Awakening to the spiritual life after a long, raucous, and wandering path, a life full of many mistakes and painful episodes, a North African named Augustine lamented his spiritual dullness. Augustine, later acknowledged as a doctor and saint in the truest sense of the word (doctor as healer; saint as holy one), points us toward the only place any of us can really meet God:
"Late have I loved You, Beauty, at once so ancient and so new! Late have I come to love You! You were within me, and I was in the world outside myself. You were with me, but I was not with You."
As the world turns toward the mystery that is Christmas . . . God with us . . . you are awakening. You are awakening to the God who is as near to you as the beating of your heart.
Here's a simple practice to move you from living all in-your-head, or "in the world outside," and instead into relationship with that "Beauty, at once so ancient and so new":
Quiet yourself, even for a moment before your computer. Gently follow your breath (click here for suggestions on breathing) and the Breath/Holy Spirit will guide you from "the world outside" yourself and into the inner realm. Gently repeat, "Come, Oh come, Emmanuel," and let the words ride on your breath. The breath is the narrow gate into the heart, and the heart is the cradle of Christ, God-With-Us.
You touch eternity. You brush up against heaven. Now you know heaven's not up or out or somewhere other than where you are, nor is it waiting for you when you die.
It is in.
It is now.
It is here.