“Reason is all fine and good
until it shows you the door of the Beloved
At that point divorce reason,
which will steal from you like a bandit”
Why is it that the goal of most spiritual paths involves finding what we already possess? It seems that it is our persistent effort that keeps us from that we most seek. If Divine love is freely given and always available, it would seem to follow that we not strive to earn it, but rather we learn to accept it.
It is difficult to follow a Rule of Life. Often I reread my rule and remind myself what it is I am supposed to doing. I never seem complete in my observance. But I try. Everyday I start over. Everyday. As if one day I will find the easy rhythm I am looking for and fall into some ancient pattern, a path I cannot stumble out of. It never happens, but each day I recommit…somedays with more energy and faith than other days. But nonetheless, I stay. I do not believe that my chosen path is the only the only path. Lately I have come to believe that there is no path at all, that the journey begins and ends not with a step but with a breathe.
I cannot believe that our effort will ensure our finding what we seek any more than I believe that God loves us only as much as we have earned. The difficulty lies not in the practice, but in the mind. We create the ordeal to earn the reward. My practice has become my distraction, my addiction, my justification, my trophy. Each day I shed my expectation and ego and pray that I can be open to what simply is already within my reach.
This last month has been one of many beginnings and endings. I am used to change, just as I am accustomed to the rain in Portland. When I was a child, my family moved often. I learned early on to keep my connections to places and things, and sadly, people, to an intensity level tolerable for the inevitable reality that none of them would be permanent. Years later I understood what I had taught myself to do and I changed. I decided to live with the pain of loss, however great, and began to attach myself more deeply to places and people. Some might say I have swung too far, that I engage too deeply; I can only say that it is where I am most comfortable now.
So as this month brings much change, confusion, and loss of some hopes, like spring, it also ushers in fresh hope, new ways of being and connecting. A friend of my once said that he could only effect the “quality of the waiting” in his life. Waiting being that time in the middle I suppose, when we are unsure of the outcome of any of our actions. Outside of ourselves, there is nothing we can control. But we can love, genuinely and openly, as a response to the world and as a response to all that we cannot change.
I am the thin space
I am what is between
not a door, or an open window
but a dream
I am in the way
of my own Path
Let go of Identity
it is a mirage,
an empty promise,
cannot be sought
for It is not lost
I have been in a definite funk lately. The dirty laundry alone is evidence enough. And yet it wasn’t until I found myself in a strange predicament of my own making (which I won’t detail for lack of time and space) that I realized just what a state I am in. Sometimes I feel I am outside of myself, watching an unsteady child. I want to stop myself before I fall, but know that the hard landing will provide the impetus for change. I am in the midst of that fall…deciding just how I might land. Gently, I hope.
I have slowly come to realize that I have created the God I believe in. I suppose to some degree we all do. All that is lacking in my life is found in my God. I have essentially projected my desires into my spiritual beliefs. I think of the God of the Old Testament, testing and judging His people; This is not the God I would ever imagine or believe in. My God is Love only; Love without explanation or words. Big Love. I think we imagine our God to be what we need Him/Her/It to be. And my God is no exception.
I spoke with a friend the other day about love. He said that he believed there was a love out there for him that would be all consuming, a love worthy of all the pain and struggle. I don’t know when I stopped believing in this kind of love. I guess I really didn’t stop believing in it, but I believed it only possible with God. God is The Beloved, my Beloved. Which leaves me wondering why I feel so lonely sometimes. I never feel alone, but I do feel lonely. Clearly I have no answers, just gaping holes in my theories. I wonder greatly about the Gods of others. What people believe about God, who or what is God to them? Why did they come to believe in the God they do, and do they ever question their imaginings of God? Questions I will be asking many…
A very old man went out one day on the land beside his house, and began planting fruit trees.
A young man walked by. “What are you doing?” the young man asked.
“Planting fruit trees,” the old man replied.
“But you will not see fruit in your lifetime,” the youth said.
“The fruit that I have enjoyed in my lifetime,” the old man answered,”has been from trees that people before me planted. So to express my gratitude of them, I am planting trees to give fruit to those who come after me.”
Medieval Irish Tale
There are moments when I am struck with the realization that I am very often the beneficiary of the fruits of someone else’s labors. This most often happens for me when I enter a particularly beautiful building. I’ll take note of the architecture and wonder how long the building took to construct, and who was responsible for the detail…whether it be the leaded windows, or the curve of the plaster wall, or the carving on a fireplace mantle. I have been blessed to live in many beautiful homes, and often I thought about those who lived in them before me. Right now, I live in a wonderful home in NE Portland previously owned by a landscape architect. My yard is spectacular and each day I marvel at the beauty I am so lucky to have surround me; ever aware that someone before me planted each tree, and herb, flower bulb, and vine. I am grateful for the couple who owned this home before me, a home which is now my sanctuary. I wonder what I have left behind that others find joy from. I have planted my share of gardens and tried to create some beauty along the way, but what more? Sometimes the labors of our lives seem simple and even unremarkable. Yet I have been profoundly touched by fleeting and seemingly small encounters. We may never know the impact of our actions, how a gentle word soothed a wounded heart, or a warm meal offered hope. It is not ours to understand; instead, I offer, we give thanks for those who touch and bring gifts to our lives without evening knowing it.
In me is that unmade You
to a new morning
where the meaning of my life
is decided in the space
between my breathe and Yours
in that moment
where I am present to
only what is Within
I call out
to every piece of me
scattered and forgotten
carried by the wind
and swept into
of this Earth
I am making a place for you
to be whole again
September 8, 2008
“Trouble is the common denominator of living. It is the great equalizer.” Soren Kierkegaard
Sometimes it is not
The other night I stopped by Rahab’s Sisters
and spoke briefly with one of the women I have come to know and love. “J” has been on the streets longer than I would have believed possible to survive. She is in her 50’s, but her body betrays that, and she easily looks ten years older. She is also not well, having been in and out of the hospital too many times to count. I am always stunned and angered when I learn she has been released from medical care. Just once, I wish the hospital would keep her for a stay long enough to recover. This past week when I saw her, she told me her SSI was finally coming in, and she would be able to get into some housing. Her blue eyes were clear and steady as she told me with great relief of her good news. She expressed that she wasn’t going to last much longer if she stayed outside, and I know this is true. I held her tiny frame in my arms, and willed her tired, broken body to hold on a bit longer.
“I have been feeling very lost lately. My only solace is that I have been lost before, and when I found myself again, I was in a better place. Only this time, I have lost my ability to imagine….I pray that God imagines for me. I hold nothing to be true or permanent save Divine Love. I dreamt of it once, truly. Many years ago I dreamt of God as my Beloved and woke with this incredible feeling of Love that I cannot describe. I can only say it was so immense, that I believed it would fill me forever. I Knew God’s Love, was paralyzed by It and at the same moment, moved by It out of my own limits into a Greater Truth. I do not know why I was blessed at this moment, I had done nothing to deserve It. But that is how it is with God’s Love. It is a Gift, a Beautiful Gift…a Gift that is always there for us, and in that Divine moment God allowed me to receive it. Today, I give up everything, and pray that I can be opened to receive again.”
I wrote the above a year or so ago. The event happened several years before. On occassion I reread this passage from my journal, to recall my experience. I draw upon that moment, knowing that if it were possible once, it is possible always and at all. Sometimes I can find myself in a place of such sorrow that I close off the possibility of hope. And then this beautiful memory,though faded and thin, whispers to me, “there is so much more.”