Talk given for Unitarian Universalist Gathering of South County via Zoom 5/17/20

In the book, The Little Prince, the little Prince says: "It is only in the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye”.

Let me tell you about Ruth:

Ruth was in her mid 90’s when I met her. She was an extremely kind woman and seemed to me to be at peace within herself (you can “feel” this from some people). Her eyes sparkled - the face may have been of an old woman but the eyes were that of someone much younger - someone still excited about life.

As I visited with her she shared her life’s story with me. She’d come from privilege, born in Austria of well-to-do Jewish parents. She had to flee when the Nazi’s came to power. She was the only survivor in her family and had spent time in France in a relocation camp.
She described that camp as a bleak and cold place with a great deal of suffering. At the time she was in her late teens and felt scared almost all the time. Because she spoke fluent French she acted as an interpreter and this helped secure her some safety.

One day she was walking through the camp, which had become a mud field because a thaw had set in. The landscape seemed as bleak as the camp itself-devoid of color.

As she walked along, eyes cast down, she suddenly found herself staring at a puddle. Reflected in that puddle was the blue sky and some clouds that the late afternoon sun had begun to tint a beautiful shade of salmon pink.

Captivated by this the reflection, she noticed something else. There was movement happening in the puddle as well. She saw there were tiny creatures swimming in this water.

As she relayed this story to me her face lit up - as if she were seeing that scene all over again.
She told me that this was the day that everything changed for her- she said:“ I knew I wasn’t alone-that life continued and that there was still beauty - I knew I wasn’t just a number or a thing-a Jew-that I was still alive and still “me”. I felt the
spirit of who I was as I looked into that puddle. “

She paused for a minute, the said to me “It’s so hard to put this into words! But I recognized I was actually a
part of those tiny squiqelies swimming in that puddle and they were a part of me, just as I was surely part of the clouds reflected and the sky above, too. I was connected to it all and in this ALL, was life itself - call it God, call it by any name and it would be insufficient. What IT IS, is more than any word or name can describe , and on that day I knew it was real.”
She smiled and told me, “ I started to live again that day. Everyday I made an effort to open my eyes to the beauty that was there if I looked deep enough…and even in that bleak place, it was there and I’d see it!
I’ve never stopped doing this, that’s why I say it changed my life. Looking back now, I know it saved me..”

Ruth had lost practically all the things we tend to count and measure and in that found something else.

When Ruth shared this with me, I connected back to a time in my own life when I had a similar experience. It too was in a dark time, when so much of my life had fallen apart. And like her, it changed me.

I know I would not be here today speaking to you if I’d not had that experience.

It does seem that this sort of experience happens in times of uncertainty, or brokenness. Almost always when the “normal” of life has been interrupted or taken away.

Suddenly we see or hear or feel something and it “connects” to a very deep part of our being - a place that recognizes or knows this experience.

Then, after it passes, we will try to understand “what just happened to me?” and not being able to explain it, we may dismiss it - maybe we chalk it up to our imagination.

But then something very deep within will say, “no-that was real-, actually maybe even “MORE real than real”…

Believing something doesn’t necessarily change you - but experiencing something

Jesus said, “unless you became as a child you will not see the kingdom of heaven”- he also said on numerous occasions that “heaven is here now for those with eyes to see”…might this be what he was referring to? A child see’s with wonder what the busy adult rushes past….

When I was a boy my best friend Bobby got a microscope and I remember the day we took a drop of water and put it on a slide and a whole new world opened to us when we saw the life in that drop!

Ruth’s experience in that camp caused her to look for signs of beauty no matter what the initial (superficial) appearance- and this changed her.

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

I’ve heard Richard Rohr say that Transformation happens through either Great Suffering or Great Love…
Actually, I don’t think you can have one without the other.
We are in a time where both great suffering and great love are being demonstrated.

"It is only in the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye”.

So, what do you think? And how might this apply to our current time and your own life?
So, what IS IT that is essential to/for you?