Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I think it started with the shoes...

"People who seek peace in external things -- be it in places or ways of life or people or activities or solitude or poverty or degradation -- however great such a thing may be or whatever it may be, still it is all nothing and it gives no peace...People ought never to think too much about what they could do, but they ought to think about what they could be: if you are just, then your works, too, are just."
-- Meister Eckhart

On Sunday night I was fortunate enough to attend a contemplative worship service. There's a sizeable community of folks on this island (I am reminded again of how lucky I am to live here) who have studied under Cynthia Bourgeault and Lynn Bauman and Richard Rohr, and around once a month a group of us gather for contemplative worship --i.e., a service that includes time for quiet meditation.

In honor of the new year, a piece of this Sunday's service was devoted to letting go: we were given small pieces of paper and pencils, invited to write down whatever we wanted to release, and then there was a period during which we could rise, walk over to the fireplace, and toss in our papers.

I wrote down four things, behaviors that -- to me -- indicate that I'm not nearly as God-filled or enlightened as I would like to be. I wanted to release some of the ways I treat others that don't really seem to flow out of anything other than ego. So I was particularly struck by this passage I read in Meister Eckhart this morning: it's so clear that the signs of faith are not in what we do -- however spiritual that might appear -- but in what fills us; in who -- and how -- we love.

So then I went to put up this morning's passage from the Gospel of Thomas. It's Logion 67, and it goes like this:

Yeshua says: If you come to know all, and yet you yourself are lacking, you have missed everything.

This was a little weird, coming on top of the Eckhart passage. Somehow I felt like all this stuff was connected -- particularly so since the last dream I had before waking this morning was that I was on my way to a doctor's appointment, wearing a shiny new pair of shoes. For some reason I had to remove the shoes when entering the building, and then I set them down to greet some old friends. When I bent to pick up the shoes, they weren't there, and I found myself holding a mismatched pair of children's shoes. I kept tracing and re-tracing my steps, looking for my shoes, and completely missed the doctor's appointment.

There are lots of ways I could interpret this dream, but the first and most obvious was that my obsession with my own stuff was keeping me from healing. In the end, after mulling over the dream, the Logion, and the Eckhart piece, I drafted a completely new meditation for the Logion, drawing a parallel between the knowledge we collect and the stuff we buy or wear as just one more manifestation of ego. The new meditation reads like this:

I see that you have clothed yourself
in all manner of righteousness:
that you read all the right books,
and say all the right things;
that you know exactly
what appearances to cultivate
to look as if you belong in my court.

This knowledge you have is useless
if you yourself are empty
of compassion,
of gratitude,
of tenderness and forgiveness.

I’m not interested in seeing what you know.
I’m interested in seeing how you love.


I love how it all flows together; love also that there's still so much for me to learn. But I'm still struggling a bit with finding compassion for myself, for all the ways I don't yet live into my beliefs and knowledge. It's okay. It will come, in its own good time..

4 comments:

Maureen said...

I really like those last two lines of your poem. They need no elaboration. Enormously quotable, too.

KimQuiltz said...

I am ESPECIALLY fond of this meditation. Perfect.

M.L. Gallagher said...

Thank you Diane.

We returned home tonight from driving back from Vancouver to a living room, rearranged and filled with young men chatting. Charles, my partner's 21 year old son is currently living with us. He has a band and they were having a band meeting.

Now, there is a room downstairs, a large room, that is his to use at will.

I found myself caught up in my inner talk. that voice of irritation that natters away at me, telling me all the reasons why 'this' is wwrong. Why I deserve my peace and tranquility in my home -- and I do -- but how I manifest it is where I go into ego rant and become fixated on all that is wrong and negative about having his son here. In my angst, I struggle with having his son here -- and in my struggle make it uncomfortable for all of us to live in harmony.

not pretty. Not my best moment.

Your post and meditation have calmed my ruffled soul.

Thank you.

Louise

SUNRISE SISTER said...

Your meditation is extraordinarily thoughtful and beautiful!