“…As for me I have but one desire, the desire for solitude, to be lost in the secret of God’s face.”— Thomas Merton
Life was happening all around her. She was walking in circles and didn’t even know it. Playing in the realm of “what if”. What if she accepted herself! What if she did! Eventually it was easier to not accept a thing. Life became a series of unhappiness and happiness, depending on what was happening in that season of her life. She just existed. The world seemed dark, but it wasn’t the world, there was no light within her soul. She was a wanderer, a dreamer of what could be. There was no other purpose but survival.
But somewhere deep within her Being, something was slowly awakening. It was like the first drop of rain that falls on the parched desert floor.
From the heavens above a rope fell to earth. Hesitantly she reached out and touched the rope. Energy coursed through her being, deep within her soul something began to awaken.
She tugged harder on the rope and lifted herself one inch above the life she had known. Again, feeling a surge of energy, she climbed a bit higher. She got to a landing and stepped off the rope. The space was amazing. The new insights were like honey. So much to learn and experience in the presence of grace. With a nourished soul, more was to be discovered.
The pattern was followed for a while, climbing, and jumping off at the different landings to play in this newfound grace she received. Always moving up never on the level too long.
The growth was rapid and exhilarating, and eventually she didn’t stop on the levels, growth became more important. Always moving up hoping to find the Face of God.
One day she felt tired of the constant climbing. Holding on the rope for dear life, a voice was heard, “Why don’t you just let go and see what happens.” Looking around her all she saw was darkness and imagined falling into a deep dark hole.
Should she let go? Was it right? What should she do? She was too scared to let go and lose the Love she had found? But desperate for a rest she was about to let go!
Out of the quiet, came the voice of wisdom, “Step off the rope, the landing is right there. See what magic is available to you. Growth is not about climbing; it’s about being and being present to the love that is calling your soul.”
In previous blog posts I have mentioned a book that has captured my imagination to the possibility of what loving the Source of Infinite Love/Jesus could actually be. While reading this chapter again and again my imaginary story became a representation of what I was feeling.
“In our daily lives, most of us tend to follow the many forms of “thought” that move like ghosts across our mental screens: the words…feelings…images…and sensations that often don’t even register, yet quite automatically determine our pleasurable, fearful, or aggressive reactions. We realize that this is how our minds work! On the other hand, a spiritual path teaches us how to develop the softest, least aggressive quality of attention and turn it gently away from the self-centered focus of “my” thoughts, “my” feelings, “my” sensations and memories --- and towards an orientation that is not about “me” at all.
The intent of this turning is to bring us into a different quality of relatedness, one that results from giving our attention not to these objects of consciousness, but to some ”thing” else that is not an object.
We give the fullness of our attention --- “all our heart, and all our soul, and all our mind, and all our strength” --- to the Field that holds what usually occupies us. Stepping back, we let go of the thoughts, feelings, images, sensations, memories, opinions, and desires that have helped to create a separate identity --- and drop into the embrace of a more profound perspective. This perspective is at the heart of every spiritual and religious tradition. It consists of a relationship with a different kind of referent: an unnamable Mystery, a Depth of Being that includes our ordinary way of thinking and transcends it.
To put it another way, we experience the difference between having a relationship to thoughts about love…or to feelings of love…or sensations we associate with love---and come into a quality of deep relatedness with Love Itself.
Gradually, we learn to give our attention to this energetic Field instead of to its contents. I call it “dropping in.” We drop in to the depths of ourselves. The silence can feel like going into a veritable abyss. We don’t avoid our fear of this unknown. We feel it, settle into the darkness of this abyss repeatedly, and stay.”
I have been considering my journey thus far. What I have been learning and experiencing is very precious to me, it has been my lifeline. My life has moved from a place of struggle with religion, with Jesus, and with spirituality to an incredible, alive, and very real sense that I am loved.
However, I got to the end of 2021 exhausted. The presence of Love was not my constant companion and I found myself ever slowly inching toward my old way of thinking and insecurities. I was so frustrated. Was all the work the last three years in vain, only to go back into the survival mechanism of my life? Everything I did, didn’t work to bring that feeling of presence back. I faithfully followed my routine, which has been my lifeline for the past few years. Nothing worked!
A few things happened this March that brought me back to my integrity. The most important thing I learned was to be honest with what I felt. I just needed to stop, step back and embrace what is, in honesty and integrity. As I embrace my weakness and my strengths and ask for help, could I even think of transcending my “normal” way of thinking? Fortunately, I had the help!
“It takes strength to admit you are weak, bravery to show you are vulnerable, and courage to ask for help.” – Richard Rohr
This amazing and extraordinary journey cannot be about me, for me. There must be a greater purpose! What is the use of sharing my story if there isn’t a greater purpose?
There has to be more that is going on outside of me. I think that every time I show up to serve my neighbor with compassion, love and kindness, the energies of Love are at work. But honestly, I don’t know. I don’t know what goes on outside of me, but I “must” do the best I can to wake up to myself and to Infinite Love within me and around me. That is my call! I don’t know what ramifications happen when I take responsibility for my life. I just don’t know but I know that this moment is my moment, and I must take up my space in this vast universe. The more I move into a greater consciousness, the more I realize how inter-connected everything is.
“You must stop seeing God as separate from you, and you as separate from each other. The only solution is the Ultimate Truth: nothing exists in the universe that is separate from anything else. Everything is intrinsically connected, irrevocably interdependent, interactive, interwoven into the fabric of all of life… This is the only hope for your planet.” – Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God.
I do believe that without tasting and seeing that the Lord is good, there is no way on earth I would be able to love. I needed that deep touch of Infinite Love, I needed to know:
I am Loved
I am Love
Without this step, there is no way I could honestly love you!
In this crazy world, as each of us steps out of our self-limiting belief structures and wrestles with who God is, only then can we love well. As we climb off the rope of effort and stand on the ground of grace and love, can we even hope to be awake in the darkness of our world.
“Every man is two men; one is awake in the darkness, the other asleep in the light.” --Khalil Gibran
 Turning to Thomas Merton with James Finley - https://cac.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/TTTM_Transcript_TM0.pdf https://cac.org/podcasts/turning-to-thomas-merton/
 Awakening the Energies of Love – Discovering Fire for the Second Time by Anne Hillman quoted from the second addition, page 263-264