How I linger
to admire, admire, admire
the things of this world
that are kind, and maybe
also troubled ~
roses in the wind,
the sea geese on the steep waves,
a love to which there is no reply?
Mary Oliver's words above are part of a poetic narrative on inner healing, the poem "Heavy," and reminds of need for spaciousness to receive wholeness. Wholeness is not perfection, an end to a journey we must get to; wholeness is every moment, every blessing of healing is wholeness. Healing, likewise, is not always conscious, or in response to a pain one is aware of. Healing can be occurring underneath awareness of it. A moment of spontaneous joy, for no reason at all, can be part of a healing process. Seeing healing as process, not merely a fix to some pain, changes how we see and experience healing. Contemplative spirituality is as much about the silent workings of Grace healing in unseen, unknown ways, as about conscious healing.
Contemplative spirituality, furthermore, teaches healing needs space, needs time, is process. Here, I mean, first inner space, but outward is needed. Outward facilitates inward, and vice versa. For example, we oft connect well with Life outside in nature, partly due to the surrounding spaciousness. Yet, silence and apartness, such as in meditation, this nurtures a connection that extends to nature, as well. And, remember, nature is not just something out there, nature is you, is me; we are nature.
Spaciousness relaxes hustle, invites playfulness, including rumination with or without a purpose. In her chapter, "Learning to Play," in Present over Perfect, Shauna Niequist writes of her defaulting to hustle mode. In her healing process, she observes...
And so one of the little tiny things I'm learning to do is to play ~ essentially, to purposely waste time. Strategically avoid strategy, for five minutes at a time. Intentionally not be intentional about every second. Have no purpose ~ on purpose.
How do we do this, when our surrounding culture validates speed and questions a contented, mindful and non-busy contentedness? How do we do this when others do not see speed and bustle is oft a facade for unintelligent laziness, regardless of how validated by others too scared to slow down (yes, busyness is a form of laziness)? Well, for one, we can do as Mary Oliver shares ~ we can engage nature, and see what happens in that spaciousness and receptivity. We may see, surprisingly, nature is not mute; as Rumi testifies:
Never think the earth void or dead ~
It's a hare, awake with shut eyes:
It's a sauce-pan, simmering with broth ~
One clear look, you'll see it's in ferment.
Another means of working with slowing down mind and body is through getting close to the discomfort of loneliness. We are conditioned for immediate feedback, we are overstimulated. What does it feel like to stop? Pema Chodron, in When Things Fall Apart, writes of allowing ourselves, while feeling heartache from alienation and loneliness, to "relax and feel the limitless space of the human heart?" Learning to be-with that space is an act of courage, later this becomes a welcome friend.
Why welcome friend? Loneliness is no more translated as something wrong. Loneliness is fecund ground, alive, even though you sense you have no ground under your feet. This rite of compassion to yourself, in itself, is healing. And it takes more courage than persons oft assume to stop, to be still, to be-with this moment, not rushing to the next moment. Being in the moment is really not this moment, but the only moment we have given to us.
But more, a wonderful more ~ or as witnessed by Mary Oliver, in this allowing spaciousness, this openness to Life, whether alone and secluded or communion with nature or others, we are blessed with and by a love to which there is no reply. We can become addicted to response, get uneasy when others do not give us the feedback we expect, we wanted and timely. Technology contributes to this, allowing speed of recognition and response. We post, who responds? how soon? We text. She replies. Not, then why? This technology allows a posing of heartful connection; likewise, fosters the speed that closes the space present to allow a deeper Connection with Life, a being-with love that in Itself expects and needs no reply to validate Itself, to be received and enjoyed.
In communion, quietly, from the Silence within, we can receive healing, befriend ourselves, and wed ourselves with the fecundity of contented spaciousness. We can connect with the love, when apart from or among others, with the love needing no reply, so welcoming freely reply. Love is invited to reply to Love.
This intentional rite of spaciousness nurtures Silence. This Silence is Presence. By cultivating, we find we are healing and healers, we find this Silence becomes like an aroma we carry with us; we become conduits of the healing quietness, even amid the noise and movement rightly part of life with others.
* * * CLOSING BLESSING * * *
Grace and Peace to All
The Sacred in Me bows to the Sacred in You
*Move your cursor over photos for photographer and title.
*Quote of Rumi, Translator A. J. Arberry.
*Lotus of the Heart is a Work of Brian K. Wilcox. Brian is an interspiriutal Contemplative Chaplain, Writer, and Poet, living in Florida, USA.