Any time we are aware of God’s presence, we step into the kingdom, even if only for a few seconds. When we can forget our false self’s needs, we are there. Being fully present to another person will take us there. The beauty of a sunset can transport us to the kingdom, as can any experience of being loved, being at peace and more.
And what do we find when we are there, in the kingdom? There is a sense in which time seems to stop or at least not to matter. There is fullness, a palpable sense that something more is present; our awareness on a sensory level is raised; there is a resonance we feel in our souls. We pay more attention to what’s at hand. There is emptiness in the sense that no one person’s desires, assumptions, expectations are operative, there is only the flow of love. There is welcome and belonging extended to whoever is there regardless of circumstances. There is love and embrace and forgiveness. There is seriousness and joy, sorrow and gratitude, love and anger—whatever is present in the people gathered. There is the saint and the sinner in everyone present. Regardless of everything, we are always welcome in the present moment that is the operating ground of the kingdom.
And why would we want to live there? Because of the aliveness, the fullness, the 100% of ourselves given that shows us what really living is like. Because God is present. Because there we fulfill the goal of loving God with all of ourselves, of loving ourselves and our neighbors—to rest in the arms of God, to live in that love and have it flow in and out of us in equal measure.
It may be a lifetime’s work to live there with God all the time. But every experience of the kingdom on the way becomes a magnet and a touchstone for the next and the next and the next. We don’t forget the times we were in the kingdom, they are treasured. What we can do is to build up a body of experience of God within us, of God operating in the world around us but also for us, and of God calling us back to himself so that we could fulfill our creation’s goal.
As we build that body of experience of God by placing ourselves more and more in God’s hands and in God’s presence, following his lead, embracing our lives as they are constituted, then we are drawn through the action of the Holy Spirit into God’s arms. It is the Spirit who transforms us into willing spirits/souls who would love nothing more than to rest in God’s arms. One of the by-products of living in, with and for God is that we acquire this unshakable trust in God’s providence, trusting that nothing can ever harm us, not because we are better or more worthy or richer or more educated, but because we are loved. And in love’s arms, no harm can come to us.
That’s not to say there won’t be challenges and suffering, but that when we are so connected to God that we rest in his arms, we are never threatened by anything again. We are one. And what is one cannot be divided.
Questions to ponder over the week: What do I have to do to stay in the kingdom or to return to it? How aware am I of God’s presence in my life? Do I have memories of being in the kingdom?