reorientation

There is a story shared in the book, Hunger for Wholeness, by Ilia Delio (a life-changing book, which I highly recommend) recounted by an anthropoligist, who had been approached by a Himbian man who asked, ‘Do you Westerneers really see the space between you as empty…. if so, how do you bear it?’ The Himbian sees each person as surrounded by a kind of self space, which extends out from him/herself. They rarely find themselves feeling ‘alone’ because they are always in touch with one another.

This Thanksgiving of 2020, many of us are choosing to be alone together. It is an act of love unlike what we have been taught to understand about love. So many of our ideas about Love have to do with tangible action- a flowing out from ourselves in word or deed- despite the fact that we also know that what feels like love is not at always something so concrete and nameable, and that those doable actions are expressions of a deeper impulse to connect. Often Love feels much more like being held and beheld, even when that being held is not at all act-ually physical. Love for the other likewise is an act of opening out to recieve– to hold and behold as Beloved.

So, on this day, when I may not be able to ‘reach out and (physically) touch someone’, when I cannot gaze upon the beloved’s face in the countenance of a loved one in my presence, how is it that I feel such a profound experience of all pervasive Love.

This has been a disorienting year, for sure, but perhaps it has been a reorienting one too. Stripped of the artifice that fills the space between us with distraction and busy-ness, I am left with the spaciousness of Love, teeming here. In the quiet al-oneness of the house this morning, I feel it. It is as if the soft shadows, in which this morning bathes me, are vibrant with its presence.

And i realize that something profound has shifted in me. It is as if my insides have been reorganized. The same stuff is no doubt there, within me, but, like reordering the words in sentence can express a completely contrary meaning, meaning seems to have reordered the contrary one in me. It feels as if the part of me that believed she was a separate self stepped out of the shadow into the light.

When I say ‘separate’ I don’t at all mean to say that she didn’t understand that she was an interdependent being, responsible and responsive, affected and affecting. Nor do I mean to say that she didn’t understand that she was connected to the Source, some expression of its creative wonder. I mean to say she didn’t undertand fully Who she was. She thought she was ‘individual’, perhaps containing her piece of the Light, but still divided off from it. Oh, even that is not correct for the way she used to feel (was that just yesterday?) for, again, it wasn’t at all as if she didn’t know she was connected to God (Universal consciousness, Light, Love, Groud of Being, Mystery, Whatever you name it), but perhaps that she didn’t at all feel integral to it. Nor did she understand that everything that is, all beings and nonbeings, were connected to her. Those proclamations of Oneness felt like a clever metaphor for relatedness, but not as if we were truly One. I think she thought we were all separate beings, walking around (or not walking at all, but rooted, or floating, or soaring) each with our own fragmented piece of the light. Equal, but separate, perhaps. She felt small and immaterial and isolated in the midst of that, wondrous as it was.

Adrift in the fog without an anchor.

But now she knows that even the fog is Her/her. In the midst of this strange season in human history, when we are being asked to isolate from each other as a way of showing our Love for one another, she finds herself feeling ultimately and intimately, profoundly connected, At One, Al-one, In Love. Embodied and out of body, inside-out.

Trite as it sounds, she has ‘seen the light’ and the light is all there is. One light, undivided, in her, surrounding her , in you, before you, behind you, through you, in the space between us, in the darkness, in the emptiness, in this fullness—for fullness is how she feels. Emptied of self and full at once. Her heart expanding from within and into wonder.

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