It’s mid-February, a few days after the sacred feast of Saint Valentine, which perhaps we don’t fully recognize the import of, being confused about love, or Love, as we sometimes are.  It is raining in Northern California, at long last, an ebbing of the drought of the past three years, we hope.  I know the rest of the country has had the winter of no return, but spring, inevitably, thankfully, and providentially, is right around the corner.  Six weeks from now, there will be crocii in the Great Plains.

I have been given some showings of late, glimmerings of the divine, and, as almost always, they have been manifest in the most mundane if sometimes quite remarkable of human events and in the persons of other human beings.

For instance: The divine has chosen to show the divine self in a television series!  Who knew.  Last summer my friends Art and Jo said: “You have to get Friday Night Lights, the television show, not the movie.”  I knew it was about football, and a high school in Texas, and I was unmoved.  Not so unusual how wrong I was.  Scott and I have gone through the illuminating first season, and are anticipating the second.  It is a revelation, really.  The characters, to a person, hold the deepest aspects of humanity, both our grand and our shadowed parts.  The teenagers are emblems of authenticity, as teenagers always are, even in their emotional, sexual, and familial chaos.  The adults are, well, adults.  Some are dolts, some are developmentally regressed, some heroic, some holy.  All humbly human. All trying to find out about love.  The show captures the daily-ness of living an imperfectly honest life in the grit of contemporary American society.  I’d go so far as to say you’ll love it.

For instance:  At Christmas, my brother John and his wife Sonya gave us a three-disc set of audio recordings from Kevin Kling.  I opened the gift and my Enneagram One persona immediately thinks: “I don’t listen to audio tapes”.  Not so unusual how wrong I was.    Having never even heard of Mr. Kling, these tapes have made present another showing of the divine.  Kling, an evidently well-known storyteller of immense personal gifts, shares the most mundane aspects of being a human being.  His Minnesota voice makes Frances McDormand’s in Fargo sound sophisticated.  He sneaks in the presence of God obliquely and regularly.  He has an unusual disability he regards as a grace, and lives life with unusual rigor and absolutely no judgment.  Clearly not an Enneagram One.  Who knew the divine has such facility with current technologies, both DVD’s and audio tapes?  What’s next for a graced invasion, Facebook?

For instance:  There is currently a retrospective at the Art Museum at Boston College of the work of Georges Rouault, who made such an impression on me as a young Jesuit 35 years ago with his impasto evocations of Jesus, particularly Head of Christ and Ecce Homo.  Both are akin to his celebrated clownish figures, and appropriately so.  Rouault had fallen out of favor, as has my other early favorite, Marc Chagall, as art has moved into regions that do not tread near the divine, either in representation nor essence.  But he is still accessible (again, blessed technology) online.   I read about this show in a moving article in the current The New Republic, in a piece on the subtle re-emergence of the religious in art.  If you’re surfing, go to the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem’s web site and allow yourself to behold Chagall’s Jerusalem Windows.  Magnificent.   And find Ecce Homo.  Beyond magnificent.  Painted love.

For instance:  I recently submitted an on-air editorial to the local public radio station, where I have several times offered my opinions on topical issues.  I thought I had written a pretty smart piece, a defense of gay marriage, in light of the upcoming arguments before the California Supreme Court as to the constitutionality of the recently passed and very painful and ultimately unjust Proposition 8.  The editor, for whom I have a lot of respect, returned the editorial with several searching questions for me.  The gist of his comments: you are better than this.  He didn’t mean my style or prose.  I had railed against my opponents, cogently I thought, in essence calling them bigots. But I offered, really, little more.  In getting Mark’s response, I felt chastised.  And appropriately so.  I had not gone a nano-inch toward them, and completely left out the call I, we, have been given, to love our enemies.  I am re-thinking how I might do that.  Not re-writing the editorial, but, really, learning to love my enemies, perhaps by seeing in my self that which I find so hard to accept in them.  And it’s in there, rest assured.  A glimmering.

For instance:  Last week I went into Sawyers, the local card and news shop to get a Valentine for my One True.  While there, I found a card that brought to mind a friendship of mine, and I pulled that card into my stack.  A few minutes later, I delivered it back to its appropriate slot.  I thought: You can’t be saying I love you like that.  I made my smaller purchase and left the store.  Fast forward to Valentine’s Day.  That morning Dear Abby, one smart woman, printed a letter from a guy who was lamenting the fact that in grammar school all kids sent Valentines to all kids,  boys to boys, boys to girls, girls to girls and girls to boys. He had, as an adult, difficulty in finding the same courage to do the same now, though he wanted to.  I suspect he meant the boy-to-boy part, but who knows.  Later that day, I emailed my friend a lame but sincere Valentine’s note.  He graciously accepted it and returned the same.  I’m only 60, still learning to trust the stirrings to share my love.  The divine is still working with this one, thank you very much.

For instance:  The aforementioned on-air editorial was aimed at Mormons, or, I should say, my Mormon brothers and sisters.  I have a hard time with them.  And they with me, no doubt.  But who should I be reading currently but Terry Tempest Williams, another of the many avatars the divine embodies, a woman who has touched me for many years now with her gracious and trenchant writing. And, lo, she is a Mormon!  Go figure.  Williams has written her book, Finding Beauty in a Broken World, in three parts, which best be imagined as three trays stacked on top of one another.  Part One: she observes the beautiful and ancient mosaic work in the churches and convents of Ravenna, where mosaic is still created in the manner of the 9th century, CE.  She proceeds to learn this intricate and rough art, and in doing so weaves many strands into her emerging tale.   Part Two: the demise of the once vast and highly intricate and communicative prairie dog villages in the West, particularly near her home in Moab, Utah.  She knows her prairie dogs, and their essential role in the ecological conundrum we face, and she charts their demise, and perhaps ours, as development encroaches.  Part Three: she travels to Rwanda to help create a monument in a small city to the vast numbers of its denizens who lost their lives, often deceptively sheltered in churches, in the butcherings of 1994.  Her account, even if you have read others, is profoundly moving, as the spiritual, psychological and physical devastation continues to haunt the women and men of that tiny and unaccountably maimed nation.  And beyond.  She weaves these three parts together, or, the reader does with her, to create a vision and a whole of what we humans are about, and are called to, and must finally be.  A Mormon, my teacher.  Glimmerings.

Finally, for instance:  We traveled to Washington in January for the inauguration of the new president. We walked the streets of the District for four days, and I found myself mostly in tears.  Kinda non-stop.  Kinda no matter what of the innumerable moving vistas and vignettes I was witnessing.  The air was thick with emotion and historically-laden expectation.  But it was, I believe, most thick with forgiveness.  For what?  For everything.  For the racial divide, for all the minute separations we suffer, for the vagaries of justice, for the incivilities in which we partake, for the lack of magnanimous hearts we display on any given day, for, as the Irish say, for the all of it. I got the sense once again that there is this universal desire to be our best selves, our most generous selves, our most divinely-touched selves.   But as the weak human beings we are, we need to be again and perhaps daily shown how, reminded , mirrored, again, invited, somehow, to be our true selves.  To send metaphorical Valentine’s to everybody that say: There can never be too many I love you’s.    Below all of what we think we see going on is, I get, a vast and intricate network of energies, yes, graces, yes, showings, that are conspiring with our less-than-conscious selves to open us up and heal all of our wounds and heal each other and heal this wounded planet.  Glimmerings of the divine are everywhere.

So finally: As I finish this piece, the rain has abated some, but promises to return later this afternoon.  Nonetheless, shards of light crack through, are always cracking through, always saving us from ourselves, always giving us to each other.  And always returning us to the divine source from whence we came.

Happy belated Saint Valentine’s Day.