Engaging Great Mystery

"I have the instincts of a Gambler with a heart for God."

Secret to Survivin’

— by Kori Lane

“Spiritual Practice.” Sounds kinda like piano practice. Just doin’ the same thing over and over in order to become accomplished.

I prefer communing with “Great Mystery” and engaging with “The Divine.” It’s more like play than performing a task. I don’t mean it’s always fun. Scuffed knees, broken bones and even death can come to those who play! But the possibility of transcending the mundane keeps me in the game.

At age 60-something, I recognize that I am my Daddy’s daughter, and I unwittingly have absorbed his philosophical outlook, “Life is a crapshoot.” I was also influenced by the faith of my maternal Grandmother. “In all ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.” The result is that I have the instincts of a Gambler with a heart for God.

Words from Kenny Roger’s song, “The Gambler” often play as a guiding refrain in my head.

You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,

Know when to walk away and know when to run…

Ev’ry gambler knows that the secret to survivin’

Is knowin’ what to throw away and knowing what to keep.

For me, the soul journey is about paying attention to the cards one is dealt… and deciding what to hold, what to safeguard, and what to deem as sacred. AND knowin’ what to throw away.

The feeding of one’s soul is not dissimilar to nourishing one’s body. It’s all about making choices as to what one takes in. And I gotta admit, not all that builds and sustains the soul is easy to swallow. I’m intrigued with those who find spiritual succulence in the most challenging conditions. They are the real risk takers. The faith stalkers. It is easy to trust the goodness of the universe when one is dealt a winning hand.

In the book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Victor Frankel, an Austrian Holocaust survivor, tells of being cold, naked, and forced to dig ditches under the scrutiny of German guards. His soul cried out for meaning and comfort. Then he looked up and noticed the beauty of the vast blue sky. His heart was filled with thanksgiving for the simple blessing. A promise. A reason to persevere. Frankel risked harboring a spirit of hope, while others tossed in their hand.

Life offers a feast of ways to feed the Spirit/Soul/Self. The important thing is to show up. Daily. Energy wanes without proper nourishment! By savoring morsels that enrich, expand, and enliven our essence, we can transform our hearts into wellsprings of gratitude. I think that is the winning card in this game of life.

The kid in me loves the serendipity of it all. Sometimes a magical encounter occurs when I’m perched on a cushion and quiet the chatter in my head. Sometimes it happens when I’m intimately engaged with the natural world. My soul is frequently stirred while creating art or appreciating the artistic expression of others. Children can serve as spiritual muses, as do friends, strangers, and even the critters of the world.

Modern day gamblers carry their amulets, perform rites of mojo, and call upon the blessings of “Lady Luck.” But few know the sacred origins of our games of chance. The roulette wheel is a Wheel of Fortune, and Lady Luck evolved from Fortuna, the Roman Goddess of Fate. Prior to that, the Etruscans prayed to Vortumna, which meant “SHE who turns the earth.”

Underlying practices that some find profane are often elements of the profound. And some who appear holy are merely bluffing. So as I scan the cards in my hand, I try and remember,

Ev’ry gambler knows that the secret to survivin’

Is knowin’ what to throw away and knowing what to keep.