The only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability, how we become larger and more courageous and more compassionate through our intimacy with disappearance, our choice is to inhabit vulnerability as generous citizens of loss, robustly and fully, or conversely, as misers and complainers, reluctant and fearful, always at the gates of existence, but never bravely and completely attempting to enter, never wanting to risk ourselves, never walking fully through the door.
David Whyte, Vulnerability
photo aditya maurya
An inner voice asked, ‘What would happen if, in this moment, I didn’t try to do anything, to make anything different?’ I immediately felt the visceral grip of fear and then a familiar sinking hole of shame – the very feelings I had been trying to avoid for as long as I could remember.
But then the same inner voice whispered very quietly, familiar refrain, ‘Just let it be.
photo alex proimos
A nice simple description of what meditation is, but also what the correct position towards life is:
It’s more for me as with going into a forest:
if you sit quietly for a long time,
the life around you emerges.
A little more on wandering in a desert or going through a barren or difficult period in our lives
Not knowing what to do is just as real and just as useful as knowing what to do.
Not knowing stops us from taking false directions. Not knowing what to do, we start to pay real attention. Just as people lost in the wilderness, on a cliff face or in a blizzard pay attention with a kind of acuity that they would not have if they thought they knew where they were. Why? Because for those who are really lost, their life depends on paying real attention. If you think you know where you are, you stop looking.
Western laziness ……consists of cramming our lives with compulsive activity, so there is no time at all to confront the real issues. This form of laziness lies in our failure to choose worthwhile applications for our energy. We are so addicted to looking outside ourselves that we have lost access to our inner being almost completely. We are terrified to look inward, because our culture has given us no idea of what we will find. So we make our lives so hectic that we eliminate the slightest risk of looking into ourselves. … in a world dedicated to distraction, silence and stillness terrify us; we protect ourselves from them with noise and frantic busyness. Looking into the nature of our mind is the last thing we would dare to do.
Even if a person does not observe Lent, the themes are universal and necessary :
Sometimes the etymology of a word can be helpful. Linguistically, lent is derived from an old English word meaning springtime. In Latin, lente means slowly. Etymologically, then, lent points to the coming of spring and it invites us to slow down our lives so as to be able to take stock of ourselves.
Lent has always been understood as a time to metaphorically spend forty days in the desert unprotected by normal nourishment so as to have to face “Satan” and the “wild animals” and see whether the “angels” will indeed come and look after us when we reach that point where we can no longer look after ourselves. For us, “Satan” and “wild animals” refer particularly to the chaos inside of us that normally we either deny or simply refuse to face – our paranoia, our anger, our jealousies, our distance from others, our fantasies, our grandiosity, our addictions, our unresolved hurts…. The normal food that we eat – distracted ordinary life – works to shield us from the deeper chaos that lurks beneath the surface of our lives.
Lent invites us to stop eating whatever protects us from having to face the desert that is inside of us. It invites us to feel our smallness, to feel our vulnerability, to feel our fears, and to open ourselves up the chaos of the desert so that we can finally give the angels a chance to feed us. That’s the ideal of lent, to face one’s chaos.
Ron Rolheiser, Entering Lent
photo: Another believer