“For, as you have no doubt discovered, the further we travel along the self-transforming path of meditation, the more we realize ourselves to be immersed in beginnings that never end.”
– James Finley
A young woman longs to know God and rises every day at 5 am for silent meditation. And every day, sure as the sun, her small children rise too, just as she’s begun. They climb into her lap, clinging to her while she struggles to maintain her concentration.
The young woman explains this situation to her wise teacher, asking for help and wondering how she can ever pursue the contemplative path as a mother under these circumstances.
The teacher says, “Let’s pretend for a second that I am God and you are you. Here’s my message for you, as God: Dear One, I see you working so hard, getting up so early just to find time to be with me. I really appreciate that, really I do. In fact, I love it so much that every morning I can’t help but to enter the bodies of your children and climb into your lap, just so I can know what it feels like to be held by you.”
Whether or not you’re a parent, rest assured that what seems like an obstacle on your journey is actually God’s meeting place; the portal through which God communes most intimately with you.
May we consider the possibility of leaning into our perceived roadblocks even more fully. This is the path of radical welcoming, reckless non-resistance.
In the Living School, Jim Finley describes contemplative practice as “the stance of least resistance.” We practice silence or meditation or centering prayer because it is the stance of least resistance to receiving the grace of mystical experience. This is the state in which we are most likely to experience God within. Finley is also the wise teacher in the anecdote above, and as such, he is awakened enough to turn his own teaching on its head.
Despite our best efforts, life unfolds. Regardless of our striving, life unfolds. The work of a true contemplative is to allow the unfolding, even at the risk of one’s own practice.
Lately, I’ve considered the possibility that faster is not better in terms of awakening. In my rush to enlightenment, it occurred to me that, perhaps, there is important work to do here at precisely my current level of consciousness. And if that is so, I must undergird this possibility with the belief in my inherent preparedness. Let me trust, then, my supernatural ability to manifest what is mine to do.
Isn’t it always both/and? Show up and also let go. Show up. Let go.
If I know anything about the spiritual journey, it is this: Surrender is required. So is rest. Let us look to the yogis who complete their asana practice with “corpse pose,” lying flat on one’s back in the shape of death – ultimate integration – so that upon waking, one rises to new life. Let us look to the rhythm of each day, with the labor of sunup and the ceasing of sundown. Let us look to the Cross and gaze upon the universal pattern which asks us both to show up and let go.