Thursday, March 1, 2007

"Deep face a storm"

"Deep enough to dream
in brilliant colors I have never seen..."

In his song "Deep Enough to Dream,"   Chris Rice hones in on  an essential element of the work we all when we approach life from a prayer-based perspective. He sings of a rich depth of vision, a peace that he finds in the sacred space of prayer. It reminds me of the feeling I had as a girl one summer at the lake, where my aunt and uncle had rented a house for the season. 

My brothers, sisters, cousins and I would arrive early in the day to set up "camp".  We'd lay down our towels, staking out territory according to age and gender.  The older girls in one section, surrounded by books, magazines, bottles of baby oil that had been laced with iodine, cans of TAB, journals or diaries to write in,  and ryecrisp crackers.  

The boys (all in late grade school) were as far from us as we could convince them to be.  Their world was full of peanut butter and plastic things that blew up and could be floated on.  The littlest kids...toddlers and babies...were all near the moms, they were loud and full of sand and jelly. 

When I grew tired of all the noisy splashing I  would swim out as far as I was permitted.  At first I held my breath while floating on the surface.  But eventually I felt the noise from the shoreline penetrate my silence.  So I'd let out my breath, releasing the air that had kept me buoyed.  I then allowed my own body weight to take me under.  I descended well below the surface to find a peace so deep and impenetrable that I could actually
feel the quiet. 

I did this over and over again.  Eventually I became so suffused with this deep peace that I could take it back to my towel on the beach.  Then I would actually
be that island of quiet for myself that I was searching for. It allowed me to read Jane Austen’s  “Pride and Prejudice” without even hearing the splashing and screeching of a dozen infant to thirteen year olds. 

I was able to inhabit a world of Cotswold cottages and cobbled lanes, garden teas and diaphanous lawn dresses with my toes dug into the sand and my cousin just inches away sighing over the latest issue of Tiger Beat magazine.   Even today when I pray, Rice able to use my memories, of how it felt to descend into the quiet of the lake, to take me:

"...Deep enough to reach out and touch
The face of the One who made me
And oh, the love I feel…”

Rice goes on to talk about what one sees in this place of deep peace. 

For me this “seeing” is not about taking in images and translating them into information that can be interpreted as reality.  It is about
vision…about beholding…it is about seeing out from what God knows…and what I have the right to know as I reflect (think deeply about and ponder) Him, His nature, His All-in-allness as my life, in the universe... and as the only source of my reality.  (One of Webster’s definitions of reality that I cling to is “that which is actually occurring.”)

This beholding is often quite contrary to the images that are being presented as information to my “receptors”...eyes, ears…

But I have discovered that  a God-based, or spiritual sense of things is more about transmitting than reception.  I have the right to transmit or project this God-based
vision…about anything or anyone…rather than feel imposed upon by images that are presented to me as reality...whether it relate to non-profit projects and initiatives I may have been invited to contribute ideas for, or the minutiae of everyday living.

I believe that it is this sense of vision that Mary Baker Eddy talks about when she relates:

“Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man,
who appeared to him where sinning mortal man
appears to mortals. 
In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness,
and this correct view of man healed the sick.
Thus Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is intact,
universal, and that man is pure and holy.”

Whether we are seeing out from this God-based sense of reality about man, family, government, the environment, or the weather…it is this vision-based sense of reality that we can begin to experience not only in the most simple details of our day, but on a global level.

I have had many opportunities to apply this kind of vision-based “beholding” over the last two decades, but I am reminded of one particularly clear example when I hear references in songs, poems or essays, to seeing or beholding “the face of God” as Rice does in his "Deep Enough to Dream".

In her biography of spiritual thought-leader and healer, Mary Baker Eddy, titled,
Christian Healer, my good friend, Yvonne von Fettweiss, relates an experience shared in the memoirs of Adelaide Still,  one of the workers in Eddy’s household.  The account was profoundly helpful to me one summer afternoon some years ago.

I was the Christian Science practitioner on duty at a camp for teenagers who wanted to approach the adventure experience from a spiritual perspective.  One element of their two-week curriculum was a three-day outcamp trip. Some of the patrols were rafting the Arkansas River all day and sleeping under the stars on shore at night.  Other patrols were peaking 14,000-foot mountains or riding horses high into the canyons.  Each patrol would set up camp in the early evening, cook dinner, and then sleep in tents or under tarps. 

While these groups were out of camp I was often the only person on site.  My job was to spiritually support the harmony and safety of their trips and stay available should prayer-based care be needed for any of the counselors or campers during the trips. 

It was late afternoon on the day of trip departures and everyone was finally on their way.  The last patrol of horses and riders had clip-clopped their way past my cabin waving their goodbyes as they ascended a nearby trail.  I had eased myself into the Adirondack rocker on my front porch and let the quiet of an empty camp seep into my heart.  I looked to the east where I could see beyond Valerie Lake towards the Sleeping Indian range and miles of Colorado sky stretched before me like a canvas waiting for the paint of evening colors….pink, lavender and finally a deep velvety midnight blue…to wash across it. 

I was entranced with watching clouds drift into my view when suddenly I realized that those clouds were no longer puffy and white, or even heavy and gray.  They were black…black, angry thunderheads filled with rain and pierced every few moments from the far south with lightning. 

I was horrified that I had just let myself sit there and be mesmerized by the dramatic beauty of it all.  I didn’t have the luxury of watching a pretty mountain storm from the dry safety of my cabin perch.  I had campers out on the river, in the canyons and hiking through scree fields above treeline.  I was there for a purpose and it wasn’t to enjoy the scene being played out in front of me in Technicolor. 

For a split second I let my sense of guilt give me a good shaking.  Then I walked into my cabin and reached for something to give focus to my prayer.  The first thing I saw was Yvonne’s book.  My daughter had been assigned it as a summer Sunday School reading project and I had decided I would read it again with her, so had taken my copy to camp with me.  I knew that it was indexed, in part, according to healings witnessed.  I had remembered that there were among other things a reference or two that addressed storms.  I quickly came upon one of the references “Storm Dispelled” and went back onto the porch to read:

Adelaide Still reminisces:

“On several occasions I saw Mrs. Eddy dispel a storm; the first time was on August 3, 1907, in the late afternoon.  The sky was overcast and it was very dark.  Mrs. Eddy sat in her chair in the tower corner of her study, watching the clouds with a smile and a rapt expression on her face.  She seemed to be seeing something beyond her present surroundings, and I do not think that she was conscious of my presence.  In a few moments the clouds broke and flecked, and the storm was dissolved into its native nothingness.  About have an hour later I took her supper tray to her, and she said to me, “Ada, did you see the sky?”  I replied, “Yes, Mrs. Eddy.”  The she said, “It (meaning the cloud) never was;  God’s face was never clouded.”  This agrees with what another student has recorded as having been said by Mrs. Eddy, namely, “When I wanted to dispel a storm.  I did not say, ‘there is no thunder, and no lightning.’ But I said, ‘God’s face is there, and I do see it.’”

I decided that since spiritual laws are not personally or historically defined as true, but universally applicable…"if it was good enough for her…it was good enough for me".

I used my memories of exhaling and letting myself go deep beneath the surface at the lake…or as Eddy says in her how-to book on spiritual healing,
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:

“We must look deep into realism
instead of accepting only
the outward sense of things.”

I looked into the sky focusing on a tiny patch of blue that seemed to be in the process of being swallowed up by hostile black storm clouds.  I allowed myself to see this as the “face of God” expressed as clarity, light, and…vision.

I maintained that focus, and these focused prayers seemed to serve as a paintbrush washing beautifully colored thoughts about God as Mind...the only Mind... across the canvas of sky before me.  God was expressing Himself as clarity, light and the guidance that counselors were finding as they sought direction in leading campers on new trails...or as a whispered thought that calmed the horses who, through their silent gentleness, were themselves helping  novice campers find a sense of secure peace on their strong backs.  Mind was washing away any sense of disturbance with broad spiritual brushstrokes of peace and calm.  I had almost forgotten the storm when I realized that the sun was shining brightly onto the meadow in the foreground of my periphery. 

I was almost stunned.  I sat there with tears of realization running down my face.  I
had seen the “face of God” and I felt as if “he was pleased with me”.

I will never forget the feeling of sitting on that porch for the rest of the evening...long after the last of the storm clouds had flecked and dissolved... and watching the sky go from blue to pink to salmon to lavender to a blanket of deep midnight blue velvet covered with diamonds.  Through each of those brilliant colors I was still seeing the face of God.

I love the sense of vision Chris Rice further brings to his lyrics:

"...'cause peace is pouring over my soul
See the lambs and the lions playin'
I join in and I drink the music
Holiness is the air I'm breathin'
My faithful heroes break the bread
And answer all of my questions
Not to mention what the streets are made of
My heart's held hostage by this love

And these brilliant colors I have never seen
I join a billion people for a wedding feast
And I reach out and touch the face of the One who made me
And oh, the love I feel, and oh the peace
Do I ever have to wake up?..."

I ask myself “Do I really ever have to wake up to a reality that isn’t God-based?”

No…I think I’ll stay out here in the middle of the lake looking up through the water to see the sun, God’s face, reaching through to touch me with light.

The water’s perfect…come on in…

Here is a video clip of Chris' song "Deep Enough to Dream"   it wasn't available when I first posted this piece...but now it is.  I hope you enjoy it.

with great love,

Kate Robertson, CS


  1. Dear Kate,

    I love this blog! Thinking about "transmitting" reminded me of a favorite quote from "Miscellany" by Mary Baker Eddy: "I am able to impart truth, health, and happiness, and this is my rock of salvation and my reason for existing." I've also enjoyed expanding on "God's face is there, and I do see it." God's voice is there, and I do hear it. God's love is there, and I do feel it.

    Thanks for the wonderful beach, camp and spiritual images! I wonder what ever happened to my Tiger Beat poster of Donny Osmond, David Cassidy and Bobby Sherman?

    With love,

  2. Hi again. I keep going back to your blog and finding more treasures. Sometimes if I don't know a song, I won't really zero in on the lyrics your share. Never again. "And I reach out and touch the face of the One who made me And oh, the love I feel, and oh the peace." These lines were exactly what I needed this morning. I love the image of a child reaching out to touch a parent's face to get the parent's attention and the parent turning to look with such love and reassurance. You helped me see and feel God's smile. Thank you!

  3. Awww...Maria...I love that lyric too...and I love your comments...they are so insightful, inspiring and dear...I especially loved your reference to Eddy's answer to the question "What am I?" with "I am able to impart..." this is one of my favorite statements...and MY "reason for existing"! Isn't this really THE question we are ALL asking..."What am I?" What am I doing...what am I supposed to do...what am I meant to do...what am I going to leave as a legacy..

    I also loved your focusing in on Rice's lyric...about reaching out and touching the face of too has been a part of that song that always makes me weep. I remember when the twins were day Clara just reached out and touched my face and looked deeply in my eyes...the love I felt from her and for her was so tender and strong, deep and complete..I am always reminded of that moment when I hear that song and it makes me think of how much I love God and how much He loves me...

    and I love you...

  4. Anonymous9:01 PM

    Hi Kate,

    I keep thinking I will read your blog every day, since i really enjoy your thought and writing shades. then life happens! Loved this set of lyrics, photos and mental images. I can picture you watching that storm respond to your faithful, confident prayer. Enjoyed the exchange between you and Maria as well. Nancy

  5. Nancy...

    so good to hear your "voice"....I would know it anywhere...yes, sitting on the porch of Crowsnest and watching the storms just dissolve...whether they seem to be in the sky, the heart of a camper, or the face of "danger" one of my favorite vantage points....come join me this summer...there are two rockers on that porch!