A Lenten Journey, part 2: Finding Transcendence

I often escaped to the mountains surrounding Salt Lake City, Utah, to enjoy some peaceful and God-filled moments. One spring day, the little yellow and purple flowers that would eventually form a carpet across the ground were just beginning to bloom. The sky had a crisp, clean snap to it, willowy wisps of clouds gently relaxing against a clear blue canvas that extended beyond the horizon.

The entire serene scene, rather than lulling me into a state of ecstatic trance, slapped me across the face like my mother catching me with my hand in the cookie jar (that’s just an analogy, my mom never struck me, even when she caught me with my hand in the cookie jar). At that moment, I realized that no matter how big the city or how busy our lives, there is always a wilderness to which we can escape. Anyone can drop out of society entirely (and I admit the thought remains quite tempting). I think it’s much tougher to stay in the world and find ways to transcend it.

What is transcendence? Most definitions are supernatural and involve learning how to experience a world beyond the sensory. Transcendence is often defined as extrasensory. While I don’t disagree with those definitions, I think they make the idea of transcendence too ethereal.

As we continue our Lenten journey attempting to find wilderness moments within our world, not apart from it, so too should transcendence be our goal here and now, within our physical reality, not apart from it.

To me, the idea of a transcended being—like Jesus or Buddha, is an example for the rest of us. Jesus and Buddha were humans who managed to see beyond the materialism that keeps our world stuck in an endless cycle of war and poverty. They did this by connecting to the Infinite Oneness of all being, which Buddha described as Nirvana and Jesus called Father—the most intimate term he could imagine for a God that is part and parcel of our humanity. Our current understanding of being human keeps too many people impoverished. It creates (and even rewards) greed and selfishness. It fails to see the Divine in all beings.

When we are transcended—when we even take the first small steps on that journey, things change. If we use Jesus sand Buddha and anyone else who inspires us, as examples, we willingly enter a wilderness time and allow answers and new ways of being human to fill our souls.

Transcendence comes one small step at a time. Perhaps most importantly, transcendence allows us to experience and co-create a world of peace, love, compassion and equality.

Meditation: I transcend the false ideas of limitation, lack, and separation from God and humankind.

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