Welcome to the Yoga Church Sunday Sermons

Early Winter 2020 | Opening to Mystery


I’ve got a great sermon for you this morning. It’s the last one in our early winter series (I’ve loved this group of sermons). As you know we’ve been exploring Divine Mystery. We started with what it means to be a seeker, then we explored yearning, last week we dove into the practice of finding refuge, and this week we’re talking about connection.

Divine Mystery is, well, mysterious. But I don’t think it’s beyond our grasp. In fact, I think it’s everywhere.

One of the ways I connect with Divine Mystery is through nature and this short sermon ends with 5 poetic prayers I wrote in honor of the 5 great elements (they’re the beginning of a little prayer book I’m working on…) And I’m excited for you to hear them. After you’ve watched the sermon, scroll down to the bottom of the page for the reflection questions. You’ll see that I’ve laid out the formula I used to write the prayers so you can do some creative writing of your own. Please share what you come up with in the comments! I look forward to hearing your prayers.

Early Winter Part 4: Connecting with Divine Mystery

Prefer to listen to the sermon? Here you go!

And for the readers…

One of the goals of my spiritual practice is connecting with Divine Mystery. These three words are beautiful and inspiring, but they’re not necessarily clear.

Connecting is the only pragmatic word. We understand what it means to connect with something or someone. Connection implies drawing close, coming together, joining with, and deepening our understanding. Connection is about relationship and interdependence.

But the words divine and mystery are anything but pragmatic. They’re stand-ins. We use them to help us understand parts of our reality that aren’t really understandable. The word divine is defined as being of, from, or like God or a god. In other words, to understand the definition of divine, you have to understand the word god. And as we’ve already covered in these sermons, that’s complicated!

Mystery is defined as a secret, hidden, or inexplicable matter. In other words, we can’t know, see, find, or explain what mystery is… As I’ve said before, searching after Mystery can be like trying to grasp smoke.

If you’re looking for certainty and hard answers, these definitions are enough to drive you away from the practice of spiritual seeking…

But if you’re willing to take a risk and push past dictionary definitions, you can experiment with these words. You can examine them, not through the mind of thought, but through the mind of the heart. You can look at them, not through the eyes of external vision, but through the eyes of the spirit. In your seeking, you can find an experiential understanding—based not on testimony or inference—but direct perception. Based on the wisdom of your own inner voice.

So here’s my invitation: Allow your heart to be open.

Divine Mystery may be defined as some unknowable otherworldly reality, but in my experience, this just isn’t true. I believe that God—the word I most often use for Divine Mystery—exists beyond our definitions. But not beyond our experiences. The mystery of God exists within the world in which we live. Why else would our hearts be filled with so much longing for Divine union?

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells us that the Kingdom of God is within us. And the Isha Upanishad opens with the stunning line: “In the heart of all things, of whatever there is in the universe, dwells the Lord.” Another translation reads: “All this is for habitation by the Lord.”

In other words, Divine Mystery is everywhere, in everything and everyone. So allow your heart to be open. Spend time everyday in silence and listen inward. Through meditation allow yourself to quiet down under the noise of the world and seek the voice within. Listen for that of God within you.

And then go out into the world and pay attention. The Yoga Sutra-s tell us that the world is made up of energy, elements, and senses. And that it provides us with experience and liberation. So pay attention to the faces you see… Pay attention to the beauty… To the suffering… To the joy…

Search for Divine Mystery in the known of your life.

Allow your heart to be open. Let go of your old perceptions. What can you smell, taste, see, touch, and hear of Divine Mystery?

Divine Earth,
We are born of your sustaining soil,
the smell of minerals rich in our bones.
Allow us to rest on the ground of your being
and accept the support of stillness.
Because without you, there is no life.

Divine Water,
We are immersed in your currents
the taste of salt rich on our tongues.
Allow us to receive your cleansing
and flow toward our source.
Because without you, there is no life.

Divine Fire,
We are awed by your power,
the sight of all consuming light thick in our vision.
Allow us to burn away all that is stagnant
and activate our passionate will.
Because without you, there is no life.

Divine Air,
We are renewed under your sky,
the touch of wind knocking open our relational hearts.
Allow us to breathe in your formless gift
and take flight.
Because without you, there is no life.

Divine Space,
We are empty before you,
the sound of the eternal calling to us.
Allow us to accept the grace of love
and feel your all encompassing spirit.
Because without you, there is no life.


REFLECTION QUESTIONS

  • What does the word Divine mean to you? How about the word Mystery? How would you define them?
  • Getting beyond intellectual definitions, what do you know or sense or feel about Divine Mystery?
  • What do you learn about Divine Mystery when you rest in silence and listen inward? What do you learn when you look out into the world?
  • Where do you notice or feel the presence of Divine Mystery in the known of your life?
  • Look through your answers to the questions above and choose one concrete thing that represents Divine Mystery to you… and write a prayer to it (as I did above to the 5 great elements). I wrote my prayers based on a formula I learned from the lovely book: “Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community” by Pádraig Ó Tuama. It goes like this:
    • A name for God
    • A story about God
    • A desire
    • A reason for the desire
  • Please share your prayers in the comments below!!

COMMUNITY COMMENTS

We all benefit from the wisdom of spiritual community. And community means more than one voice, so please add yours to the conversation. What did this week’s sermon and reflection questions spark in you?