When we were children, most of us were good friends with mystery. The world was full of it and we loved it. Then as we grew older, we slowly accepted the indoctrination that mystery exists only to be solved. For many of us, mystery became an adversary; unknowing became a weakness. The contemplative spiritual life is an ongoing reversal of this adjustment. It is a slow and sometimes painful process of becoming “as little children” again, in which we first make friends with mystery and finally fall in love again with it. And in that love we find an ever increasing freedom to be who we really are in an identity that is continually emerging and never defined. We are freed to join the dance of life in fullness without having a clue about what the steps are. Continue reading “Advent Day 16: Second Sight …”
When you’re like a keg of dynamite just about to go off, patience means just slowing down at that point—just pausing—instead of immediately acting on your usual, habitual response. You refrain from acting, you stop talking to yourself, and then you connect with the soft spot. But at the same time you are completely and totally honest with yourself about what you are feeling. You’re not suppressing anything; patience has nothing to do with suppression. In fact, it has everything to do with a gentle, honest relationship with yourself. If you wait and don’t fuel the rage with your thoughts, you can be very honest about the fact that you long for revenge; nevertheless you keep interrupting the torturous story line and stay with the underlying vulnerability. That frustration, that uneasiness and vulnerability, is nothing solid. And yet it is painful to experience. Still, just wait and be patient with your anguish and with the discomfort of it. This means relaxing with that restless, hot energy—knowing that it’s the only way to find peace for ourselves or the world. Continue reading “Advent Day 05: Practicing Peace In Times of War …”
Awake, my dear.
Be kind to your sleeping heart.
Take it out in the vast field of Light
And let it breathe.
— Hafiz from I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy
Our personal demons come in many guises. We experience them as shame, as jealousy, as abandonment, as rage. They are anything that makes us so uncomfortable that we continually run away.
We do the big escape … we shove the feelings under and somehow deaden the pain. We can spend our whole lives escaping from the monsters of our minds.
All over the world, people are so caught in running that they forget to take advantage of the beauty around them. We become so accustomed to speeding ahead that we rob ourselves of joy. Continue reading “Illuminating The Darkness Of Difficult Times …”
As long as we see what has come to pass as being unfair, we’ll be a prisoner of what might have been.
This is a very painful issue to discuss for most of us, because so much of how we see the world hinges on a sense of fairness and justice, those truly noble human concepts that govern how we treat each other.
But the laws of experience in the natural world, in which we have no choice but to live, do not work this way. Rather, the larger Universe, of which humankind is a small part, is a world of endless possibility and endless cycle, a world in which life forms come and go, a world itself that has erupted and reformed countless times. Continue reading “The Issue Of Fairness …”
May you be blessed in the holy names of those
Who, without you knowing it,
Help to carry and lighten your pain.
May memory bless and protect you
With the hard-earned light of past travail;
To remind you that you have survived before
And though the darkness now is deep,
You will soon see approaching light. Continue reading “Blessing for Paris …”
We want life to be as dazzling and painless as possible. Life, on the other hand, has a way of humbling us, and heartbreak is built into its agreement with the world. We’re young, until we’re not. We’re healthy, until we’re not. We’re with those we love, until we’re not. Life’s beauty is inseparable from its fragility. One of the greatest human triumphs is to choose to make room in our hearts for both the joy and the pain, and to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. This means seeing feelings not as being “good” or “bad” but as just “being.” Yes, there is this relentless assumption in our culture that we need to do something when we have inner turmoil. We must struggle with it, fix it, control it, exert brute-force willpower over it, remain positive. What we really need to do, though, is also what is most simple and obvious: nothing. That is, to just welcome these inner experiences, breathe into them, and learn their contours without racing for the exits. Continue reading “Courage Is Fear Walking …”
Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go …
― John O’Donohue from Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
Learning How To Float
When first learning how to swim, I didn’t trust the deep. No matter how many assuring voices I heard from shore, I strained and flapped to keep my chin above the surface. It exhausted me, and only when exhausted did I relax enough to immerse myself to the point that I could feel the cradle of the deep keep me afloat.
I’ve come to understand that this is the struggle we all replay between doubt and faith. When thrust into any situation over our head, our reflex is to fight with all our might the terrible feeling that we are sinking. Yet the more we resist, the more we feel our own weight and wear ourselves out. Continue reading “Choose The Deep Again & Again In Order To Live Fully …”