Inspiration is a tricky thing, and, at least for me, the muse is always elusive. Recently, quite unbidden and utterly unexpectedly, the sky split open and gave me a downpour of light and inspiration. I hadn’t realized the fog had gradually gotten so cottony and thick around my spirit; but there it was, suddenly blown away by the shocking and beautiful flood of light. This appears to be my pattern with the divine. There are people who seem to carry quiet, constant inspiration with them, on a slow drip like irrigation pipes under straw on a hot summer day. I used to wonder what was wrong that I didn’t always feel the small but companionable whispering. It would make me question my faith.
But I’ve been at this long enough and have accumulated enough experiences to know that’s just not how the Lord communicates with me. It’s not a fault, as I once imagined, nor is it a shortcoming- rather, it’s a certainly that this relationship with me is personal, unique to me- as it must be to everyone. The Lord lets me go my merry way— my spiritual life almost arid and cerebral—and then when I least expect it, he opens the faucet, turns the floodgate, unzips the clouds, kicks over the table, and throws open every window in the house. All at once. For a few moments, I am drowning in light, gasping for breath, spiritually running for every dish and pitcher I can find to catch the downpour. In this deluge, there are answers, prayers, and soul-searing guidance I may have been seeking for months– or even for years.
Then, just as abruptly, it stops. Like a garden after a warm summer thunderstorm, I am drenched, dripping with sustenance- in the aftermath there is clarity and direction and inspiration and communion. Dazed, I look around, wondering what was caught in the ewers and bowls, and knowing this will overfill my lamp. There is no drip irrigation in my garden; there is down-pour. There is no slow, steady whispering of direction- there are overflowing rain-barrels, providing everything needed for the long seasons ahead, whatever season that may be.
These unique interactions with the divine speaks to the personal nature of God in ways little else can. While I may not have had the tangible ability to understand my innate aesthete, even as a child, God knew. He knew how my mind worked, how my spirit would best be touched, and what I would need to to be inspired, to look where my gaze was needed, and to find my way home. He knew a constant slow feed wouldn’t grow me into the person I needed to be. Awareness of this also brings into focus that which nourishes me, might drown another, and what would leave me withering on the vine might be exactly what my sister or brother needs.
We have words we use to speak of the divine— I use them myself with varied success, and ply them as my trade— but words are necessarily barriers. For something to be understood, it must also be understood what it is not. For me, this overwhelming sensory experience of the divine, outside of words and for a very brief series of moments outside of time, sears and seals light into my soul in ways nothing else could or can. In the middle of the rain is where my heart is set afire.