I have finally jumped on the bandwagon of binge-watching “The Crown” on Netflix. That is not my usual favorite FBI mystery-chase-find the bad guy genre; but, I got hooked pretty quickly.
My favorite episode is in season two. Phillip, Duke of York, husband of Queen Elizabeth, has already spent years being a bit…shall we say, antsy? The year was 1969, and Phillip became obsessed with the upcoming Apollo 11 launch and potential walk on the moon. Phillip was a pilot and loved to fly. The thought of being in outer space seemed to be his ultimate idea of awe, freedom, inspiration. He wasn’t at that time a religious person; indeed, he didn’t care much at all for church or the like. But the idea of flying in space! That was his idea of religion!
He watched the historic landing and walk enraptured in front of the royal television with the other royal family members. He was so moved by the experience that when Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins were invited to visit Buckingham Palace, Phillip made sure to have an intimate meeting with them. He was humbled by the greatness he bestowed upon them and their accomplishment. He could barely speak when he asked, “What was it like to be up there?” He waited with great expectation for them to describe a bliss-like experience of natural and scientific wonder!
What he got instead were three tired astronauts with colds who shared that, really, there’s not much time to look out the window, with all the checking of boxes and switches that need to be just so. They were, however, in absolute awe of the palace and mystique of being a Royal, and all the glamour that must encompass! They had many questions for Phillip, and delighted in flitting about the castle looking at its ornate furnishings.
Phillip was struck by the disappointment of it all. He put so much expectation into that experience of outer freedom (and we’re talking way outer!) only to be disillusioned. To top that off, his mundane, confined experience of being a Royal was the subject of awe of those on the outside.
At that point, Phillip had an epiphany. He realized that the only true subject worthy of awe and wonder was the mystique of the Divine, and that was worthy of pursuit and exploration. He joined with a clergyman and helped create a retreat center where religious leaders could come and rest, reflect, and renew. Before his recent death, Phillip was heard to say that the retreat center was his accomplishment that he was most proud of.
How many times have any of us put all of our awe and wonder eggs into one basket, only to have the “wah wah” experience of disappointment? Or, perhaps for a short time, our expectations lived up to themselves, but then it was over and back to “real life”?
This is our human experience when we are endeavoring to seek inner fulfillment in outer circumstances. Material possessions, relationships, accomplishments are all wonderful parts of human existence, but a small part of why we are here. Any experience outside of our inner Self won’t ever satisfy the deep hunger in our souls—a hunger that has been there since our souls were first created. Some call it “the hole that only God can fill”, or “the Pearl of great price”. Whatever you want to call it, it is the invitation to explore the vast depths of our internal existence. Intuition can be strengthened, wisdom can be accessed, True Love abounds and begins to become part of who we are.
Think about your inner freedom this month. The freedom of our country is worthy of reflection. Walking on the moon is also worthy. But, the only lasting freedom is the one we seek inside through meditation, reading mystics’ teachings, finding your True Self. You are eternal. That experience is your freedom. And, of course, the Fourth is always within you.