Quieting the mind is prerequisite to opening the heart. There must be a direct connection to the world before the Spirit can flow – the circuit has to be complete – otherwise we live only in our head. Thinking has to stop if we are to see what is actually there. And what is there will totally and completely blow your socks off.
One of my favorite movie scenes is in Grand Canyon, starring Kevin Kline and Steve Martin. All of the characters have complicated and deeply problematic lives. But at the end of the film (the only place the Grand Canyon appears) a carload of these frenetic people arrives at the Rim to take in the view, none of them having ever seen it before. In a moment, in as long as it takes for their eyes to adjust to the scale and grandeur, their minds and their petty egotistical concerns are wiped away. They are left speechless and thoughtless, their problems overwhelmed by the presence of something larger than themselves. The message is clear: wake up!
We have to find the spiritual equivalent of the Grand Canyon within ourselves. Awe is the juice of spiritual experience. True reverence is a response; it cannot be manufactured. All of the stories in the Bible about how God is this all-powerful, all-pervasive, thunderous presence, making God loom over our imaginations like daddy over our crib are simply the attempts of the early writers to impart this sense of awe, anything to break their readers out of their exoskeletal ego-consciousness.
What is it that brings your consciousness to its knees? Whatever that is, cherish it! Keep it close. Take it into meditation and let it be the backdrop of everything you do there. Like the immense cathedrals of Christendom, designed to draw the eye upward to scenes of heavenly glory, let your innerspace be large. Go there. Let its presence fill you. Let it stop you in your tracks. When you do, your mind will be quiet. And your eyes will be wide open.