The Heart of Reality

More than one hundred years ago, while convalescing in hospital, Margaret Montague had an unexpected and beautiful experience of life as it really is. The nurses had just wheeled her outside for some fresh air. As she recalls, it was an ordinary, dingy day. Her spirits were about the same, as was generally the case for her at that time. She could not remember if the revelation came slowly or suddenly, only that she was overcome with the stunning beauty of it.

I only remember finding myself in the very midst of those wonderful moments, beholding life for the first time in all its young intoxication of loveliness, in its unspeakable joy, beauty, and importance. I saw no new thing, but I saw all the usual things in a miraculous new light – in what I believe is their true light. I saw for the first time how wildly beautiful and joyous, beyond any words of mine to describe, is the whole of life. Every human being moving across that porch, every sparrow that flew, every branch tossing in the wind, was caught in and was a part of the whole mad ecstasy of loveliness, of joy, of importance, of intoxication of life.

Margaret’s experience was originally published anonymously as Twenty Minutes of Reality in a newspaper of the day. One of the respondents to the article assured her that she could not only have twenty minutes of Reality but such could become the reality of her whole life. The respondent continued that with dedicated prayer, we become like the chicken breaking from its shell and stepping into the sunshine. Thus, the sunshine becomes the normal (not the exceptional) experience of life.

Another respondent explained that as a child he had grown up under the influence of a keenly religious mother. However, when he ventured out into the real world it came as quite a shock. He became sick and weak and lost all his beliefs in God and most things good. It one day occurred to him, rather surprisingly, that it might be possible that all the spiritual thought of his youth could be true, even though he had long since left it behind for rational argument. He asked God that if it was true then God would show him so. He was then overcome with a deep conviction and knowingness of spiritual existence. It left all too quickly. He prayed again that God might return. Indeed, the spiritual light did return, the more he asked. Soon he came to rely upon it as a sure law. Eventually, what he called the conviction stayed with him permanently.

Here is Margaret Montague’s article about her experience (read by me on YouTube)

From The Love of Devotion

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