I'll meet you out beyond
Updated: Jul 20, 2021
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.” Rumi
When I had read Rumi the first time, I had no idea that such a field even exists. Everything was defined in terms of right or wrong. My binary mind could not understand that I may not be able to define this field but had to discover it.
For the last four years, the questions haunted me: “What is this field? Where is this field? How do I lie down in that grass?”
I actually think these questions very much framed my life for the last fifty years. I realise today that I have craved to lie down in that field more than anything else ... to discover the meaning of life; to live a life that meant something and to do that without the hard work required by comparison and competition.
Slowly I started to realise that such a space existed but I never found it. For a performer, a legalist and a fundamentalist; in fact for everyone who ascribe to being human, it requires a journey to lie down in the grass of grace and go beyond the requirements of society and religion.
I have suffered three burnouts in my sixty seven years. Three times I burnt out my soul trying to live the "meaningful life" and for months I became just a shell that still performed but lost the joy of living. I thought I could create meaning by the way I lived, by the way I worshipped and prayed and served. I gave everything I had to discover that meaning and perished in the process.
Burnout is just that - there is no fire left and you can not achieve, or create, or manage, or write, or be a good parent, husband, friend, manager, pastor, doctor. You can just survive from sun up to sun down and then sink into a chemical sleep until you wake up to survive again.
Burnout is the equivalent for the performer of the rock bottom that an alcoholic must reach before he can start recovery. That is why I call myself a "Recovering Performer", for once you had reached rock bottom, you know that somewhere in your genes you carry the potential to get there again and that you will always have to be on your guard. For you know that success and applause will always be the fix your system craves and if you get enough of that, you will get on the treadmill again and the end of that is predictable. And even though I knew that, it happened three times!
If you can relate to that scenario, here is the Gospel from another reformer:
"The Lord is my shepherd,
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul." King David
In the last four years,I have found the field! The Shepherd of my soul "made me" to lie down in the green pastures. Through the pain of burnout I was "led in paths of righteousness" and in the depths of the "valley of the shadow of death", I have discovered that I am not alone. I have discovered who I really am. I have stumbled on a table laden with a feast right there in the darkness of having nothing, being meaningless, forsaken from all ... God included.
I have stumbled on a new identity and I am settling down in it - in the green pastures next to the still waters ... in the field "beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing". I am contemplatively looking at the clouds, smelling the grass, hearing the stream. I know I am one with it all and I am relishing the moment.
I realise every day that I have always been here, I was just asleep. I have slowly woken up to the truth. And there are now days when I realise that I have lost the urgency to talk, to write, to impress, to do, to intercede, to save, to ascend to God ... days when the applause means so much less.
Days when I can just be who I was meant to be ... Love incarnated.
I will meet you there ....