Ours is a layered existence. The common understanding of life is to see it as a dichotomy: day and night, up and down, hot and cold, wet and dry. But life is more complex, it is one element layered upon another element, layered upon yet another element.
A forest is a living organism and it is a layered living organism. There is the canopy, then the understory, then the shrub layer, then the forest floor and then the underground. It is a total ecosystem and each layer is another ecosystem by itself. Each layer is supportive and dependent on the other layers.
A tree is a living organism and its age can be determined by the layers of rings around its trunk. Each passing season leaves a ring that the tree carries for the rest of its life. A bitter winter might perhaps leave a ring that is slightly thicker than the others as the tree tries to coat itself with a warmer coating. A drought might leave a more brittle layer as the tree struggles to live with less water. But all the layers taken together make for a sturdy and lively trunk over the years.
I am alive and I live a layered existence. There is the layer of the senses by which I perceive and recognize the world around me. Through my senses, I can see, hear, smell, touch and taste. Then there is the layer of my consciousness through which I understand and make sense of the world around me. My consciousness would include my intellect, my emotions, my imagination and my guts. Then, there is the metaphysical layer through which I become aware, beyond the senses, beyond my consciousness, beyond the space and time that bound me; I am aware that I have a Divine Source and a true home I am longing for. It is this layer that tells and teaches me that life is stronger than death, that light is stronger than darkness, that love is more powerful that hate and that good will triumph over evil. At this level, I am aware of my will and my freedom and that I can decide to be a part of or to be against the proper unfolding of the world around me.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.
~ Psalm 34
Jesus moved about within Galilee;
he did not wish to travel in Judea,
because the Jews were trying to kill him.
But the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near.
But when his brothers had gone up to the feast,
he himself also went up, not openly but as it were in secret.
Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem said,
“Is he not the one they are trying to kill?
And look, he is speaking openly and they say nothing to him.
Could the authorities have realized that he is the Christ?
But we know where he is from.
When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.”
So Jesus cried out in the temple area as he was teaching and said,
“You know me and also know where I am from.
Yet I did not come on my own,
but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true.
I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.”
So they tried to arrest him,
but no one laid a hand upon him,
because his hour had not yet come.
John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30