A centuries old adolescent tree supports its fallen brethren picked bone clean by the elements. The thirsty forest grows greener towards an elusive creek as we follow switchbacks down, down, down the face of the rugged valley. Wind chatters verdant needles, freeing the brittle dead to find rest at the feet of giants. My walking stick keeps double time with my breath dancing through the forest bursting with life. Finches flit brilliant yellow against mahogany manzanitas before being deftly camouflaged within golden-green meadows. Speckled black granite rises serene through deadwood to bask in the sunshine while shadowed boulders lay buried beneath abundant vegetation. Desiring to merge with this ancient forest, I focus my breath on the wind serenading the treetops, yet barely moving the cottonball clouds in the azure sky.

As my consciousness expands to encompass the life force around me, my feet keep pace with the heartbeat resonating beneath the mulch, my breath with the flute of the wind, my vision clears to perceive halos of color around every living thing and the stillness of the granite becomes magnified. Resting on its sun-drenched surface in the space between breaths, I become one with the rock that has seen a thousand saplings rise to the heavens and a thousand ancient pines crash to the earth. Life and death in harmonious balance, here in a place where the oldest living things on earth—the great sequoias, some thirty-five hundred years old—have seen us come and go.

I have experienced this Oneness many times in my life, running feet barely touching the ground, careening pell-mell past a glass lake on my roadbike, diving through the breakers to be greeted by dolphins, nursing my daughter whose smile revealed her delight when she captured my gaze. Everything shifts in that moment of connection. Time stands still. There is only us, awed by bliss.

As a healer I have known moments of transcendence—sitting face to face with a patient after a long-winded conversation, investigating every nuance of her ailment. Close enough to touch, I settle into myself, breathe with her, our auras gently overlapping…and suddenly, a spark of knowing. Reverently I share what I perceive—a past molestation, a present abuse, a soul longing to heal; deeper and deeper I fall, only if she is open to receive me, and I find the core issue…the pain of separation from Source, manifested as dis-ease, a troubled heart, broken relationships.

The tears start to fall when I name her courage, her truth. Our eyes lock and I see the Divine. We embrace…yes, I hug all my patients…and she expresses her gratitude and I thank her for allowing me to witness her growth. A warning knock to get me moving along, my office manager…and dear mother…perceiving the heat of our exchange through the energy seeping under the door, never knowing what might be explored in an hour’s consultation, but there are others who need me.

Some patients want to put me on a pedestal for this moment of grace, “You are amazing.” And I respond, “I am only reflecting your truth. What you perceive in me is your own divinity.” Some ask my faith. My answer—the Joy of Creation. We may call the Divine Consciousness by different names, but a rose is still a rose.

Born into an Italian Catholic family who attended mass on Easter and Christmas, I was dutifully christened as an infant and received my first Holy Communion after driving the nuns crazy with my seven year old observations. “I talk to God all the time. I don’t need to tell the priest my secrets.” By my mid-teens, I felt burdened with the responsibility of shepherding my younger sisters through the seventies, a time of drugs and rock and roll. One was in love with Donny Osmond; the Mormons had a youth group, promoted abstinence from illicit chemicals and premarital sex, so it was a no-brainer to invite two handsome nineteen year old missionaries to convert my twelve and fourteen year old sisters. The Latter Day Saints would watch over my charges.

Ten years later, I no longer saw eye to eye with the doctrines of the church and began exploring other religions, favoring ancient Celtic beliefs, kabalistic Judaism and Native American spirituality. Finding pearls of truth within the mud of religious dogma, I sought the Divine by following my spirit’s lead. Once when sharing with my only sister, who remained Mormon, the blessings of becoming a secret Santa for a less fortunate family, she commented that the difference between us was that she needed the church to guide her good works and I just did them. Actually, I was following my spirit. It was my eight year old son’s magnanimous idea.

My husband and I raised our children to revere the Divine in all, spending most Sabbaths in nature. Our son asked for a children’s bible for his sixth birthday, read it all in two weeks and became a force to be reckoned with on the religion questions in Trivial Pursuit. At ten he adopted our Jewish friends as godparents, at twelve he studied Wicca, at fifteen became a Buddhist, and today seeks spiritual community in the Unitarian Church. Our daughter on the other hand did not read Genesis until assigned by her AP English teacher and then wondered who would worship such a jealous god. Now as a college sophomore, she practices The Secret with finesse.

In writing my first novel based on the life of Mary Magdalen, I found comfort in the work of Neil Douglas Klotz who has some lovely translations of the Aramaic Gospels—the Peshitta. I discovered that the word Yeshua used to identify the Divine was Eloha which means Sacred Unity. Sacred Unity perfectly describes the connections I have experienced in my life. Some seek Sacred Unity through prayerful meditations, some through joyous song and dance, some in the sanctity of nature, some in the glory of a temple.

Scientists have even identified what happens in the brain when one is experiencing the Divine: A shift in electromagnetic frequencies from beta to theta waves, a surge of acetylcholine, a rise in melatonin, activity shifting from the cerebral hemispheres becomes centered in the cerebellum, the ancient part of the brain from which the medulla oblongata—the mouth of god—emerges. I believe that experiencing the Divine is not only in stillness, but through the sensual human form in consciously connected activity.

If scientists would have measured my brain activity the first time I kissed the partially-shaven head of my prematurely born two pound son, they would have noted a profound shift in neurochemistry and electromagnetic potential for in that moment the blaring beeps of the neonatal intensive care unit were silenced, the only light shone around his tiny face and I was in deep gratitude for the gift of his precious life.

We have all experienced these moments, briefly albeit and perhaps we did not recognize them as a divine connection, an embrace with Sacred Unity, but the Divine is in everything. In writing the Mary Magdalen novel, I also researched many ancient practices to achieve divine connection: modes of prayer, meditation, practices of severe abstinence, use of sacred herbs, ritual dance, chanting, song and sacred sexuality. Today clinical psychology has several peer reviewed studies on the use of psychedelic drugs to induce transformational states. How many use chemicals, illicit or not, to achieve cerebral shifts or revert to severe ascetics of fasting and abstinence to achieve clarity!

We search to connect through drastic means when perhaps connection is as simple as a small child discovering a bug on the sidewalk. In her awe of creation, she doesn’t question what or why, but enjoys a precious moment with the tiny creature scurrying across her palm. Her face reflects absolute bliss. The bug isn’t yucky or creepy, for the child holds no judgement of its existence, but delights in the feel of its miniscule legs on her skin. She sees the Divine in all, connecting with the grace of a dancer. She isn’t seeking connection, but toddling through this paradise enjoying the sweet ripe fruits which fall into her open hands. At her tender age, she is open to receive all the blessings of this life because she was born conscious. At about age seven most children join adults in falling asleep to the truth of Sacred Unity, then will spend lots of time, energy and money seeking spiritual guidance to become awakened.

Our life is a gift to be treasured—every morsel we place in our mouths to be enjoyed thoroughly, every breath that passes our lips sweet as honey, every experience, every bug that crosses our path, every unique and lovely soul who shares our existence—every aspect to be received in loving gratitude. That’s how we achieve Sacred Unity.

A few times when riding my beloved horse, I have had the experience of slipping into another reality. Cantering along an open trail on a free rein, she opens up, her hooves barely skimming the earth. I feel every muscle in her back and neck contract against my thighs and palms, the heat of her body infuses into mine, our breath becomes as one. Then everything shifts. The air seems to sparkle, colors enhance, the trees sound musical and the birds literally sing in a perceptible chorus. Past the veil of illusion, we exist in the reality of this beautiful earth dimension. Only dogs and small children notice us, adults are oblivious.

Once I experienced this moment of connection while behind a woman pushing a baby stroller. My horse and I were in ecstatic union. Her toddler waved at us, but realizing the mother was unaware of our presence, we slowed down. Just in time, for the woman made a sharp turn, right in front of us. We stopped abruptly now fully in her reality as she cried, “Where did you come from?” Strangely, I could see her and her child could see me. Either she was lost in a state of oblivion or I was in a place that only small children perceive.

My spiritual mentors have advised over the years that I sit still to meditate. And I’ve tried, really I have, but the profundity of connection and the epiphanies that often come within that moment of Sacred Unity are no different then those I have experienced in my daily existence. Sometimes I have the most amazing visions when I am mucking the corral. Life is a living, breathing, dancing, laughing meditation for me. The same feeling of connection, the same shift in perspective, the same sense of awe, the same feeling of bliss, I have experienced in the eyes of my patients, the kiss of a child, the scent of a flower, the song of a hummingbird, the embrace of my beloved.

A few years ago, I finally sat in the lotus position, hands at my knees, thumb meeting forefinger trying to quiet my mind. My brief meditation was interrupted by laughter. I was being laughed at and it was so childlike and contagious that I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. I heard the voice that guided me as a child, the same one I tried to describe to the bewildered nuns so many years ago. It said—this isn’t your way.
I wondered aloud if the Divine presence laughed at all who sought it and was shown that we meet the Divine through the truth of ourselves. My truth is Joy, so I perceive the Divine as blissful laughter and also in glorious dance, delighted song, delicious food and sweet wine, riding my horse, playing with children, taking a hot bath, swimming in the brisk ocean, making passionate love. Because the Divine is in everything, Sacred Unity has always been possible.

Ask any small child and she’ll show you that heaven is here on earth.

Author's Bio: 

Deborah Maragopoulos MN APRN, BC FNP is a holistic nurse practitioner, inventor of Genesis Gold®, and author of LoveDance: Awakening the Divine Daughter featured at www.lovedance.com