Letting go of our beliefs is like diving into the galaxies, and realizing after your feet leave the diving board that it's possible, likely even, there’s no bottom to it. You can only assume that spinning out will eventually take you home; or you'll be flying out here in space until the end of time itself with no way back in. If this sounds more dramatic than it needs to be, you’re probably right, yet the outcome of this dive into the unknown is filled with possibility for unintended consequences that shift life as you know it, which could be good or could be bad. As it turns out, it is earth shattering.
In my life, this dive took me by the hand and catapulted me into its pure honesty. I didn’t quite expect the catapult; a gentle wading into warm, shallow water was the image that swam calmly and methodically before my mind’s eye; but when I began taking the first step, it grabbed and pulled me back, projecting me into itself like I was the arrow in Sagittarius’ bow.
I slowed; surprised to discover gravity held me - once I was far enough out to erase the imagery handcuffed to me, along with deafening illusions that sounded disturbing alarms each time I lost sight of them.
These illusions and images attached to religion and imagery that belonged to others had shaped my consciousness around God from the beginning of time it seems, even though that couldn’t possibly be true since in life’s beginning, the truth surely stood before me, in me, and with me as wholeness - itself inside me and me inside it. But what do I know?
I’d always assumed gravity would be the force to cause my fall, slamming me into whatever was below wherever I was. But now, it had transformed this experience into one that held me to itself, slowing the movement to outside of life itself and seemed to be drawing me back to itself. Perhaps that’s what gravity was after all, and once you are where you were supposed to be, it held you in its embrace.
Asking myself what I believe was a question I hadn't dared ask for decades. I skimmed the surface of it with the right words and kept my identity intact by assumption and association. But marrying a pastor called for deeper inquiry and a vigilant integrity if I was to take the next step of this journey.
One moonless night in the mountains of Idaho, my personal truth rose up within. The answers didn't come the way I thought they might.
This dive took me further than I imagined sitting on the phone talking to Wally that night from the summit in the pick up. Finding this specific spot required inching all the way up to the cattle guard on the left with your right headlight just barely touching the railroad tie that held the barbed wire that held the green gate they close in winter when the snow gets deep enough to close the road. This tiny piece of ground in a vast wilderness was the only access to a cell signal for miles - if it chose to grace you with an appearance. Sitting there, at 9,000 feet, with only the coyotes howl competing with the cell tower for air space, the signal came through just long enough to tell him what I was listening for had arrived.
It was an answer that looked nothing like I expected, yet exactly what my soul had spoken countless times, sometimes as a choking whisper, in its gasp for air when I pulled its plug,moving on to things that mattered not.
The stars were falling on the pick-up's hood. It was aglow from the burning embers and ignited my heart each time they touched down.
I feared my heart might burst into flame and then dissolve into ash.
Would these stars tumble off as I bumped my way back down the dusty road to the cabin at cow camp, or remain a collective ornament to light the way? This dusty road, falling stars, and a burning heart brought to mind ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
The dust was so thick, another car would have to stay three car lengths back to glimpse a brake light up ahead. Everything was surreal, yet realer than ever. As I drove, I was aware of nothing and everything.
A heart ablaze, a moving vehicle, and this dusty road became a living metaphor for God in the emptying, which simultaneously translated to God in the crowning too. Birth was always so exhausting and time consuming. I wondered why that was as I softly pressed on the gas pedal.
I listened closely to hear more. I wanted more, or so I thought. I knew I needed to put pressure on the accelerator, a lesson I’d learned countless times before. Even inching slowly forward, or skidding out from standing still with a blood curdling scream of flying gravel, would flip the ignition switch over so energy could flow. I had to show up more to know more.
I didn’t know if this switch contained the connections that turned God off and on inside, but I did know it was a pathway in that direction, even if not the main access point. I leaned in more, pressing just a bit harder and kicking up some dust.
Life began to come into focus. Primarily because I began to experience a contrast unlike any other since my birth into consciousness - as far as I could tell.
My soul had spoken. It was an announcement, really.
This new awareness had not arrived with a feeling, or glib assumption based on whimsical intuition I so often trusted to be so. This was far beyond the familiar knowing of these amateur ways.
This had risen from the depths, from the place my soul ends, and something beyond my understanding began.
Oddly, the sharp contrast that characterized this personal truth, finally being unveiled, showed itself in the ordinary stuff of life, making it extraordinary.
The journey had been fraught with obstacles needing vigilant navigation through high seas of change and certainty; and no life raft in sight. This type of navigation only found its way if I released my need to manage expectations, and asked me to surrender them completely along the way. And if not managing change wasn’t enough to make me crazy, this villain called certainty wore many hats, camouflaging itself in every kind of terrain - stalking me in steep canyons, and lying in wait behind bushes that grew beyond the tree line each time the summit began coming into view.
Yet, when this gravity slowed me, I could listen well and the stillness was loud enough to make out what it had been trying to tell me all along.
There is something that happens when letting go of an idea actually frees us into understanding, or into the kind of faith we don't need to understand.
And sometimes, it shows up as a faith that something is being born - even if we have no idea what is incubating. Is it the transition into knowing, not the knowing itself, that draws the light to shine on us?
The outcome was a big faith, of not the religious kind, that trusts the mystery without words, ideas, or truths to memorize.
It just is itself, in the way we are in our comfiest pajamas on a cold winter night snuggled under the down comforter our mother gave us once upon a time. Our socks are worn thin inside our worn out sneakers, the ones we wear to run out to the mailbox and hope nobody notices these shoes we love to slip on in any weather. We catch ourselves actually praying they'll last forever as we trade them for the stiff leather ones that are vice grips on our feet as we dress for work.
We pray because how we feel inside them is one of the most honest experiences of ourselves we know. It’s an us we own fully, even if nobody else would get it. But that’s not the strange part. The actual saying of a prayer to an unknown God about some old shoes is the weird part because you actually mean it and hope someone/something is listening.
How could this meaningless matter that barely qualifies as concentration of structure rate as a genuine and sincere prayer to the Divine, to the ruler of the Universe?
There was no answer for a question about something this inane, yet the question was so completely true that I decided to dive deeper and keep asking why.
It didn't take long to realize it wasn’t definite answers that brought me to this newfound freedom I felt.
It was permission to float around in the nothingness that made the whole trip worth it.
It occurs to me now that the changes were happening in the wondering, not in the a-has that often top the thought process off. Would certain answers bring it to a close? I knew instantly I'd mourn the loss of these loose ends.
If it wasn't the answers; but the tacking along the way of wondering that brought everything to life, then what did the a-ha satisfy? And how did a void, this space between the answers, birth such a sense of aliveness? Thoughts like these filled my head incessantly, and over recent years, have become the stuff of life itself; just as intimate conversations with someone dear once had. Could this turning inward be a natural progression of aging, or is something else afoot?
Until next time - peace to your house,