Our pained faces crack when we enter again into the mystery from which we have been separated. We recognize the mystery in ourselves, in another, or in some graceful transpiration of the world, and our pain is miraculously integrated into the wholeness of our beings. It does not cease entirely, as the mystery bears both joy and pain, but it is tempered, so long as we remain aware of the unity that lies behind each shade of our experience.

Our smiles are made possible by our pain. Having known and confronted alienation and loneliness, emptiness and despair, grief and anger, we may exude a joy rich with the fullness of our humanity. We smile so as to affirm life despite all pain. We smile at the wonder of the unknown. We smile, through all suffering, at the preciousness of the present. Our faces are pained when we are in anguish.

They crack at a glimpse of the gift. The gift is awareness — of this moment, of the other, of the redemption to be found in love. Our pained faces crack, not only at the splendor of dusk’s quiet sky, but at our awareness that we may perceive it at all — our awareness that we are.

We oscillate always between states of lack and discord, in which we feel set apart from the world and out of touch with ourselves, and states of wholeness and connectedness, in which we feel integrated into our environments and at peace with all that is. We fall easily into the plentitude of available diversions, both within and around us, and thus lose sight of the most simple and original truth: that each moment is an utter miracle.

Distracted by the pursuit of empty pleasures, and the accompanying, self-perpetuated pain, we forget the most wondrous fact — that we are. Bombarded by the incessant flow of insubstantial, fleeting thoughts, and tired by their constant occupancy, our minds forget that they are the bearers of the greatest gift: that of consciousness.

Our intuition reveals the truth of our transitory states. Our pained faces are the manifestations of an ongoing, inward struggle. We know, when our faces are pained, that we are not happy, that something is missing, that there is division within us and a rift in our relationships with others and with the world.

We know that we are not at home in ourselves, that we have in fact been set against ourselves. It is this very awareness, however, that points us in the direction of understanding. For to know that we feel alienated and conflicted is to know that there is a source from which we have been separated and a unity with which we are not aligned; it is to know that there is hope yet for realization and peace, wholeness and harmony. We need only look to our neighbors and really see them. We need only let our busy thoughts recede. We need only rest and be in the present.

And when this happens, when our pained faces crack into smiles and we rejoice with all of our beings in the awesomeness of the moment, we know, intuitively, that we have come home. We know, with every sensation of our bodies, that we are living as we were meant to live. There are no more questions, no more doubts, no more fears. We are only grateful. We give only praise.

Our pained faces have cracked, and we rejoice.