How do I unlock the space between?
I was looking for an answer to the question after the previous post on "The Space Between". There is no recipe for it is an awakening. It is consciousness awakening to Consciousness. And it is what the rest of your journey in this life will be about.
Thomas Merton described the space like this: “There is in all things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity, a silence that is a fount of action and joy. lt rises up in wordless gentleness and flows out to me from the unseen roots of all created being.”
We are privileged today to be able to post an extract from Anne Hillman's book, "The Dancing Animal Woman, A celebration of life" with her kind permission.
"He was probably two and a half. He had a shock of blond hair sticking straight out from under a baseball cap and wore an outlandish set of red rimmed sun glasses. He was walking barefoot across the small beach with his father, and as I caught his eye, I wiggled the fingers on my left hand in greeting. He ran towards me, talking nonstop, until he reached the weathered log where I sat a few feet from the ocean's edge. It was a monologue of introduction - not of himself, but of his immediate world: The waves.
"High ones. Crash on the rocks!" He clapped his hands, mimicking the waves, then gestured to the far end of the beach.
"The shells. See? Lots 'n lots." He danced a brief shell dance around the glistening deposits on the sand and shouted, "The sand's hot here!" then jumped to the damp tide line and admired the holes his feet made, "Wo-o-0-o! Co-o-0-ld! Look at the dog jumpin'! We can jump way up in the sky!"
He clenched his fists and cocked his elbows, then jumped and landed a few feet away. A piece of damp seaweed caught his eye and he bent to touch it. "Yuck!" He leapt back in disgust. I held the rubbery leaf while he examined it more closely. Then he handed me a stone. "Throw it in the water," he commanded. I did and was delighted to see I could throw just far enough that it splashed in the surf. His throw fell short of the water, so he handed
His name was Neil. We had known each other maybe five minutes when he reached up and grabbed my hand, calling me to go closer to the water with him. With a backward glance at his father and a joy I had forgotten, I accompanied him as far as he dared go: he stopped, dug his toes in the sand, afraid of the oncoming water. I tugged his hand and smiled, "C'mon, let's run up the beach!" and we pounded away from the shoreline together. Back
and forth we ran until his attention was caught by something else he wanted me to do. I can still feel his soft small hand in mine, sandy, warm, gripping me tightly. I saw myself as a stranger but he did not.
He knew he belonged.
I could feel his sense of belonging. It was as palpable as the stones he handed me to throw in the ocean. Like a spark, it rekindled that experience in me, the feeling of connectedness and trust, of really belonging to something larger. It was something subtle, like a promise lying just beneath my awareness; a promise of human community and more.
I remembered, too, how this sense of belonging always seems to arrive unexpectedly, often in moments of solitude.
One day in Oakland, I sat with a group of friends and asked them about their experiences of belonging. Although our stories were different, I felt a kinship with each person because of these deep kinds of common occurrences we had shared. Mary Ellen, a young teacher, was canoeing in the Quetico Provincial Park, Ontario and bent, one morning, to dip her tin cup in the clear water for a drink. Time seemed to stop and she thought, "This is all that matters," and, though the words didn't quite express it, "I am rain, water, canoe, cup."
Jim, another friend, told a similar story: He was swimming in the ocean and suddenly knew the salt water to be "like a poultice, a cleansing, drawing the chaos out of me."
These awarenesses tend to arrive in moments when we are deep inside our bodies: stopping at the top of a hill after a long bicycle ride, pulling hard through whitewater rapids, lying at a campsite under the stars. They come when we are moved by an experience in nature or by a story told by a friend. They often happen when our hearts are full. But they may not be full of happiness, as my story for the group that morning illustrates:
It was 1977. We had just buried my father. I went down to the beach on the Florida gulf at sunset to be still for a while. As I sat on the warm white sand, I scooped some up and let it sift through my fingers, looking at the pearly shells left in my palm, feeling my grief. After an indeterminable time, I sensed a movement out of the corner of my eye and looked up. There stood all around me at least twenty seagulls, facing toward me in a perfect circle. I could not believe what I was seeing, but I thought, "l am cared for...I am not alone. "
Reflections of the inner journey such as these, are present in all of us. At times, something at the core of our being is touched and there is a healing. Boundaries unexpectedly dissolve and we feel sustained in our true identity. We know we are part of something larger.
Neil didn't think about this something larger. He was it. He didn't introduce himself as I, Neil." He introduced the beach, the sky, the shells, the moment. He reached his hand up in trust because I was part of it too. I joined him as another child and knew the joy and the wonder of playing briefly outside time.
A mystic' once said "Life bubbles up out of the depths until it spills over." It spilled over in Neil. It spilled over in a tin cup, in an ocean swim and in a circle of birds. It spills over eternally.
Anne Hillman "The Dancing Animal Woman A celebration of life", Bramble Books 1994, p 217