Rev. David McArthur
The Astonishing Light of Our Being
I love Easter when I get to go back and learn it all again. In the 1950’s in war-embroiled Viet Nam, there was a 14 year old girl feeling powerless and in pain. She had lost family and others in the poor farming community. She longed for peace and wanted it for everyone she knew. She soon noticed those people who had so little themselves leaving handfuls of their staple food, rice, out for the birds. She wondered if she could be one of their birds. Would these remarkably generous people spare a handful of rice once a week that she could take to the orphans at the temple? Her friends saw what she was doing and they joined her in collecting rice for the children. Throughout those years in that place of war and suffering there was always, in that poor community, a place of peace and generosity. There was always food for the children because a 14 year old girl listened to her heart and stepped out of her powerlessness and pain to that which was in her heart, and created a world that was greater.
That is what Easter is about—that astonishing light within, which flashes and is ours. And we create something greater. Why did Jesus do it? Why did he feed thousands from a single basket, change water to wine, heal the sick, cure the deaf and blind? In the forgiveness on the cross he showed us the transforming power of love. And he knew rising from the dead—he had raised 3 already. All this to show us the power we have within. But we fall into not remembering that we are spiritual beings living in a spiritual world governed by spiritual laws. We look outside ourselves for healing and for our abundance. But it is from within, not without, that the power flows. There is no one else.
Compassion is the powerful expression of this law. In the 50’s there was a famine in China and some compassionate people wanted to ask our government to help. They sent little bags of rice to the White House with tags saying “Feed our enemies.” I have no idea if the government sent any rice, but it was a powerful act of compassion. At the same time there was a dispute with China over some islands, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff were urging president Eisenhower to use atomic weapons. Ike turned to his advisor and asked how many of those bags of rice they had gotten and was told, “Tens of thousands.” Ike then told the Joint Chiefs, “When so many Americans want to feed the people of China, I can’t put nuclear weapons on the table.” We didn’t feed them, but the compassion expressed changed the world.
It was the same compassion expressed when, outside the tomb that Easter morning, Jesus said to Mary Magdalene, “Mary, do you not know me?” and she gasped, “Rabboni (teacher)!” That astonishing light within awakened Mary.
I love the way the 14th century poet Hafez put it: “One day the sun admitted, ‘I’m just a shadow, I wish I could show you The Infinite Incandescence that has cast my brilliant image. I wish I could show you, When you are lonely or in darkness The Astonishing Light Of your own Being.” That’s what this love and compassion is—the astonishing light of your own being. Are you open to that? I am open to the astonishing light of my own being. When you feel powerless, I am open to the astonishing light of my own being. When the world seems insane, I am open to the astonishing light of my own being. When something tries to convince you there is not enough, I am open to the astonishing light of my own being. I thank you for your astonishing light which blesses us all!