Monday, December 20, 2010

Sometimes I'm singing in a minor key...

Yesterday's post, about knowing we are loved, was actually written in response to the last thing I read before heading off to church yesterday.

It was the opening quote for the chapter entitled "No Enlightened Retirement" in  After the Ecstasy, the Laundry.  The quotation is attributed to Julian of Norwich, and it goes like this:

"If there be anywhere on earth a lover of God who is always kept safe, I know nothing of it, for it was not shown to me.  But this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always kept in that same precious love."

The chapter, which is about the inevitable struggles of returning to daily life after any kind of spiritual high, has really been resonating with me; I find myself wanting to underline phrases on every page.  And when I read this section, a few pages into the chapter, I began to see why:

"When the Christian mystic Julian of Norwich says she knows of no lover of God who is kept safe from falling, she is voicing the understanding that to descend is also God's will.  Whether we understand this or not... the fall, the descent, and its subsequent humility can be seen as another form of blessing.

Whatever success we have is usually one-sided.  Then our less developed aspects, our shadows, come into the light.  These are more raw, less controlled aspects of ourselves.  There are certain truths we can learn only by descent, truths that bring wholeness and humility in surrender.  In times of our heart's greatest vulnerability, we come close to the selfless mystery of life.  We all need periods of fecund time, fallow time, of being drawn closer to the humus of the earth.  It is as though something in us slows down, calls us back.  And out of that time a deepened knowledge and beauty can emerge."

So, ruminating on this passage, and thinking about the contrast I've been encountering lately between who I long to be and how I've been behaving, I sat down and prepared to meditate.  And I sat for way longer than I normally do (our early riser is sleeping elsewhere today) and found a section of myself that is walled off with cement blocks, no entrance or exit, though I can see into it from above.  Inside that small circular space there lies, curled upon itself, a large bird, wounded and starving; almost skeletal -- which could explain something of my attitude toward food lately (always hungry, but it doesn't seem to feed me).

What's even more odd about this bird is that it appears to be a stork.  So it's somehow connected with what Kornfield calls "fecund time," and with Advent, with what needs to be birthed into the world, my role in that, or my perceived role...

And here's what I believe: something in EACH of us was born to fly -- something in you, something in me, something in the homeless man who sleeps in the parking lot, something in the crooked business executive who grants himself and his cronies huge bonuses after losing money for all the customers he serves... And for so many of us that something lies in various stages of woundedness and starvation, walled off and lost.

Christmas is about the promise that Someone Cares; that for each of us there is a Star watching over us, there are Wise Ones traveling infinite distances to bring us gifts and honor us, and there are Angels hovering, singing that which lies within us into life.  So I hope you have a chance to stop, to slow down and sit for a few minutes, sometime during this busy holiday season; to feel the lowly stable within you -- the waiting manger, the anxious parents and the straw beneath their feet, the warmth of the star and the animals around you, the genuine respect and affection of the Wise Ones -- and to hear the angels singing what needs to be born in you into wholeness.

And now for some reason I'm hearing the words to that old spiritual, There is a Balm in Gilead:

Some times I feel discouraged,
And think my work’s in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit
Revives my hope again.

There is a balm in Gilead, To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead, To heal the sin-sick soul.

If you cannot sing like angels,
If you can’t preach like Paul,
You can tell the love of Jesus,
And say He died for all.

There is a balm in Gilead, To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead, To heal the sin-sick soul.


Joyceann Wycoff said...

When that wounded bird rises and flies again, and it will, beauty and joy will radiate with every flap of its wings.

Breathe and be fed by the love that flows to you from all sources ... just as we breathe and are fed by the love that flows out from your writings and images.

M.L. Gallagher said...

When we hve the courage to look at the bits of ourselves that are starving, we heal what lies within.

As Joyceann said -- that wounded bird is rising.

thank you for being such an inspiration to me. thank you for your words that resonate so deeply within.