Decades of Time and then Imageless Silence

The 1980s have become the present in the moment to moment images that pass through my awareness. I’m familiar with meditation, or so I think. These aren’t thoughts. Perhaps it’s what I enjoy most about this practice: focusing on my breaths brings to mind what comes before thoughts: images. The present doesn’t seem to remain in one place for very long during these ten or fifteen minutes. First come images of myself in the early 1980s as a freshman or sophomore in high school, seated in a chair in our backyard, a novel in my hands, reading sentences and pages with an intensity that was miles away from consciousness. It was a religious book. Of course it wasn’t! It was a novel. I didn’t know that I was intense. I loved novels whose narrators welcomed me into their minds. I was unaware that I felt unwelcome in my own. The novel’s first-person narrator was an accomplished artist who told the story of how he’d struggled to discover the creative person in himself. He grew up in a religious family, and he wrote about studying the Bible with his father. These accounts by the narrator somehow made me, the reader, eager to have similar experiences. More images come to me as I count my breaths during these minutes of meditation. It was a Sunday morning in the mid 1980s and a Bible was in my hands. I was with a friend at church and I imagine that the pastor was well into his sermon on one of the books of the New Testament. Suddenly, the text before me became alive, as if in my imagination I was present as the author of that particular book of scripture translated God’s wisdom into words. This inner experience ended moments later. Now, decades later, another inner experience nears its end. Imageless silence arrives without warning. I open my eyes and stop counting breaths.

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