We are all infinite beings. No religion can encapsulate us in our entirety. I love that there are people who treasure the old traditions and keep them safe. I am not good at that. I keep a looser rein with the various religions, allowing myself to ride into the Beyond in a variety of ways that have worked for other peoples, cultures, and times. I am an explorer and adventurer, or I could just be deemed a dilettante. But don’t we all owe it to our one sacred chance at this particular life to explore and ask every single big question we can muster? I think we do. I believe we are given this chance to live into the midst of the wild and blessed world with as much curiosity, courage, and humor as we can.
One sultry night while I was living in India, recovering from two major surgeries, I had a dream. I dreamed that I woke up and realized I could fly, so I stepped outside my house and flew into the air. I soared towards a massive Gothic Cathedral. I thought that edifice was my destination, but then I sailed right through it. As I passed beyond its last spire, I looked down upon a bustling town square. I swooped towards a young man who was bent in his hurry across the expanse. I whispered in his ear, "I love you." The magic was such that he did not hear me. Instead, he heard that blessing as from within himself. He suddenly felt lovable and whole. He stood taller. Then he said to himself, "I will go home and tell my wife how much I love her." I flew off to whisper into others' ears the love that they so needed. As I woke, I gasped, "That is what we get to do when we are dead! We get to fly around and bless people with love!"
Only later, I realized that is also what I hope to do in my writing. I want to be one of the many writers who help others rediscover who they are and why they are here, and give them encouragement to grasp hold of this one sacred life that we have.
This morning a woman is out walking her dog and singing loudly a song that she knows few words to, so she belts out, "dah, dah, dah-de-dah, dah, dah, dah-de-dah." What joy! What verve! Will I ever be so bold? I am not sure. Why do we hesitate to walk and sing loudly? Very few of us do it, and yet wouldn't the world be a better place if we did? None of us really knows all the words and all of us have unique voices that are here to broadcast joy into the world. Perhaps we are worried about noise pollution, or the few curmudgeons who would grumble at any suggestion of delight, but I wonder if a large part of our reserve has to do with a fear of having our singing voices judged. I know I keep my singing voice secret. This is not a good idea. Somehow our singing voices seem to be directly connected to our souls. This is why we hide them. We don't want our souls to be judged. We carefully close and blockade every window and door to the soul in order to keep it safe. But that safety is not why we are here on Earth. Our souls are here to experience life in all of its tremulous extremities. Our souls are not here to cower in a protected corner. So when we refuse to sing, that refusal is an indication that we are holding our soul too precious. No. Not too precious. Too clingy, but not precious enough. We are not listening to our soul when we shut it up in a closet. We are over-protecting it and cutting it off from its divine purpose--to shine.
This morning brings an immersion experience into The Absolute Value of Mike by Kathryn Erskine (narrated by Noah Galvin). My son and I are listening to the story while he mills around in his Legos. The story unfolds as an allegory of the inadvertent discovery of self-worth. I think about how each of us has this struggle towards self-worth. So often when we consider our worth head-on, we believe we are falling short. Whether this occurs as an artifact of parental expectations or due to the crush of cultural pressures, the result is the same: we are deceived. Our worth or importance is not so easily evaluated. Yes, what we have done for our friends, family, community, country, and world matter. Those externals are truly important, but those external efforts are not the seat of our significance. Our significance is a divine sign—a miracle—of the existence of our unique soul in the world. Our spirit came here to have the physical experience of life, so yes, we need to participate in the world. And yes, all our activities and contributions are part of our sacred path in this world. But the reason we incarnated in this body and this life was not to be "valuable" to the world, not even to be "useful," we are here to dance chaotic to the shrill call of love, piercing the dark cloth of existence.
We have all been here--the place of beginnings. Some of us begin gracefully, others awkwardly, some try not to begin at all. I used to try to be graceful about such things. I would act like I knew what I was doing. Now I try to remember that I will always be beginning, and I invite the awkward little duckling of my soul to waddle right into the midst of any and all situations. Why not? My short steps and flappy feet are only embarrassing to me. They hurt no one. In fact, a duck-like clamorous entry into the waters of life gives others the chance to do better. I call this true grace.