MEDITATION TIP —Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, January 15, 2023

“I saw the ‘spirit’ descend from heaven like a dove and rest upon him” (John 1:32).

 How did John see the “spirit” descending from heaven like a dove? Was this just a literary expression? Some say that in those days, when science and technology were not as advanced as they are today, people’s spiritual senses were far more acute than they are today. There have been many stories of apparitions of the Virgin in various parts of the world since an-cient times. Regardless of their truth or falsehood, we often hear that children up to the age of about 3 years old have spiritual abilities or can see the “invisible world.” In fact, we sometimes hear that a small child in one family saw a grandfather or grandmother who was supposed to be dead, or an animal who was supposed to be gone. The family members usually laugh and talk about it, but I have also heard such stories many times, and I believe that small children with pure hearts can actually see the “invisible world.” Therefore, I do not deny the stories I hear about the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin to little children in various parts of the world and to those who are in extreme situations of persecution. Maybe the Virgin Mary or an angel appeared to us when we were small children, too. We just don’t remember. Unfortunately, as we grow up, such spiritual abilities are overwritten by so much knowledge and information from the external environment that it becomes difficult to feel the bliss that we should feel. Conversely, some older people begin to sense the existence of an “invisible world” that they were unaware of when they were younger.

 We often hear the words “power spot.” It refers to a place where, for some reason, you can find a place where you feel a strong energy, and where people who also have strong energy can find a place where they can feel the same energy. But not everyone feels the same way. Only those who feel it will feel it. One person told me that the 10-minute walk to the bus stop after work was the most prayerful time of his day. For that person, that 10-minute walk is a power spot. I also have my own power spots. It is on the bank of a big river. For example, in Hyogo Prefecture, they are the Kako River and the Muko River, which flow into the Seto Inland Sea, and the Maruyama River, which flows into the Sea of Japan. When I start walking along the banks of rivers, my heart turns toward God and my heart overflows with gratitude. Walking becomes a prayer. The river is my second cathedral, giving me spiritual guidance. I especially like to walk upstream. The river comes from the mountains, so I can see a big mountain range in the distance. This mountain range is the altar, and the sun shining down on it is the candle that lights the altar. The trees rustling in the wind are the conductors, and the birds chirping are the choir. The waterfowl on the surface of the river are the offertory servers, and the children playing soccer and baseball on the riverbank are the alter services. The breeze that tickles the cheeks is the scent of incense. And so, when I walk on the thick carpet of green grass toward the mountain range, Christ is waiting for me beyond that mountain range. Whenever I bow my head to the whole forest with this feeling, I find myself looking rather small in the midst of my troubles.

 I hope you, too, will look for a second cathedral where you can feel refreshed. Just express your gratitude there, that’s all you need to do. Sharpen your senses and feel the “invisible world” that keeps you alive in this world. In this way, with an honest heart, let’s see things as they are.

      (Father Akabae)