TABLE OF CONTENTS
PART I: CONTEXT
A DARING ADVENTURE OF LOVE
HEAVEN ON EARTH
PART II: KEYS
CHOOSING HEAVEN ON EARTH
DEEPENING LOVE, HOPE, AND FAITH
SEEING BINOCULAR VISION
READING LIFE AS SACRED TEXT
PART III: AFTER THOUGHTS
SHIFTING TO A HIGHER WATTAGE
CO-CREATING HEAVEN ON EARTH
APPENDIX I: MONK IN THE WORLD GUEST POST
APPENDIX II: QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER EXPLORING KEYS
Heaven on earth is a reality that defies description and even belief at times. Yet all who have fallen in love, felt deep wonder, or witnessed what could only be classified as a miracle can attest to its presence. Unfortunately, that presence is all too often only fleeting, an experience that leaves us awaiting the next extraordinary event. What if it didn’t have to be so? What if it was possible to sustain the experience of heaven on earth?
This book suggests four keys to doing so, each forged by and for a love that first re-awakened me to heaven on earth and then challenged me to remain awake to its presence.
A DARING ADVENTURE OF LOVE
Life … should be a daring adventure of love—a continuous journey of putting aside our securities to enter more profoundly into the uncharted depths of God.
All of us, I believe, live daring adventures of love. Whether we recognize them as such or not, whether they are defined by love’s apparent absence or its undeniable presence, life’s uncharted depths both challenge and extend an invitation to us all to enter into an adventure of love. Whatever we name them, depths of life or depths of God, their reality remains unchanged.
My adventure started long before I was aware of what was happening. Perhaps its roots were grounded in my reading of the gospels as love stories. Accounts of practical, hard-working and apparently sensible men and women dropping everything to follow someone they’ve just met have always been, for me, reminiscent of love at first sight scenarios. How else could they be explained? I have always thought that these men and women were motivated by what I, and so many others, yearn for so deeply: “a sense of gifted love so strong and so deep it literally brings heaven to earth, making sacredness and miracles as palpable as trees and cats.”
Spiritual mystics across the centuries have written of such love. One such was St. John of the Cross, a 16th century Spanish Christian mystic. He laid out its path in unforgettable poetry whose words stirred my heart when I first read them long before my own adventure started.
One Dark Night
One dark night
With love-inflamed yearning,
O wondrous adventure!
I set out unseen
My house now still at last.
Surely, in the dark,
Disguised, I left by the secret ladder
O joyous adventure!
In the dark and watchful
My house now still at last.
On my flowering breast
That wholly I kept for my Beloved alone
There my Beloved remained sleeping
And I loved,
while cedars fanned the air.
Wind through the castle battlements
As I ran my fingers through his hair,
With his gentle hand
On my neck he pierced my soul
And all my faculties suspended.
I stayed, self forgotten,
Reclining my face on my Beloved,
All ceased and I left myself
Leaving all care and concern
There, strewn among the lilies.
As I re-read the poem at the beginning of my adventure, its echo in the apostles’ response to Jesus was unmistakable. Only such love, I felt, could provide the courage to leave all care and concern behind and live as they and all the saints I’d read about had lived—as I, in all the innocence and fervor of childhood, yearned to live yet never dreamed I could or would.
My Own Daring Adventure of Love—Then
My daring adventure of love first appeared on the horizon over two decades ago when I reconnected with a long lost friend and fell in love with him once again. It was, as all true love is, heaven on earth. As the first glow of our renewed friendship began to fade, however, the challenge of sustaining that heaven on earth emerged front and center. While my friend was physically present here on earth, my tendency was always to turn toward him in response to that challenge. Even as I recognized its spiritual aspects, I remained focused on the path of our human relationship.
Toward the end of what I now realize was only the first half of my adventure, I became more and more aware that sustaining heaven on earth had never been truly defined solely along a chronological timeline walked with a human beloved. Its essence always had been, and continues to be, most deeply defined along a spiritual timeline walked with a Divine Beloved as well as a human beloved now in spirit. What had been background became foreground with my friend’s passing.
My Own Daring Adventure of Love—Now
The challenge to sustaining heaven on earth deepened in the absence of my friend’s physical presence and reassurances. As I strived to sustain the heaven on earth I’d found with him during his life on earth I realized that keys essential to sustaining it even in his physical absence had been being forged all along. Paradoxically, it was the very twist and turns that challenged that sustaining that simultaneously fueled their forging. I began to increasingly ponder sustaining heaven on earth as something beyond and greater than the joy and wonder my friend and I experienced in each other’s presence.
The keys are at the core of my adventure now, deeper gift beneath and beyond the gift of the unimagined and unimaginable friendship my beloved friend offered me. They continue to be further forged and together allow me to both sustain heaven on earth and participate in its continuing co-creation.