The Layers in My Life

Today is the feast day of St. Joseph. Jesus, as a grown-up man, was referred to as the son of the carpenter – a testimonial to his being a father. But I often associate Joseph with sleep and dreams. He got the inspiration and guidance on what to do during important events in his life in his sleep and dreams.

Indeed, sleep does not only rejuvenate and renew. It can also inspire, direct and guide. There have been many times I would sleep on a problem or a question or even a project. And on waking up the next day, I would have the solution or the answer or the elements I was looking for to get the project started.

I see myself living life on several layer. There is the layer of the senses. I see, I touch, I smell, I hear, I taste the world around me. Then there is the deeper layer of the intellect, the emotions, my imagination and my guts. I can wrap my mind around goodness. I do not see nor hear goodness itself but I know when an act is good or bad. I cannot see beauty itself but I can feel what a beautiful experience is. There are people I have never met before but in my guts I might instinctively and spontaneously like or dislike them. Then there is the deepest level where beyond the senses and beyond my intellect and emotions I am aware of Something or Someone else present in my life.

I would like to believe I experience this third and deepest layer of my existence during sleep. My senses are all ‘turned off’. My mind, my emotions, my imagination and my guts are at rest. And yet I am during those hours of sleep. I am renewed. I am rejuvenated. I am probably most myself. I am alone with that Someone who is my Source and my Life.

I believe this is also what happens in real prayer. I shut off my senses. Then I shut off my mind, my emotions, my imagination, and guts. And in the empty space that remains, it is not darkness but Divine Light that is there. I get to encounter my God. I become suffused by the Divine Presence and then I slowly surface up again. I open my senses and try to see the world around me even as I am still soaked in the Divine Presence. I look at my thoughts, my feelings, my imaginings  and my guts and see how these have been touched and transformed by my encounter with God.

St. Joseph, pray for us.

The son of David will live for ever.
~ Psalm 89

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.
Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24

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