*Brian Wilcox. 'Silence among the Smokies (no. 1)'. Flickr
*Photograph taken first afternoon of silent retreat from hermitage in the Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina.
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In terms of spiritual paths, we can say, using a frequent metaphor, sexual love, that intimacy with Life moves from foreplay to coitus. This should not surprise us, since a spiritual path is a way of relationship, of intimacy, of love, or it is not a spiritual path at all.
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A friend, member of a local church, would often visit the sage. This day, he came distraught and seeking a resolution to what he saw to be a problem.
The friend said, "I have a problem. I have been a regular attending member of the same church since childhood, and now I feel disconnected from all the words and acts we share together. The doctrine no longer speaks to me, the messages from the pastor fall on my deaf ears, and the ritual, which used to feel so much an expression of my love for my Lord, feels dead and wooden. Nothing about any of this now moves my heart as it once did, even the reading of the Scriptures. And the same is true of my quiet times in devotion ~ I feel no devotion. I am simply going through the motions, hiding my true feelings from everyone, feeling guilty, like I am being untrue to my Lord and my spiritual brothers and sisters."
"Friend," replied the sage, "this is not a problem at all, this is a gift, a blessing. How fortunate you are to be given this and speak honestly about it, for few are willing to do so."
"What do you mean this is a gift, a blessing?"
"Simply contemplate this for a few days, and come back and tell me what you discover.
Every true Lover of God
once heard the words,
Stop kissing the door
and come in
*Brian K. Wilcox. "Meetings with an Anonymous Sage." Poem "Come In!" from Brian K. Wilcox. An Ache for Union.
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"Door" represents, for me in writing this poem years ago, all that assists us in connecting with Spirit. Grace manifests to us in particular forms. Things like images, words, teachings, scriptures, and rituals are created means to connect with the Uncreate. Most persons cannot, at first, find fellowship with an abstraction, an intangible. If I say, "Pray to the Absolute," or "the Light," or "Beauty," or "Primordial Purity," few can work practically and devotionally with that abstractness. Yet, if one says, "Pray to Buddha," or "a Buddha," or "Jesus," or "Heavenly Father," or "Great Mother," or "Allah," ... that gives shape to the abstract, making the abstract appear tangible.
Wisdom paths recognize the importance of relative means to join with the Absolute, tangible ways to the Intangible. They, also, acknowledge this can become a hindrance to allowing ourselves to be drawn into deeper Intimacy with the Spirit.
So, "Here" in the poem represents the intimacy beyond the "door." "Kissing the door" is important, for it prepares us for a deeper intimacy with Grace. Yet, we will struggle to let go and allow ourselves to be drawn into the Silence. The struggle itself is okay, for that is part of what prepares us to release. When we release, this may feel more like a being released than an act of will to release, for the melting of willfulness is what happens with the letting go into this Intimacy.
Do we stop "kissing the door"? No. But maybe for a time. If so for a time, we reintegrate the forms of the path with this Intimacy. Regardless, the form must be integrated into the Formless. With this, all life is being drawn into the Light of Love.
So, with this process, the way we see and speak of the path will change. We were seeing and speaking before from outside the "door." Now, we are seeing and speaking from inside the "door." Nothing has changed, really, but where we are living from. And, we discover, in time, this "outside" and "inside" is an illusion, for "within" or "inside" speaks only of a more subtle intimacy, and this intimacy is as much in what we call "outside" us as "inside" us. This means, these polarities of "within" and "without" are drawn into an Intimacy, Intimacy Itself, where neither exits anymore as opposites.
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The late Karl Rahner, in Encounters with Silence, and in the chapter "God of my Prayer," shares of his struggle to connect with God in prayer. He refers to what he does in prayer, such as his thoughts and feelings and resolutions, and refers to the purpose of such.
All that is only clearing the ground, so the soul will be ready for that precious moment when You offer it the possibility of losing itself in the finding of You, of praying itself into You.
* * *
So, we could ask, "When will I be ready to open the door?" You will know by the ache in yourself. And, we could inquire, "How shall I open the door?" In one sense, you open the door; in one sense, you cannot open the door, the door will open of itself, or in theistic terms God will open the door. Whether theist or nontheist, we are welcomed into this Intimacy, we are made for this Closeness.
*Brian Wilcox. 'Not One & Not Two'. Flickr
Photograph taken in Great Smokey Mountains, North Carolina. ... Not One & Not Two speaks of a closeness of heart, of essence, that can not be put into words, transcending the polarity of one and two.
*(C)Brian K. Wilcox, 2019