A friend sent me this beautiful letter recently:
“I was swimming this afternoon – weeping and swimming, which is something I haven’t done for a while, and trying to get myself together. I was struggling with my fears and my anger and my profound sadness, and then I started to focus just on the swimming. The slow, steady passage through the water – as if I was shedding an outer skin as I dove down into the water with each new breath. And then I had this feeling: ‘This is unconditional love,’ and I felt a completely impersonal calm. I had a similar feeling last night, as if the pain was slipping further away and an impersonal calm held me in the balance.”
I’ve been thinking so much about friends, family, people all over the world experiencing profound change, sometimes severe challenges, and hard-won renewal that comes with seeking and yielding to deeper answers.
I came across this passage from Psalms. It’s one I’ve read more times than I can count. Today it spoke differently to me:
“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God” (42:11).
Too often I’ve gotten caught on the “cast down” and “disquieted” parts, as in: “feeling so cast down ... so disquieted ... OK ... (deep breath) ... now hope in God ...” And the journey to do so can feel like a slow, slippery slope out of the swamp and up a muddy bank.
But today I read it so differently. The words nearly jumped off the page at me. Why are you cast down? Why disquieted? Almost as if to say: How can you be? You know where your hope lies! You shall not, will not, cannot be deprived of praising the infinite goodness of God, the source and presence of all life and peace and health and joy right here.
It made me think of a line in a song by Kate Wolf: “You must give yourself to love ...”
And it made me ask myself this question: What am I giving my thoughts, my moments to?
For me disquiet is really about mental neutrality – an absence of real thinking, conscious clarity, a lulling; a passive acceptance of whatever thought comes my way. A state of mind that invites disturbance, darkness, confusion. It marks a need for awakening, regrouping, to say, “OK so where am I at? And what’s really true here? Am I just going along with the flow of whatever junk comes my way in thought?”
This morning I opened the Bible to Ezek.13:22: “[W]ith lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad.”
Lies that would blind us to the good at hand; get us to turn on ourselves; doubt the convictions we hold in our hearts; distrust the power, presence, and impulse to act on what we know is true.
The next time you’re tempted to feel sad or even if you feel you’re already drowning in a sea of sadness – take a look at where your thought, heart, soul is anchored. Is it awash at sea? Gather it. Gather yourself. Gather your goodness, your pure heart, your love for all that is right. Rally there. Bit by bit you’ll find your footing – bedrock in the midst of stormy seas. You’ll find yourself rising, walking over the waves of doubt and darkness, gathering strength as you go.
“Give yourself to love,”
It will not render you vulnerable
It will steady your heart
Strengthen your knees
Help you remember your wings
And how they know how
To read the wind
And like the Psalmist from long ago
Begin to feel that song of
The light that faces down the dark
I do hope in God
The health of my countenance
“To-day [may your] soul only sing and soar. [May] an [ever] increasing sense of God’s love, omnipresence, and omnipotence enfold [you]” (Mary Baker Eddy, “The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 174).
Adapted from the author’s blog, ‘emerge gently...’
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