When I was young, I was certain that I knew how the world worked, what my place in it was going to be, and how to right its wrongs. Those were the heady days of passionate belief, blind faith and towering ego. I smile quietly to myself now, looking upon Mary the Younger with the same gentle compassion that I reserve for every other sinner.
I might think that I played the game of life and lost. I am not rich, the great career I mapped out for myself ended in failure, only one of my poems has been published, and ... And ... And...
By no means! Everyone of those little failures achieved a great work: the slaying of my ego. That is, the laying to rest of my false, invented self, that thought those things were important, and wasted years striving for them.
I am thinking of the parallel life that I have that flows silently on beneath all the sound and fury of the striving self. The laughing child, that never stops playing in the woods, and invites me, moment by moment, to wonder at the Presence that is both 'me' and 'Other' within and beyond the boundaries of my consciousness.
I don't understand what this is, that I am trying to explain, and I know that none of you can learn of it from me. Neither caught nor taught, but discovered, uncovered, awakened: maybe in times of ecstasy, maybe in times of great pain.
I think I used to call something less than this, 'god,' but so much less!
I spend a lot of time with religious people, and would count myself among them, but I am aware that I am journeying away from the limited parameters of many of their beliefs, whilst at the same time admiring how deeply held they are, and how beautifully made manifest in work amongst the weak and vulnerable.
It's the striving that marks the difference between them and me. I don't feel the need. I heard Jesus cry, 'It is finished!' from the cross, and believed him. You see, at that moment, the veil in the temple was torn in two. Everything that separated us from Union vanished, the river of life so eloquently described in the Apocolypse, now flows freely through the whole of Creation. Through me, through you.
So, prayer. Not a begging of a diffident divinity for a hearing and a boon. No. Rather, stepping into the living Presence and source of life, and holding those who need it, in loving compassion in this place of great peace - until they have learned to come to it for themselves. The gift to them is not to say prayers for them, but to wait in silence and BE prayer in their stead.
What I understand now, that I could not have appreciated, or even believed, when I was young, is that I am not able to put the world to rights, it will right itself in time. That my place in this world, that which I have tried so poorly to explain, is gift and wonderful, and has nothing to do with wealth, or power, or success.