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Imelda Shanklin: The Shining Center

The life that is in us is a flame out of the heart of God. And the flame out of the heart of God gives a light, surpassing any light which the eyes of men have seen. The light of the flame produces an energy so fine and so pure that its most accurate translations do not reach into the zone of the commonplace but act in the midrealm of miracles.

In the commonplace, the flame has its outletting in the ringing laughter and the spontaneous acts of childhood; in the free movements of the happy creatures of the wild; in singing hills; in newly verdured fields; in the revivifying winds from sea and from mountain height. Whatsoever is limitless, whatsoever is not trammeled, whatsoever is new bears witness of the light of the flame.

The flame has in it that which can make all our days to be as the days of spring, when the life surge floods the earth and the sky. It holds that which can make our thoughts, movements, desires, and endeavors joyous with a never flagging interest in existence and in our daily work and companionships.

Life is divine, and the divine is always young. The flame dies not nor decreases in brilliancy. To realize the nature of the flame is to keep life at the dew-jeweled morning of hope, expectation, and courage. Then the road of our days becomes a wonderpath; then evil retreats beyond the horizon. Our courage mounts to the heavens; it spreads a film of magic over all the earth. The abyss before us does not daunt us; with laughter that makes little our toils, we bridge the abyss and proceed. The precipice rising sheer at our feet is but a challenge to our spirits; we shout as we climb, and from its crest we exult over the fairer prospects ahead. The desert stretches have no terrors for us; we search out the hidden springs and by them are refreshed; we rest in the oases and sing to the stars that strew the nightly vault like glowing gems.

Life is immanent. It is crowded with gifts; it is athrill with the vivacity which marks beginnings. Forever youthful is the soul, courageous, and glad. Weariness and lifeless routine cannot make inert its eager possibilities, nor dull the flame, nor stay the golden horn of love from pouring out its brimming largess along our paths.

Both divine and immanent, life is both opportunity and compulsion. The flame out of the heart of God makes us its lamps, and the illumination given within the soul is opportunity. We need not walk in darkness nor brood in twilight shade; let us look upon what the shining of the flame reveals. Then a mighty fearlessness will evermore be ours.

We cannot forever remain blind to the light, unresponsive to the newness, the gladness, and the loveliness of the flame itself. Recognition is followed by compliance with what the illumination shows us to be the thing demanded. But the joy of the revelation inhibits repining, and we cheerfully accord with every necessity; we even rejoice, for we know that "hitherto hath Jehovah helped us."

We cannot forecast what the revelation and the accomplishment will be in us, because "it is not yet made manifest what we shall be." But "we shall be like him," the Light of light, "for we shall see him even as he is." And He, upon whom we shall look, is the shining center where the flame becomes I AM. We shall see the flame and the shining center, shall know their likeness, and be glad.

It is wise not to direct the flame; it is wisdom to let the flame shine. Letting it shine, it will dissolve what we have made and will disclose what God has created.

The life of Jesus the Christ is the best illustration of how to let the flame illumine us and of what it will reveal to us.

In him life was not yoked with frailties of body; it bore no impress of time. His was the clarity of mind that recognized the substance within the shape; hence the increase of the loaves and fishes. His was the alertness which warded off the congealing processes of time, hence today he is in the sunrise epoch of eternal life.

The value of the Jesus Christ example in the cosmic scheme is emphasized by the works which attest his superhuman influence on the invisible side of life. His value to the individual is indicated in his explanation that the works of which he was the human agency really were radiations from the shining center. He wove no mystery veil between those achievements and our minds. A direct, unequivocal command to devils, and they departed. A sweet and earnest appeal to the Father, and the dead were revived.

Not the persuasive eloquence of fervid oratory but simple, comprehensible words; not robed in impressive habiliments of caste but dressed as other men dressed; not an ascetic life of psuedo-holiness but a free commingling with friend and neighbor — such were the ways of Him in whom the flame revealed all things of heaven and of earth.

Sincerity expands the shining center and keeps the flame unclouded.

If we receive our own light and walk in the path of the flame, our souls will be kept illumined by immediate contact with the shining center. By immediate contact there is imparted to us a newness which refreshes; and by immediate contact comes the perennial bloom of heaven and of lives redeemed from death, which have been the goal of Christian hopes for centuries — the quest of the soul from the beginning of time.

In the minds of us is the only possible staleness. If one stoops over his work long enough he will have a bent back, and the bent back will cause him pain if he tries to stand erect. If the mind always looks down, the soul becomes stooped, and an effort to straighten will be resisted. If the flame be obscured by any veiling, the perception is blurred, mental growth lags; but when the flame is permitted to shine without obstruction the mind is kept alert and growing. Then heaven and earth are brought into cooperation, and flesh and blood are electrified by Spirit.

The life substance is fresh, impressionable, adaptable to our needs, as bread, as renewed bodies, as youthful days. Although one see a thousand thousand mornings, each may be the threshold of a newer and a better life; and, if one perform the same task year after year, each day of each year may uncover novel beauties and fresh opportunities. For the earth is wide, the heavens are illimitable, and the soul is universal. Vision, directed by the searchlight of the flame, may sweep the earth and the sky and infinity, and in its questings find the newness which unshackles our minds and liberates them to God. Life is within. We look at a tree and see the form which the tree idea has shaped. The idea is perceived mentally but not physically. Shining center connects with shining center, and we, having a knowledge of the connection which surpasses the knowledge possessed by beast, by plant, by element, have authority over all these. The shining center is the birthplace of miracle, of deathlessness, of perpetual newness.

Events are the outermost effects of mental actions. We cannot begin with the event and carry it back to the midrealm of miracle. Whatever change is wrought in the visible first occurs in the invisible. The mental act stamps its impress upon the surface. Our mental acts are those that are justified by our understanding, and understanding equals the play which we give the light of the flame.

The surface is the waste region of life, and when we do not walk by the light we bytrack into desolate areas. Then the dews of hope are congealed to the frosts of disappointment; the verdant path is lost in branchings which decoy us to barren hills and dry watercourses. Pathetic old Ponce de Leon, searching for what all men desire, rambled through strange, wild worlds. He held his consciousness at the surface, therefore he could not find the fountain of youth. And men have laughed at him, not understanding him any better than they have understood themselves.

Consciousness held at the surface registers in five periods of activity: infancy, childhood, youth, maturity, decline. Infancy is the period of innocence; childhood is marked by interest; youth dares; maturity is harvest; decline is temporary renunciation of what has been gained on the surface, and it culminates in retreat within the soulical.

When consciousness is held at the shining center, life enters maturity retaining the innocence, the interest, and the daring of the first three periods. All excellence is of the soul, therefore even in the period of decline, the innocence of infancy, the interest of childhood, the daring of youth, and the harvestings of maturity are within the soul, because the soul never loses any of itself. It can lose what does not belong to it, and in order to free itself from the extraneous it withdraws from the body and in some manner reincarnates, in an effort to come into clearer consciousness of the shining center.

Within age is maturity; within maturity is youth; within youth is childhood; within childhood is infancy. A man of ninety is also a man of fifty, of thirty, of twenty. The capabilities expressed in these periods are of the soul. Being of the soul, they are incorporated in the man's consciousness, and are accessible to him. Maturity is a development, not a possession and not a separation from youth. Youth is an interest in life, not a measure of time and not inexperience.

Within the within is the shining center. It is accessible to all. One does not have to pass through any period in order to incorporate it, or in order to seek it, for the shining center is I AM, the fountain of consciousness.

Consciousness, if kept at the surface, will betray us. What appears to be has no real bearing on the facts that pertain to the soul, but it frequently deceives us and so causes us to substitute the false for the true. The surface changes daily. A look into the mirror for reassurance or for warning is a look into mortality. The surface can have no standard of values because of its inconstancy. A look into the shining center is a look into immortality, where unchanging perfection is the standard of values.

Life is consciousness, and consciousness is of whatever we have trained ourselves to believe. The surface is the outletting of consciousness, and on the surface each is as old as he feels and as young as he thinks. At the shining center, each is as young and as old as God. The time gauge cannot be applied to us, except in our surface associations. By setting consciousness on the hourglass of experience, life is brought into the fifth period, the period of decline. But God and the shining center and the soul have nothing to do with this. They are ageless.

The mind that is not expectant of the miracle cannot receive the newness which the shining center radiates. Yielding to routine and accepting surface events as finalities, cause the flame to become dim, so that it cannot reveal the ever-varying wonders of the world in which we live.

If we have accepted falsities we need not longer let them hold their somber shades between us and the glory of the flame. The shining center responds to our appeal. If we ask it to blot out the shades, it will do so with a radiation which acts without regard to seasons, heredity, or appearances. It will bloom in miracle following miracle. Our days no longer will be dull, our thoughts no longer will be stale. The unusual and interesting will greet us at every turn. Where have been sharp nettles of discontent will grow the tender lilies of a lasting peace. Where have been drowsy apathy and dull hopelessness will be vibrant interest and radiant cheer.

By the flow of the shining center outletting through us, our minds slough the errors with which a regard for tradition has incrusted them, and the freed consciousness expands to visions of vast fields which lie invitingly ahead. The world of yesterday and routine is re-created, virgin from the sculpturing hands of God, and all our days are young. The sky is filled with the song of the morning stars, and the shouts of the sons of God call us to a companionship in which joy is spontaneous and achievement is known to be not of our devising but of the works of the Supreme.

O thou Shining Center within, radiate for me, that I stumble not nor delay upon the path. Radiate in me, that thy effulgent glory may be forever undimmed in my soul. Let thy light be my light, that by it I may see God, who, through all the ages, my soul has yearned to look upon. Amen.