There are those days, those times, those zones when no matter what you try, regardless where you turn, the answer eludes the grasp. Latitude and longitude fly out the window. A map is needed to restore faith in life. And this doesn't even begin to cover a mislaid sense of humor! This subject is near and dear to the heart of anyone who navigates that tricky place on the path referred to by St. John of the Cross as the "Dark Night of the Soul." While this may well be necessary "grist for the mill" of transformation, as Ram Dass put it long ago, it is not the sort of faire that makes for doing the "happy dance" at the time.
The subject is no stranger, either, to one of our most recent silent members at what has been dubbed, by HuffPost readers, "Cara's Café." Unbeknownst to the rest of us before last week, this "everyman" has come to the café table, is witnessing the universal search for the GPS to the soul. His path has moved us all (see archives, last week, "Reunion with Soul"). Hence, I address the following to him, to you, and to anyone you might know that searches for their soul map, a way back home to what matters most.
Please know this. I am no stranger to this search. Consequently, I will not waste your time, or insult your intelligence, with theory. The most fruitful answers have come to me through empirical experience: the journey itself, to that place within where wisdom dwells, and healing holds sway.
Ironically, our educational institutions neither mention the portal nor the process of realigning ourselves in the direction toward that which we not only seek but, indeed, toward that which seeks us. Perhaps the faculty remain mute on the subject, for it is an inside job. Life is the teacher; we are the student.
Our pop quizzes come in infinite forms: relationships, profound losses, disappointments in love, economic, career, health issues, geographical relocations, betrayals, broken dreams. But however they come, they take us to our knees. If you do not know what I am talking about, read no further. But if you, or anyone you know, have ever been humbled, your ego "taken to the woodshed" for a whipping while your well-polished and manicured identity lays fractured on the ground, read on, and feel free to forward.
It is to you that I write the following love letter, from blood-stained ink of the bumps and bruises acquired through my own process, and accompany those who come to relocate their own soul's GPS and move forward.
Love Letter to the One Who's Temporarily Lost His GPS
As my friend Martin Kerr has sung, "I know you are out there." I know that here, in your private room, in the middle of the night, when you cannot sleep, there are more questions than answers. I know, as well, that in the really tough times, it seems impossible to even name the question. This is a noisy world, my friend. How difficult, if not impossible, it is to find resolution to what befalls us, when we are bombarded by distraction. Not only outer nonsense, but it is the inner chaos, our agendas, thoughts, memories, projections, comparisons and resistance to what is changing that we cannot alter that makes it impossible to find the necessary space and safety make our way through the debris and enter the quiet.
What quiet, you might ask? I know, I know. This is the stillness waiting quietly for our return, when like the prince in Sleeping Beauty, our very soul urges us to cut through the thick brambles of our distractions to find the beauty that resides within, albeit nearly drugged asleep by the thorn of worldly seductions. But wait, it does for our return. To let distractions go, to stay with the discipline of this practice of the "listening heart" is more rigorous than an Olympic event, and it is no less heroic.
I know that you have tried many things to assuage your suffering. I know you have been a "good little soldier" and stayed strong during your private "pop quizzes" when most would have wilted. I know that you hide your pain of feeling lost more of the time than anyone would suspect. I know that you do not like to whine or call attention to yourself, for fear of intruding. I know, like me, there are times when you are aware that stillness is what you need, yet you resist like the plague entering it, for fear of what you will find and what will find you.
I also know there are times when you blame yourself. But I ask you, has this improved your situation? I think not. Self-blame is merely one more distraction, one more dodge from the only thing that ever saves: the wisdom inside your heart, the food alone that nourishes the soul.
Facing "what is" now in your life cannot be easy. Facing life as it is, particularly when compared to what we'd hoped and planned, forces a peeling away of identity, the who we believed we must be to be valued, treasured, and loved "as is."
The real question is: How can we liberate ourselves from the thankless role of feeling like grapes in the press? How can we be free through whatever path we've been given? We must come to our own answer. No course, no book, no expert advise can give it to us via the express lane. It comes through cultivating a genuine relationship with silence in the stillness, through embracing the pause between how we've been living, what we've believed to be so, and what is around the corner that we have not met.
When I have practiced this inquiry myself, my answer has come piecemeal over a long time. The time it has taken has brought untold bouts with impatience, self-doubt, frustration, and anger. On the other hand, the time it has taken is akin to the time it takes to distill a good sauce: steady, even heat on low, stirring the pot, waiting for what will come.
What has come, in my own case, is the answer to my quest all gets down to love. As the poet put it: "I made a vow, and a vow was made for me." It has taken more than 60 years for me to "come clean" with that vow, to accept it as my GPS in this incarnation, and to live it out sincerely. Simply put, I am a fool for love in a mistrusting world. It is, however, only my little answer.
Each of us is left to find our own. You must look to you. You are on a search and rescue mission of soul. Look to what your heart finds thrilling. Look to what brings you awe and wonder, regardless how small. Trust what you find splendid, glorious, renewing. This is nothing other than your answer, embedded in that underground river of your own best self. Trust what comes. It is real for you. Living by it and recording your footsteps on this map will make you free.
Liberation comes with a toll. Make no mistake about it. It is the Pearl of Great Price. And, like the pearl, the knowing of the thing begins with embracing those microscopic little irritants that you find along the way. Know they are for you. Know that whatever is your path, it is there with purpose.
Each path is different. My own came through the loss of a child. Nothing in the world touches me more than children. Naturally, nothing could reach me more than the severance of such a bond; nothing could get my attention more completely, to the call of the beloved, when all else appears gone.
The incredible thing about your path, whatever it might be, is that it holds the capacity for you to more deeply come into the grace that comes alone from the Beloved. Grace is never given by the ego, by its worldly possessions or ambitions, but remains the domain of the most sacred, known by infinite names. The Beloved offers us, in the stillness, the exquisite opportunity to lean forward, into the moment, and yet simultaneously step back, fully witnessing the suffering, the pain. Each of us, through our stories of anguish (and yes, of joy) are given the chance to hear the call to who we really are beneath our conditions and circumstances.
This is the call of the Beloved, at work through our lives, through what we don't want and through what we do want, to live again. How often do we hear those we know say they are afraid of dying? But the greater fear is fear of living. Really, truly living, free to be who we are, as glorious as we are, right here, right now, damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead. Bathe yourself in love through all that comes. For love is who you are in splendid packaging. Talk about a gift! This gift is you, being you, in a world that needs the glory that you are, beginning with telling the truth as only you can.
I say, "To life. To love. To love at work through you!"
Your turn: What helps you find your GPS? I'm listening! Thanks for forwarding this to all you know. I will be back 5/16/12, God willing!
New: For those who wish accompaniment, copies of The Love Project: Coming Home are now available in second printing. Contact me below.
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