The moon is full even when we only see a crescent. Seeing is a matter of perspective, of alignment with the light. Again, the moon is always full!
I’m still at the hermitage and this wonderfully insightful and illuminating image may be the most indelible gift, among many, I take home later today. It comes from something I was reading by Cynthia Bourgeault, a modern day mystic, Episcopal priest, writer and internationally recognized retreat leader.
Bourgeault was speaking of the human conscience. Surely few concepts from childhood religion raise more hackles or bring up more resistance than conscience. It’s given a bum wrap! It’s not the stern voice accompanied with a wagging finger admonishing us for our faults. It’s lightyears beyond memorizing a rule book and conforming our behavior to its prescriptions.
Rather, Bourgeault would say, the mature well-formed conscience is “the heart’s own ability to see the divine hologram in any situation, no matter how obscured, and to move spontaneously and without regard for it’s personal well-being in alignment with that divine wholeness.”
It brings a sense of “obligation” that arises out of both a willingness and mysterious ability to do whatever is consonant with the good. Our felt obligation becomes a desire, an impulse, to align our being and doing with what is right, true and beautiful.
It’s as if we recognize the full radiance of the moon even when only a sliver is visible. The mature, well-formed conscience not only enables us to see but to, in fact, become visionary.
Bourgeault suggests this is what enabled Francis of Assisi to embrace the leper. We cherish this image because at some deeply human level we recognize — Bourgeault calls it “the eye of our heart” — that only that gesture would restore the image of God in the brokenness of that situation. She further suggests this moral alignment, this ability to see fully, enabled Jesus to accept death on a cross rather than meeting violence with violence.
Eons away from the wagging finger of stern elders, lightyears from conforming behavior to a list of commands, we are enticed to live freely and spontaneously in the full and free embrace of the Light.
It’s a matter of alignment and perspective — of seeing that even a slice is sufficient.
My source is “Seeing with the Eye of the Heart” by Cynthia Bourgeault in Evidence, Oneing: An Alternative Orthodoxy, vol. 2, no. 2 (2014), pp. 41-48; a publication of the Center for Action and Contemplation. The article is an excerpt from Chapter VII of Bourgeault’s book, The Wisdom Way of Knowing, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003.