By Russ Havens
So much of what passes for “spiritual experience” is centered on peak experiences. For some, it’s a conversion experience or receiving a subsequent blessing or charismatic outpouring. For others, the experience involves sudden enlightenment or ecstatic moments, whether as the result of simply being in the presence of a holy person or a breakthrough of some kind that involves seeing beneath the mask that reality wears.
People in every religious tradition experience such peak moments, some of which have very profound and life-altering, permanent results. Even people with no particular religious background, no mystical leanings, and no interest in any organized religion have such experiences.
The landscape of our lives, just like the earth itself, has its mountains, valleys, and plains, all of which add color and texture to living. They give feeling to living. We tend to treasure such transformative experiences, looking back at them fondly, perhaps wishing they would recur because they’re never continuous. That fact, after all, is what makes them peaks.
There is, however, a base underlying our lives, even beneath and supporting the peaks, that we usually refer to as “the ordinary”. The ordinary is what bores us, what we want to escape. But could it be that the ordinary is really the most extraordinary aspect of life, and what -- or who -- we really are?
Perhaps our trouble is that we’re so busy dashing about after the next peak that we fail to look closely at the simplest, most basic elements of life – to pause, to simply pay attention.
- Just standing
- Just sitting
- Just walking
- Just watching
- Just eating
- Just drinking
- Just gardening
- Just playing
- Just waking up