Note that pictures of our travels are posted on Facebook and although some will be included in these postings, many will not. If you want the full experience, please request me as your friend and that will give you access.
David McCullough entitled his book on the Panama Canal, “The Path between the Seas”. It’s a long book that tells the story of the early conception of the Canal, how the French got involved, the enormous loss of life because they failed to be present to the circumstances in Panama. It then goes on to tell the story of how the US got involved, along with the political machinations involved and the determination of Teddy Roosevelt to have it done. I don’t believe that Congress approved the effort but I could be wrong about that. At any rate, the current situation with a President who is determined to implement his project seems similar. The book is so long that I didn’t completely finish it. But I learned a great deal from reading it and then transiting the Canal.
It’s the title and the experience that intrigues me. “The Path between the Seas”. Connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific through a land mass opened lots of opportunity for many folks. Yes, it was extremely difficult and yet those who survived thrived. The Canal increased trade and transportation options. It brought people from different cultures together who might not have ever engaged in a common project. It transformed people and cultures as they were exposed to one another. It opened new horizons, new understandings, new human potential. It connected two seas.
In some ways, we might consider our human lives (and perhaps other creatures’ as well) as a path between two seas: the sea of material, planetary, human and creaturely life and the sea of spiritually luminous, expansive, creative, loving life. In our short human life, we can come to know both sides or we can spend our time primarily on the planetary material side without making the transit. Of course, there are many people today who don’t believe there is another sea to discover or try to reach. Perhaps that’s because we’ve given it a name and personification. Many people call that other sea, God. And, that name and personification no longer gives life any meaning for many people, especially Westerners. That means for those folks there may be no path or way to follow to discover the new life that awaits them now, and even, perhaps beyond death.
In truth, we have separated two seas that really are already joined. For the planetary, materially cosmic sea lives within the luminous, dare I say, Divine sea. But we think they are not connected. And we have the opportunity to discover and live on a path that will bring us to the realization that they are very much connected.
Today, in Ecuador, we visited a museum that displayed the history of the early peoples here, dating before 500 BCE, some cultures as old as 4000 years. They showed a video that emphasized how those, what we might call primitive, societies lived a life that knew strong connection between earthly and spiritual life and, for that reason, they lived in harmony with their environment. It is our lack of this understanding in the Western culture that has caused us to rape and pillage our environment, to our great detriment.
So how do we move forward? How do we affirm our society that has brought so much progress to human life in the areas of disease and prosperity as well as connect that life to the source of our lives and the wonderful fruits of that connection? What is our “path between the seas”?
That answer will be different for various individuals and communities. Although many religious institutions have failed us in the past, they remain a potential resource and place to begin. There are other “spiritual but not religious” groups that could accomplish the same thing but may not have the deep connection with traditions that have stood the test of time. They all have the potential to get us started on a coherent path that supports us as we seek to know the source of our life and love. Individuals and communities will need to do a lot of digging to let go of the barriers in our lives that are getting in the way. Discovering the path and walking it and living it, and then digging through the difficult garbage in our way will take determination and work. I have found Centering Prayer (a form of Christian Meditation) to be invaluable in this work, but there are other meditation and body practices that support it as well. Slowly, the connection is made and life giving water begins to flow and we discover that our life is one with the universe.
What is your “path between the seas”? Are you walking it? And what/who are the resources that support you in doing the hard work of Love?