For nearly a fortnight this little outpost in the electronic landscape has been a purveyor of radio silence- a dot of ink indistinguishable from the backdrop of the night sky. Only an expert in this tiny slice of the night sky would have noticed the absence of a star in the heavens, the one eclipsed by my corpuscle blot of quiet. Jesus, for instance, standing in a meadow beneath the night sky, observing the vast, banded glow of the Milky Way, would notice this miniscule sign, and then put on the headphones that listen to the bug we installed together on the inner wall of my heart.
There He would hear the following signal: sleep-sleep-work-sleep-work-work-work-sleep-sleep-work-sleep-sleep-work-work… He would understand. This is what a fortnight spent with a sinus infection sounds like on the inside.
He would also understand the questions the changing seasons of our lives generate- the questions fostered by both the short term unpredictabilities and the longer-term weathering of time. And He would recognize these are both but cover stories for the still deeper transformation unfolding in our hearts.
One of our deepest questions is: how do we relate the two seemingly real threads? How do we correlate the external whorling to the inner experience of being? When the inner warmth wanes, and we find ourselves walking (seemingly alone) on a narrow street punctuated by the sputter of spent lamps and streaking, hungry cats, how do we get the inner glow back? When the inner fire is strong, how could the external whorling not have settled down?
Unexpected difficulties foster questions of causation. A nuisance illness begs the question: if my practice cannot control this, how futile is it really, as a defense against the things I really fear? Has something gone wrong? You see, having recognized that the world as we know it is attended by suffering that cannot be explained or solved by rational dialogue, by committee or expert, by anything we know about, (other than Love), my strongest feeling- the type of feeling that comes to your rescue when you are suddenly confronted by danger, the type of feeling that means surely an archangel has entered the moment you inhabit with sublime power- is that Love is the only plausible solution. This is the principle to which I return, like a ball thrown periodically into the air. If this doesn’t work… then what?
An unexpected and unwelcome whorling in our lives begs the question: is Love really working? I confess having succumbed briefly to the notion that such a question deserves an answer. It didn’t stay with me long this round, and the truth is that it doesn’t deserve an answer. The part of us that begs this question doesn’t need to be treated as an equal. This is our core difficulty: we treat nothing at all as an equal to Everything. We haven’t yet fully given up our own interpretations… The unwelcome sort of unpredictability in our living- as opposed to the joyous, creative unpredictability of discovery- is symptomatic of the places within us where we still carry this question: what if Love doesn’t work for this type of problem? All the weight we carry in our lives is in the form of this uncertainty.
This uncertainty interrupts the correlation between the inner and outer worlds. It is like static on the line that binds one to the other. While we entertain this question, the external whorling is cut off from the cause within us, free to evolve as if under the direction of some foreign power. But there is no foreign power. Meaninglessness arises when we assign the whorling a cause it doesn’t possess, and thus isolate ourselves from meaning. So long as we are willing to entertain the question, “what if Love doesn’t work for this type of thing?” we will experience the whorling results of meaninglessness.
It is one thing to forgive this question when the offending symptom is a ramified head cold, a harsh word, a broken cell phone, or a fender bender, but when it is a typhoon, a flood, the loss of a loved one, a war, or a shattered economy it seems more difficult to look past meaningless and back into Meaning.
My experience is that this Love is a feeling within us that is larger than the whole world. I have never encountered a circumstance into which it couldn’t quietly flood, if I would but invite it. Sometimes offering this invitation is easier said than done. Yet Love waits patiently for our return, knowing there is really nowhere else for us to go. Moment-to-moment we give ourselves back to it. As we do, we wonder if anything is happening. All this looking for evidence of progress- it is time to give that back to Love as well…