of pointing out a slight breeze that brings a subtle freshness off the water.
Acknowledging the freshness while ignoring the ego struggle, I add that it is the quality of observation that is crucial, which has nothing to do with analysis. Then she seems to get it. As I prepare to leave, she says she has noted, along with others, that there is a special feeling to this particular place.
When a human being repeatedly ignites a meditative state in a given place, it consecrates it. Though the earth is beautiful in its own right, this is the true meaning of “sacred places.”
That has nothing to do with ‘man,’ the creature with the ‘monkey mind’ that believes ‘idle hands are the devil’s workshop,’ and thereby is busily destroying the earth.
It takes sentient life observing itself and everything in its environment to open the door. It takes a human being to awaken insight and intelligence.
Only we can dispel the shadow that has fallen over the planet, and transmute human darkness into light, so that the entire earth is as it’s meant to be--a sacred place.
Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: martinlefevre_AT_sbcglobal.net. The author welcomes comments.