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(Dedicated to W. Terry Beck and Hugh McGee – two amazing healers who have touched my heart and soul, filling me with God)
I walk among wounded landscapes of
restless messiahs, bandits & wayward healers of the soul.
Traversing a topography so filled with God even
the emptiness brims over.
The eyes of these beautiful ones – these
habits stitched together with skin
and grace – are piercing; so
sharp the colors cut clean and bleed into one.
Who am I to be given such a gift?
I walk as one knowing little, mostly gratitude,
learned from the healing motion of darkness,
mercy and soulful friends. These friends are
luminescent, fleshly ghost radiating gentleness,
scars, and a softness that absorbs all without judgment.
They walk the Earth prodding small, familiar scars: the
wounds of loving that embrace the hearts of those who feel
deeply. These people have taught me the motion that
Love takes, like water: first the swell, then an
arching crest, and finally the peak of a cascading crash.
Their love is like one, slight awesome sign of fluid power.
These saints teach me the Way…always telling me: relax. breathe.
and surrender to this holy wave and to learn this tender truth:
curiosity is far better than control.
Humility is the best way to find out about reality and curiosity makes us eager to learn something new about things we thought we had all but figured out.
Caring is not for the weak or faint of heart for it is an act of courage and strength. It is only for the strong and gentle. St. Francis de Sales once said, “There is nothing so gentle as true strength and nothing so strong as true gentleness.”
Forgiveness is never easy and mercy is never wasted; neither is love.
Oriah Mountain Dreamer said when she was a child that she wanted to “live her life so as to reflect the God [she] knew.” I too will live my life reflecting the God I know.
Let God’s love live in your heart, your soul; let it flower when you think the desert will wither it.
Seek Embodiment: Embody God. Embody love. Embodiment is compassion, the fleshing out of God’s wild love; flesh out this Love in your life, your actions, your very being. To live is simply to unfold. Unfolding is simply our journey deeper into God. Unfolding is living with integrity; integrity is the union of body, mind, and spirit around the purpose of one’s soul. Embodiment and unfolding are the fleshing out of God’s truths in our unique personalities; the fleshing out of this divine truth in the world.
Knowing others means you are wise; knowing yourself means you are enlightened.
Never fear and never inflict fear.
Practice compassion, trust and curiosity.
Remember God is timeless; time is a human construct that separates reality into compartments (into “here” and “there” and the space in-between). But God is time-less and cannot be compartmentalized. Remember though that God can and does “enter” time in order to be with us. This is the paradox of the Infinite within the finite: this is God breaking into the human realm to love us and be with us.
Remember that the past is a stored memory and the future is a projected fantasy. Now is the only real moment; there is only the present (now) in the Presence.
Remember that you are a dynamic example of God’s love taking place right here, right now.
I dreamed of walking through emerald forest,
hanging all the worries and weights of my body
and soul upon thick, uneven branches.
I could feel the wind blow the
dust out from within this
I heard the whimpering cries
of forgotten grief come
to have its say.
This grief felt so laden, so familiar – all the
years of desires and the scars of letting go…
they all came out of this unsayable said.
The trees dared me to let this grief
hollow out my bones with mercy, to paint
the walls of my heart the colors of the rainbow.
I have failed this challenge before,
these pregnant opportunities to be
held by an urgent compassion.
Too often I have walked away from such
moments – full of myself and empty
of my truth.
But today, today I dreamed of walking through
emerald forest, my fingers tracing poems in the
worn flesh of their bark…
I read a line in a John Updike poem years ago that has become an epiphany for me today about the journey into healing. The line was simple and succinct: “healing is an act of darkness.” That line illuminated the darker recesses of my heart because I am at a point in my life where I feel like I’m in a rut, stuck in a darkened room and left to my own devices to find my way. But I know I am not alone.
Healing is an act of darkness but it is also an an act that occurs in darkness. Healing can be likened to groping in the shadows for the light switch.
The journey of healing resembles the journey towards one’s calling as well for they both need darkness to gestate and be birthed into being by God’s tender mercies. Sometimes we stumble into our healing as much as we do our callings – like stubbing our toes in the darkness of God’s mysteries.
But healing is also an act of Beauty…
The Navajo people of the Southwest have a word for “healing” which means “a return to beauty.” How wonderful! Rather than see healing as something done to us or as only the process of curing and fixing, healing becomes a sort of homecoming. Healing becomes a returning, if you will, to the Original Beauty: God. Healing as a returning to beauty is the journey of embracing the wisdom that become our healing and wholeness: we must rediscover, cherish, and honor the beauty of God, of ourselves, of each other and the world around us.
I have learned in my own healing journey that to pause and absorb all the beauty (and darkness) that surrounds me leads me deeper into God, deeper into oneness and connection. For beauty reminds us of what is whole and God, not what is fractured and broken. Beauty is one of the essential truths of God; it is in truth one of the foundations of God. As it has been written before, the very desire for beauty is the desire for God.
Day by day I am learning what healing is and is not; healing is not perfection but progress and gratitude and humility. Healing is deepening my life in God. And the older I get, the more the Navajo wisdom of healing affirms the notions I have about our spiritual journeys: namely that this journey is not about finding something or someone, but rather it is about unfolding – unfolding into God and into the people God is calling us to be.
We are like the roses of God. Roses already are the beauty of their luscious blooms even when they are seedlings or when they are empty, thorny stems in winter. And so it is for us, for we are the beauty of God as much in our darkness, emptiness, and pain as we are in our wholeness, peace and joy.
Maybe this is only my small “t” truth; maybe I just need to believe…to know that every struggle, every painful moment, every joyful blink, every wondrous second I am alive and engaged in is meaningful and sacred. Maybe I just need to know that all moments are the moment when God and I are one, and intimacy is no longer about space or location but about truth, love and wonder.
I have evidence of the healing journey as an act of darkness, beauty and unfolding. I see so many people around me unfolding before my eyes, unfolding into the wondrous children of God – that alone fills me with faith, gratitude and amazement. I see the paradox of healing in my life: what feels like the fabric of my life unraveling is also the bloom of it unfolding by God’s grace.
I fumble in this holy darkness, groping for the Spirit as much as for some semblance of the familiar. But still, I hold to the hope that, thanks be to God, all is not lost: pain and confusion will not last forever and brokenness will not have the last word.
Yes, I still hold to the hope that Divine Love will indeed prevail and embrace all.
The best prayer is to rest in the goodness of God, knowing that [his] goodness can reach down to our lowest depths of need.
Source: Revelations of Divine Love
When we have prayed prayers long enough, all the words drop away and we begin to live in the presence of God. Then prayer is finally real. When we find ourselves sinking into the world around us with a sense of purpose, an inner light and deep and total trust that whatever happens is right for us, then we have become prayer.
When we kneel down, we admit the magnitude of God in the universe and our own smallness in the face of it. When we stand with hands raised, we recognize the presence of God in life and our own inner glory because of it. All life is in the hands of God.
Even the desire to pray is the grace to pray. The movement to pray is the movement of God in our souls.
Our ability to pray depends on the power and place of God in our life. We pray because God attracts us and we pray only because God is attracting us. We are not, in other words, even the author of our own prayer life. It is the goodness of God, not any virtue that we have developed on our own, that brings us to the heart of God. And it is with God’s help that we seek to go there.
Source: The Monastic Way: In My Own Words
It is not physical solitude that actually separates one from others, not physical isolation, but spiritual isolation. It is not the desert island nor the stony wilderness that cuts you off from the people you love.
It is the wilderness in the mind, the desert wastes in the heart through which one wanders lost and a stranger. When one is a stranger to oneself, then one is estranged from others, too.
Source: Gift From the Sea
In the desert the most urgent thing is – to wait. The desert does not take kindly to those who tackle it at breakneck speed, subjecting it to their plans and deadlines.
Instead, the desert welcomes those who shed their sandals of speed and walk slowly in their bare feet, letting them be caressed and burnt by the sand.
If you have no ambition to conquer the desert, if you do not think you are in charge, if you can calmly wait for things to be done, then the desert will not consider you an intruder and will reveal its secrets to you.
Source: Meditations on the Sand