Thursday, February 23rd. The second day of Lent.

There is a dog in my neighborhood that watches the world through a gap between two boards in the fence around his yard. When I jog by I can see one of his eyes peering out at me. He seems filled with fear at the tiny slice of life he can see and barks ferociously when people pass by. I suppose we tend to fear what we cannot understand. And how can he understand what he sees?

Strangely enough I thought of this dog when I first saw the delightful photos of Japanese fireflies by photographer Tsuneaki Hiramatsu. He set his camera for a long exposure and has shown us for the first time a deeper reality of the firefly. If you and I could see in four dimensions, meaning we could hold a passage of time in our minds and perceive an unfolding reality in its wholeness, this is perhaps how we would see fireflies.

Click to see the photo collection at

I am as lost in the singularity of the present moment as that dog is lost behind the sad little gap between two boards. The dog cannot see me and I cannot see God

Is that what I really want to say? That I cannot see God. I’m thinking, pausing here at the keyboard. Yes, I think I do want to say that. I cannot see God. I cannot perceive a higher reality, an eternal reality. Sometimes in prayer, if I am very still and quiet, mostly if I am not talking but only listening, I lose the feeling of my hands and enter a state of peace. In those moments I think maybe I see something. But I’m not sure. I do like those moments though. Very much I like them.

What draws me back to the Church? I’m not paid to believe in God, as I once was. I’m not paid to go to church, as I was for so many years. Why do I seek to find God when so many people seem happy to live their lives without concerning themselves with what lies beyond us, if anything does?

My mind keeps returning to the dog in my neighborhood. Every time I go past he is looking through that crack. He puts one eye to the gap and then the other. He has no idea what is out there but some instinct in him drives him to the edges of his existence and causes him to look and wonder and, yes, even fear what is out there.

I cannot leave it alone, you see. I have to look beyond. Because I do so love God. Or at least the idea of God.

I’ll take either, by the way. God or the idea of God. Whatever I can get.

Gordon Atkinson

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