Hi! I have been thinking on our October theme of Oneness for the past few days. I know this feeling—it is rare, fleeting, but also reassuring, comforting, and keeps us moving forward. There have been times in my life when the feelings of oneness with others and the universe have been very subtle and present, simply as a moment of peace and gratitude. This happens occasionally when I am out running an errand or doing a monotonous task—a feeling of peace washes over me. I feel like I am where I am supposed to be, and no choices have been mistakes.
Mountain top moments
However, I have had four legitimate “mountain top moments” where the oneness, or connection to the universe, or the experience of “God,” has been practically screamed in my face. The feeling of oneness wasn’t just internal, but also physical and involved nature in some of its rawest forms. My experiences required extreme vulnerability, physical effort, and the desire to truly be immersed in the situation.
All four of these extreme experiences of “oneness” left me changed.
1) birth of first daughter
2) birth of second daughter
3) Literal mountain top, the mountains above Ushuaia, Argentina. My husband and I hiked during the last stop before the boat to Antarctica. I stopped to rest and enjoy the view.
I was sitting there watching and meditating. I opened my eyes to snow falling all around me. I was completely alone, but never felt more connected to a higher power in my life.
4) My husband and I were lucky enough to travel to South Africa before we had children and we began our trip with a safari in Kreuger. On the third night, we got word that two out of the three male lion brothers had been spotted hanging together not far from our current spot. Our ranger took us over to see them, and we came up on one male lion covered in blood and his older brother hanging back behind him.
They had just gotten into a fight with another group of males but had won this battle. The third brother was back with the female lions and cubs. The brothers were named The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. We had, in front of us, The Good and The Bad. My husband and our friends were seated in the back on the highest row of seats in the large, open-roofed Land Rover.
Our ranger was sitting in the driver seat with an elephant gun holstered to the hood. He had us just sit tight and watch. The brothers started moving over to check us out. I lost sight of where he went due to bushes around us.
After a few minutes, I look to my right and see him coming out around the side straight towards me. I was seated against the railing for a better view and was elevated about 8-10 feet in the air.
Brother Good came and sat down perpendicular to me, and I turned my head to see how far he was away.
I could have leaned down and touched the top of his head.
He could have easily jumped up and destroyed the whole car of people.
I remember locking eyes with him. I felt my heart drop into my chest and I held my breath. I quickly lowered my gaze and head. He stayed a few more moments and then walked behind the car so we couldn’t see him.
He came out of the bushes again and then laid down in front of our car. He rolled his tail on the ground a few times and let out the loudest roar I have ever heard. The vibrations of his roar were felt through the ground, and came up out of my body. I can’t really explain the feelings of awe, magnificence, terror, and exhilaration.
This was the type of experience that puts you in your place, but also includes you in the magic.
As I have gotten older, I find that I feel a sense of oneness in sad times. The world’s pain is no longer someone else’s problem. Perhaps its maturity or life experience. Perhaps it’s parenthood, the pandemic, or political unrest. All of it has made me feel more deeply for other people and situations.
I have always been sensitive to others and situations, but it is no longer an option to let certain things go unnoticed or ignored. A while back, a meditation teacher taught me about the Buddhist practice of tonglen (exchanging self/giving and receiving). The idea of tonglen is to take someone’s pain away on the inhale and send them loving kindness on the exhale. This has been a helpful and comforting practice of oneness in my learning to meditate and connect.
What are some ways you’ve felt a sense of oneness?
Do you have practices to intentionally connect?
Quanah Scoggins serves as the Lifespan Religious Education assistant. On Sundays, families and kids can join Quanah for Church of Play! She is also the chair for the Women of All Souls, connecting women of all ages to learn from each other. Email Quanah to get engaged in WAS, host programs, or gatherings.
Women of All Souls is hosting
BOOKS AND BROADS: WOMEN’S BOOK CLUB
Meets Monthly on the 1st Wednesday, at 7 pm. Part of Wednesday Community Connections
Please join Women of All Souls as we read The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers. Ms. Jeffers is a fiction writer, poet, essayist, and teaches creative writing and literature at the University of Oklahoma.
You may join us in-person (masked), or online. This book club is open to all who identify as a woman. Please come prepared with thoughts and questions! We will break the book up for discussion in the following sections:
November 3rd—Read and discuss through Song VII (pgs 257-517).
December 1st—Read and discuss the remainder of book.
On Zoom at allsouls.me/wcc