June 26, 2007

Losing Myself

Have you ever lost yourself?

I remember a time when I was taking a small boat across a mountain lake just after sunset. Everything was perfect. The temperature was right--cool, but not too cold. Water was spraying onto my face--enough to leave me refreshed, but not soaked.

To the west, near the horizon, the sky glowed orange and pink. A little higher up, it was purple. Above me, it was deep indigo, and the summer triangle was just making its appearance.

It's hard to explain the feeling I had. I felt as if I could touch the stars. It seemed that the sunset was mine, not in an exclusively possessive sense, but in the sense that I and the sunset (and the water and the wind and the night itself) were one.

I felt as if I had lost myself.

I remember another time I felt that feeling. It was in worship. It's actually happened more than once to me in worship, usually when I allow myself to get carried away in the singing and the spirit. I'm made aware, at such times, that I'm a part of something much bigger than myself, bigger even than all of those who had gathered together. I lose myself; the boundaries that separate me from all that is around me disappear, and I feel that I and the universe are one.

They say that infants have no awareness of themselves as distinct individuals. It takes some time for a baby to learn that he or she is a separate being from his or her mother, a separate being from the surrounding environment. When a baby begins the journey of self-discovery, it is an exciting time for both parent and child.

I don't know much about what heaven is like. I wonder, though, if heaven isn't a place where we lose ourselves, a place where we become completely at one with the universe. It would be like being an infant again, except that we'd still have all our wisdom and intelligence. Better yet, we'd share in the collective wisdom and intelilgence of all who ever lived. Individual freedom would be replaced by a collective cosciousness as we blend into one.

That may sound scary to some. It may sound as if we are being assimilated into a borg-like state of being. (Resistance is futile!) But what if it's not like that? Perhaps the only reason it's scary is that we live in the most individualized society the world has ever seen, a society that values individual rights and freedom above all else. Maybe it is, in fact, something truly wonderful, to be so united with the universe, its Creator, and all of life. Perhaps it is our own identities that keep us from being free, and we're not truly free until we make the connection.

The dog and I went running again this morning, and have just returned. We go early now, at sunrise, because that's the only time it's cool enough. As the dew-covered weeds along the dirt road brushed past my legs, as the rising sun twinkled through distant trees, as a swarm of dragonflies hovered nearby, and as breath/wind/spirit moved faster and faster through my nose, mouth, and lungs, I felt that connection.

And now, before the rest of the family wakes up, it's time to go baptize myself in the waters of the bathroom shower.

The photo is one I took during my church's Vacation Bible School.

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