The follow was originally posted in December 2012 on a now discontinued website.
The Bright Field
I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
the treasure in it. I realize now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying
on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside, like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.
R.S. Thomas, Collected Poems
Such illuminated moments may come to anybody, irrespective of religious/spiritual affiliations or lack of them. How could it be otherwise? R.S. Thomas was a Christian minister in Wales, and this poem refers to stories from the Bible. Similar ones illustrating the same points can be found in Buddhist writings, and no doubt in other religious and spiritual writings too. But what is the pearl of great price?
The answer perhaps can be found in that small field, those mini moments of clarity when the clouds clear, the sun shines and one simply knows, at a profound level, that life has a depth greater than our ordinary everyday perceptions. Some would call those moments proof of faith. I was talking to somebody the other day who spoke of a specific moment in his life. On waking one morning, he knew for certain what he needed to do and did it. The direction in his life, though not always easy, opened up. He had to my way of thinking enacted faith by following up on that illuminated moment. He could have chosen not to.
We forget those lit bushes, and perhaps that is as it must be in order to press ourselves into the winds our lives have us walk into. Along the way, in moments of stress and doubt, the small field the lit bush presents as a beacon of hope. Thus, faith is strengthened and resolve renewed.
And what is the price of the precious pearl? (That’s to return to the eternal moment, which is ever present?) Everything! A maddening idea to be sure. One reads about taking a leap of faith, and I puzzled about that a lot in my early years as a monk. Caught as I was in the mire of being centre stage on the trail to a better life, in the future. However, I’ve learned that the price to pay is offered constantly and seamlessly, not in one lump sum. I guess that’s the holding out of faith but not faith in an object, more just faith. There is spiritual merit in that, but that too is forgotten about along the way.
Just in case I have wrapped up my point too tightly,
The pearl is faith
is living it.
This post is offered to all those who are walking into the winds of life, who may doubt and struggle, but go on anyway.
14th January, 2023. Yes, all those who read this…go on anyway. I am. Mugo