“It is not humility to insist on being someone that you are not. It is as much as saying that you know better than God who you are and who you ought to be. How do you expect to arrive at the end of your own journey if you take the road to another man’s city? How do you expect to reach your own perfection by leading someone else’s life? His sanctity will never be yours; you must have the humility to work out your own salvation in a darkness where you are absolutely alone.”
—Thomas Merton, “New Seed of Contemplation,” (New Directions Publishing & The Abbey of Gethsemani, 1961) p.100.
It is more than enough to know that I am led my love. It is the greatest reality that I have ever known. And yet, I still wander through the world searching for road signs. I am gentle with myself about this, because old habits die hard. So do old paradigms and old worlds. A last dying grasp, usually, before I surrender again to the only thing that I bank the farm on. The fact that love organized the Universe, knows every little hair on my head, and has an expansive vision for my life that includes a deep and abiding joy.
It’s hard to call up the memory of how I really felt the day I walked into the world without a suitcase, money or a plan. Desperate yes, but connected too. I was on a ride with two strangers, but they were taking me to get help. I just didn’t have the emotional energy to fight fear anymore, because it had more than terrified and exhausted me; it rendered me speechless. I think it was that fact, that I couldn’t talk anymore, that made me know I was on to something. The ugly fear committee in my head had to shut up in the presence of love because I was listening to something else. It was bigger than my heart. It was a full being immersion into the unknown. I just didn’t know where I was going or where I would end up. I was invited on this road though. Love had told me to “go naked” that morning, at least I believed it was love.
And that is a big part of the equation; allowing my mind to rest in the belief that something loves me enough to lead me, and direct me to provision too. It was my first conscious and sustained experience with the reality of being. I had stopped doing. I couldn’t control anything, and that felt like relief.
I stopped asking questions about what to do next, at least from human beings. I said thank you a lot; especially when someone gave me something that I needed. I realized that it was happening daily at the beginning, and it fortified me because I attributed the kindness as evidence that God was real, and paying close attention to me.
Almost seven years later, I still have the invitation to live this way. And, often I forget and try to control outcomes that I can’t and stomp my feet and yell, “What?” “What am I supposed to do now?”
It doesn’t take long after such tantrums for me to realize that I just needed to blow off steam, or move some emotional energy, because in no time, a peace comes over me and I laugh.
I am an educated and reasonably intelligent woman, and disciplined. But there are just some things that I can’t make happen anymore, at least not when I want them to. But I can trust that something loving and wise is working them out, and they will resolve at the perfect time, and in the perfect way. I have seen this happen a thousand times in recovery; you’d think I’d never forget. It’s just like having sea legs in the fourth dimension; it takes time to learn to walk this new world of conscious contact with God. I walk it better when I choose loving thoughts over fear based ones though. That is my work, and my discipline. I am a better person when I am not afraid, and the world is a better place too.