At the tail end of this last week I came down with a pretty decent sinus cold, my third in about four months. I invite you to listen to the voices with me, some inner, some outer… Taking vitamins? Getting enough rest? Gotta’ be stress-related. Your system is weak. You need more balance in your life. I take [insert the product here] and I never get sick. You should probably get more exercise. You’re not eating enough green vegetables. Think positive thoughts. The trend is not good. Believe you are invincible, and you will be. Damn, dude, that sucks.
On and on it goes.
I rolled up all that mumbo jumbo into a ball, soaked it in model airplane fuel, and lit it on fire. I’m working on giving up on tactics altogether, by the way, since I realized you can’t just have a little bit of a strategy and leave the rest to Grace. When the smoke cleared and I quit coughing like a Vicks Vapor Rub beta tester, I asked Hafiz what was going on. That helps me keep in mind the fact that everything happening is holy. (Have you read that one?) He told me the Beloved was sending me a few people who needed my help. He told my they arrive in the night, or when I’m looking the other way, bearing their packages of pain and discomfort, and they crawl inside my heart to take refuge. Then they’re pain starts wicking out, and I feel it oozing through me. He told me to stop calling it a symptom.
They need your help, he said. He told me to think of myself as a doorway to the sea beyond me, and dissolve them.
Easy for him to say.
So, I have been care-taking these beings. Getting to know them a bit. Sometimes I lose the plot and start giving them informal lectures about getting back on track, or an exasperated litany of what-for’s, but mostly I just sit with them, like a sky holding an earth.
Eventually you realize, these guests are not strangers.
* * * * *
Prayer for me has long been the mental reaching out into expansiveness. I invite the presence of Love for a visit, and then listen. I reflect upon the connotations of the word “holiness.” I take a few moments to forgive every useless thought that dares to make itself readily apparent. I imagine what it must be like to slog through eons of empty space and almost crash into a planet like ours, with billions of holy insanities crawling all over it, many of them with wires running out of their ears. I place the word “Jesus” into my heart, and in a magical instant all those wordless, intangible sensations I have come to recognize as His Presence fill the room, as if that word was a seed dropped into the planter of my heart, which took root, and produced an entire orchard.
These practices are like queries of the unknown. Like the sonar array on a submarine, I ping the unknown. I jostle the darkness. Then… my heart can hear the response. I feel that flutter of recognition, that twinge of knowing, that pause in the flow of time that wasn’t supposed to be there. My prayer is like going outside periodically to get a feel for the temperature, or dropping a knotted rope into the water every so often as the boat slides along. It keeps me in contact.
The sensation of a vast emptiness arises. Good. It is right here beside me if I need it…
When the guests of sickness arrived, and I chose to suspend day-to-day operations briefly to tend to their needs, I realized… there’s reading the flyers, there’s glimpsing through the window, there’s visiting, and keeping in contact, and then there’s permanent residence. The latter, I believe, is what we are called to accept. I realized each time I visit Love, but hold something apart, that something wanders around this world unattended, then eventually gets found seated near the highway, counting cars in a base 2 number system or some equally crazy madness. These parts are gently sent back to me by the Beloved, in desperate need of care-taking.
What is needed here, is to step into Love, but hold nothing back.
* * * * *
We have the sensation in our daily lives that even though we can contact the places we hold most dear, the world we inhabit can still contact us. So we practice the ever so refined art of ducking and weaving. Drink in Love. Avoid the fried food. This is living in between. Our circumstances can still happen to us. We still have a lot of management responsibilities. This feeling of being vulnerable, of being susceptible to what is not wholly desired, is our clue that our desire isn’t quite yet whole. We’re split somewhere, and maybe we don’t even know where.
We’ve done nothing wrong. I knew one thing even prior to spelunking through the Unknown in search of a post, and that is this: there is no cosmic force that metes out illness or suffering of any kind on any scale in direct proportion to any type of opinion, judgment, observation, perception, or intention. Our pain simply comes home, looking for a way back in, like a lost child in need of warmth and attention. If you’re like me, you’re still not entirely convinced the business end of Creation is you and I. It’s a bit much to get into the realm of practicality. But we ping this concept with our imagination, and our heart says, “Yes!” when the echo returns. Then we go do something else for a little while. Then we ping again.
How long do we do this? What remains for us?
Acceptance. Acceptance of all of it. Acceptance of power. Acceptance of grace. When all our lost selves have returned home, been welcomed and fed, and dissolved into the light of our presence, I am convinced we will remember where we have always dwelt. There will be no distance any longer. Prayer will not be a ping out into the darkness to verify our current range to Love, but a continuously flowing recognition of the Reality that we are, and have always been. This is what I heard from a friend, before he dissolved.