Ever tell yourself a story, a story that in the process of the telling grows stronger? A story about the meaning of life–your life, life in general? As a small child, a story knotted itself within me without words. It guided me silently. But moment by hour, day by decade, I have learned its significance.
Unlike David Spangler, I didn’t have transcendent journeys and life-altering visions as a kid. But I did have this inner story. It’s only now, though, as an adult with the vantage point of having lived enough of the adventure to see some chapters and recurring themes, that I can appreciate that quiet companion of my early years. It gave me something to hold onto, intangible and yet with considerate depth.
While reading about David’s life-altering vision at the age of seven, one passage in particular stood out to me:
For reasons I no longer remember, I had been thinking about the riddles of existence. Why was I here? Where did I come from? Who was I? As I looked up at the Nehi sign with the Arab women working below, I remember asking myself, “Who was I before I was David Spangler? Who am I who is looking at this sign?”
Reading these words, I remember thinking, How wizened seven year olds can be! I know adults that don’t have this depth of presence!
But it seems that’s a key part of the particularity of the human experience. As children we can attune to our origin story more easily. The trick, then, becomes to not forget it as the pressures of living in the world build and start to supplant our inner worlds with mechanisms contrary to that inborn understanding.
The key is remembrance.
I’m reminded of a passage from Dan Millman’s Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior about little girl Sachi:
Mama Chia put down her food and gazed past the clearing into the thick emerald forest:
“Nine years ago I helped bring Sachi into the world. When she was four, I also welcomed her little brother.“Soon after her brother was born, little Sachi began to ask her parents to leave her alone with the new baby. They worried that like most four-year-olds, she might feel jealous and want to hit or shake him, so they said no. But she showed no signs of jealousy. She treated the baby with kindness and her pleas to be left alone with him became more urgent. They decided to allow it.Elated, she went into the baby’s room and she shut the door, but it opened a crack-enough for her curious parents to peek in and listen. They saw little Sachi walk quietly up to her baby brother, put her face close to his and say quietly, “Baby, tell me what God feels like. I’m starting to forget.”“She said that?” I asked, in awe.“Yes.”