it ain’t easy being green

“This is the work: to take these feelings of loneliness and exile and bring them into the furnace of the heart, where emotional abandonment becomes mystical abandonment” – Fred Bahnson

How full of peace I was feeling just a few short weeks ago, at the end of winter, with all of those quiet, alone days on the calendar nurturing the introvert in me. (well, I do live with somebody, but our days and our ways in our tiny cottage seemed to meld into an easy, quiet rhythm with one another this winter).

Back at the beginning of the new year, I’d begun yet another ‘regular’ meditation practice, which included setting an intention and then letting it go, like dropping a seed into the dark winter earth and trusting that it would blossom. One of those intentions, which seemed to swirl about in those dark recesses, was ‘freedom’, which I realized was really about being released to be who I am without shame.  (I wrote a bit about that here The second word that came was ‘delight’, which, of course, was where I imagined I might live if those chains ever came fully undone.

But then I forgot about the setting of intentions, and the praying of prayers, and went about living my life. So, I savored the discovery I made at a poetry day a few weeks ago, realizing that I felt so full of delight that I could claim it as What I Know. Yes, I know the feeling of aliveness, of full-bodied (full spirited) presence, of being In Love. It is Who I am and How I Am.

I’m not sure I can exactly trace what has transpired between then and now. Perhaps with the advent of spring, and the opening of the doors, some pollution crept into my House of Belonging, reintroducing shame and clouding the mirrors of my self-perception. Mirrors that made me appear unworthy and unwelcome. Mirrors that distorted, reflecting that I am not enough as I am. Mirrors so smudged that I have felt utterly unseen.

The world outside can cast a harsh light, and I suppose others will always see through the lenses of their own perception, where I will never quite measure up to their need. But I also know that this is my work, to keep polishing that mirror, keep affirming my goodness. As I am. Beloved.

So, tonight, when I heard the author of the essay, On the Road with Thomas Merton, (in which he shared a bit of his childhood, one of adequate food and shelter but not of love) come to his own realization in these words,“This is the work: to take these feelings of loneliness and exile and bring them into the furnace of the heart, where emotional abandonment becomes mystical abandonment”, I saw myself in that clear, kindred mirror. Those feelings of being unloved and unseen crafted the core of a self, an internal mirror that distorts our own vision.

Most days I believe my mystical self has abandoned ME!, at least the part of me that felt so overwhelmingly beloved and beheld, cherished and healed, by ‘God’. She stepped across the threshold of unknowing into the darkness of agnosticism some time ago. Sometimes that abandonment can leave me feeling pretty empty, terribly alone in the universe, and utterly unseen.

Yes, I know this is not what the author meant by ‘mystical abandonment’, but rather an abandonment INTO mystery……

While I do feel, intensely at times, the profound mystery and sacredness of the earth, in all its terrible beauty, and I am deeply in love (In Love?) with it, do I know myself to be Loved, accepted, celebrated by It. When “God” be ones a What rather than a Who, where do we turn to be known? (Does that even matter, or is that merely a need of my ego?)

Can I simply belong, then, without needing to be seen?  I do feel a deep sense of belonging in the solitude of wild places, know myself to be a part OF it, and so it is to those places I go to experience wholeness. Most days, that is enough. Do I need to do/be/know/love/understand/see more than this?

Someone recently used the word ‘inscape’ (rather than escape) to describe such a flight from the harshnesses of the world into the wonders of the earth – perhaps because it is there that we at last meet ourselves, encounter the sacred mystery of our lives.  Within the landscape of the earth, the mirror of the soul is held, and I am simply free to BE, delighting in it all.

Does this sound like I have just talked myself out of my pain and into denial?

Or into Love?

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