Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Visitor

A few years ago we had a visitor in our neighbourhood.

My friend and I had heard about him, had heard that he was coming.  We were told where he would be, when he would arrive and even what he looked like.  In fact, we even knew that he was here and that, if we but looked, we would see him.  We knew that we would recognize him when we saw him.  We knew he was different from anything we had previously seen and that his coming was a very rare event, indeed.

It was all we had talked about for a little while, but now that he was here we realized that we hadn't even bothered to go out and look at him.

His name was "Hale-Bopp" and he was a comet, the most dramatic comet to visit our solar system in well over a century.

One evenging, shortly after his arrival, my friend and I were walking outside, talking, and decided to look for him.  We turned the corner and, partway up the sky, streaking across the firmament with a tail as long as my finger when held at arms length, there he was: our short-term visitor.  We both stood there, transfixed, unable to move or even speak.  We had never seen anything remotely like this, nor expected anything quite so marvelous.  All that we had heard paled in comparison to the reality.

We were on a brightly lit street, lights shining like the noonday sun, and still he stood out like a beacon.  People were walking past us, oblivious of this miracle that hung high in the sky before us.  We stopped someone and said, "Look!  This is incredible."  And he glanced at it and shrugged, continuing on his way.

My friend and I went out most every night after that, and even during the days when it was still visible during the daylight hours, just to stare.  Hale-Bopp stayed in our galactic neighbourhood for a few weeks and all we are left with now is a few photos and a number of stories, such as this one.

A few weeks after that, I was walking on a bridge, thinking, staring at the water rushing below my feet.  We have been told that all physical existence was created for our spiritual edification, and that everything can be seen as a metaphor for a spiritual truth.  This means, to me, that we can look at anything around us and glean a spiritual truth from it.

One friend had asked me how a mouse, a computer mouse, was a metaphor for a spiritual truth.  My response, after talking about it with some friends, was that we are all like icons on a computer screen (and give me a break, it's too cheesy to talk about "the computer screen of life"), and the Messenger of God was like the cursor.  He goes around clicking on things, telling the world what to do, in control of it all.  We look at Him and say, "Wow!  You're a cursor.  You're special."  He replies, "No.  That's not my reality.  My reality is that I'm a mouse."  As icons on the screen, this is beyond our comprehension.  But now, from our vantage point here in this world, we recognize the mouse.  And beyond that, we know that the mouse does not move on its own, but rather is guided by the Hand of God.

But what about this comet?  What spiritual truth could we glean from it?

And again, I thought of a Messenger of God.

The comet, in its love for the sun, comes rushing from light-years away, streaking forth to circumambulate it.  Not for a moment does it deviate in its course.

We here on Earth are condemned, if you will, to spend fully half our life in darkness, turned away from the sun, just by virtue of the nature of our creation here upon the face of this planet.  No matter our love for the light, we must, by the very laws of nature which bind us, turn away from it every evening.  It is no fault of ours, just a fact of our existence.  In fact, we must turn away from the light for our health, as recent sleep studies have shown.

But this comet is different.  It so loves the sun that never for a single moment does it turns its tail towards the it.  It is always, constantly, unwaveringly facing the sun.  never deviating.  Never turning away.  Never wavering.

It is, by its very nature, different from us.

As the Bab says, "The substance wherewith God hath created Me is not the clay out of which others have been formed".

This visitor was just like the Messenger of God, streaking across the firmament of the world of the spirit, changing the way we view the world around us, undeviating in His guidance, always turned towards God, different by His very nature.

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