Jesus has been known to suggest that one’s experience of our collective dream of separation is marked by an upside down, inside out view of things. We experience Love… as bound up with our pain, or perhaps we are afraid of what Love would offer us. We fear the things that offer us peace and eternal happiness, because of what we think they will cost us, and we are drawn into attachments with those things that offer us only suffering and death, because we think we can hold onto them and achieve at least a semblance of value that is our very own. In thinking about this journey without distance, this awakening from isolated terror to the holy accompaniment of all that is, I found myself struck by the parallels between getting lost, and returning to Love.
This makes sense, I thought, since getting truly lost is horrible, and that is precisely upside down from truly finding Love. But the logic of this metaphor doesn’t stop there. No ma’am!
Imagine you drove out to a beautiful forest on a bright sunny day, with the birds singing and the butterflies flitting to and fro, and you said to yourself, today I am going to get lost. You might then say to yourself that you really mean it. For good measure. There are a number of problems with this willful misplacing of yourself in the wilderness, however. For instance, at what point do you begin to wonder how well you are doing? You might walk for an hour or two and then ask yourself, am I lost yet? Well no, not yet. You find you’re quite confident if you walk back the way you just came, while you might not recall every step, you’ll get back to the car in roughly the same amount of time it took you to arrive at the location in which you are standing. The type of vigilance that comes from checking in on our progress every fifteen minutes is far from conducive to actually losing our way.
I think it is the same with reaching a place of deep and abiding peace, of warm communion with the heart of our being. All this asking, am I there yet? plays against the very objective that is sought.
Next, it is apparent to me that being lost is a state of mind. When we first begin to wonder where the hell we are, the mind begins its litigation against the conclusion that we are lost. No, no we’re not lost, we tell ourselves. We’re just temporarily getting our bearings. We may not know exactly where we are, per se, but you know, the sky is clear, we’ve been heading south all day, so the car and/or the highway that brought us here are to the north. Simple. Or else we’re convinced that up ahead there will be a village, or a clearing with an old map tacked to a tree, or some other delusory circumstance that will turn the tables. We’re not lost at all. Just exploring. Live a little, would ya’? In this way the mind insulates us from the fact that we could be lost, even in circumstances where this might very well be the case.
Likewise, on the flip side of this coin, our minds insulate us from the experience we are having right now, the one of continuously arriving in the discovery of the Loving Reality in which we all share. No, no the mind says. This experience–such a word!– is just an ephemeral state of dancing hormones in your glandular system. You’re tired is all. You’re not any different than before. You are who you’ve always been. I told you who you are, remember? We had an agreement. We know what’s going on here. You’re no different than the other day when we decided the right road is small, incremental adjustments. Otherwise, how could you keep track of what’s really going on?
Then there’s the Big Moment. Oh shit… We’re lost. What’s next is panic. Or grim determination. Or an exercise in suddenly deploying our long lost tracking skills. We fall back on skills learned vicariously through television. What’s next, ultimately, is the sense that something has gone wrong…
Flip the coin. The acceptance of Love is hovering near. We’re on the verge of a radical reversal of thought and perception. The sensation arises that what lies on the other side of this reversal is not only wholly different than our past, but unknown and unpredictable. Oh look, a butterfly! A sign! Distraction. Or… oh, no! I’m not ready. There’s one more thing I need to do, but now I know where to go, I’ll just go do that and come back tomorrow…
So I think that accepting Love wholly, is a lot like getting lost. It’s inevitable, once we learn to walk by feel, blindfolded through the woods, without keeping track of every little turn and fork in the road. It’s inevitable, once we realize, we never really knew where we were to start with…
If you’re not lost yet, fall in love with whatever you are doing right now, and don’t look up until it’s over. The other thing you can do is commit to keep walking, further and further into the forest. Commit to never looking back. This type of commitment is what I believe Jesus means by willingness. You just take a step, and then a step, and then a step. Until you don’t even dare think of what it would take to get back. Plus you’ll be traveling with a group by then, sneaking about under the stars at night, writing poems and telling stories about a place and time you’ve nearly forgotten altogether.
It’s a journey without distance, but it doesn’t mean you always stay in the same place… Your hopelessly lost heart won’t abide it.