I’ve a new stack of books.

Like a banquet table overflowing with deliciousness, I sit before it, overcome by the bounty that is filling my belly, and I suddenly realize how very hungry I’ve been. And, as after eating a healthy meal, I leave this table full of energy for life. Alive.

It feels like coming in from a long famine. Though i realize that i have been fed these past years (it could be a decade now, if I’m honest) on my forays into the wilderness, where I experience this sense of wholehearted and holy aliveness, this new feast feels like bringing that wild nourishment home into my dwelling place, the table laid out before me rich with belonging. I don’t need to ‘go out to eat’, so to speak. Nor am I homesick any longer. I feel wholly at home in myself, in my life, right here.

Perhaps i might name this place inside of me that is being filled, as the Wild Within. I am at last, after a long stretch of barrenness, finding abundance in there, a lush forest, life-giving water, creatures to companion me, belonging and wholeness.

It is not lost on me that the first book I pulled forth from the stack had the word ‘Hunger’ in its title (Hunger for Wholeness, no less) I expect there was something in me that recognized this Hunger in me, something subconscious, a yearning deeper than awareness, stirred awaken by its empathetic title. Reading it (devouring it?) was perhaps like pouring over an initiatory map, one that reoriented me to this internal landscape I’d forgotten how to navigate. That book stirred within me the sense of wonder, in a radical way, that has been missing in my relationship to Life, with its talk of a universal, cosmological, consciousness of Love –becoming, evolving, inspiring, drawing forth– and of my place, integral–belonging in it and participating with it. Reading this book was analagous to lying back on that bit of granite, gazing out into the dark depths of a star littered sky and bathing myself in its wonder.

The second book, pulled from the stack was a theological and philosophical exploration of the ‘experience of God’, which worked my brain in a way it hasn’t been engaged in some long time. Perhaps it too has been a bit starved. I loved the way the author kept asserting over and again that it is impossible to put the experience of God into language and yet kept attempting to do so, nonetheless. It was such a delightfully circular discourse, and I found the way he played with the etymology of words and vocabulary utterly beguiling ( the unpacking of the root of the word ‘ex-sistence’ – was gold for me )  The section on ‘Thou’ was akin to a 5 page Koan and took me out of rational thought long enough to entertain another way of knowing.

This book for me, then, to follow this metaphor of exploring the wild inner terrain, was perhaps like studying, through scientific observation, the intimate details of a wild creature, its habits and habitats, delving deeper with the attention of the mind to grow more intimate with the heart, and in that intimacy experiencing a sense of belonging to and with.

Belonging is the word that keeps bubbling up for me in prayer. My sense of separation/alienation seems to have dissolved/ the veil ‘between’ lifted. In its place is this feeling of interconnection and Oneness. And, again, I am struck with the similarity of this feeling space with the one I experience ‘out there’ in the wilderness landscape — boundaryless, yet intact at once. Integral integrity.

Until I sat to write this moening, I hadn’t made this connection between the inner wilderness and the outer one, hadn’t the thought at all that I was paddling through this inner/outer world, through a world whose awe-someness leaves me feeling deep peace, ecstatic joy and astounding intimacy. This inner cosmos feels as rich and deep and spaciousness and expansive as the universe itself, for it is those same seeds in me from which the cosmos exploded into being, continuing to unfold and become, in exponential, intersecting concentric circles of wonder.

This feels like an ‘at last’ for me. I no longer need live a fragmented existence, where wholeness is discovered in one particular place only, but is an ever present reality. No longer need i gorge upon the feast of wholeness in the outer wilderness, and then starve myself back home, in a viscious cycle of binge and purge. (And I am not so naive as to think that deserts and droughts are not part of the natural cycle of things. While I suspect the feast/famine cycle is engrained in our ancestral DNA — after all that is likely how we survived- and that ceaseless growth is akin to cancer- it may not be a health-giving way of sustaining a Life)

The third book from the stack, which invited this particular journaling prompt, is speaking to more to my feminine heart, than to my exploding brain– the heart of relationship and receiving the Beloved. I haven’t been able to ‘pray’ in this way for a long time, but this morning I felt just a bit of that Loving Gaze- the Thou as I, the theologian might say. Somehow this Loving Conscousness that is the Source of All , in a surprising turn of events, in a paradoxical twist of expanding to embrace the vastness of a transcendant otherness has turned full circle into reinviting me into the most intimate of bonds, as if the expansion outward is met by an equally deep inwardness of being known. I don’t understand the how of that, but the Divine is as willing to embody the Beloved as It is to emit a flash of light from a dark hole or explode the cosmos into being. (I mean how could I not have understood this?) And somehow, just when my mind understands that there is not 2, no subject/object split, my heart is opened to receive again, some aspect of Loveself breaking in to whisper ‘Yes, You’

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