Sunday, August 25, 2019

Pain-full lessons learned, and still to be learned

"To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.  To live fully is to be always in no man's land, to be experiencing each moment as a new and completely fresh.  To live is to willingly die again and again." (Pema Chadron) Looking back on my own past wanderings on life's trail, and also being able to have the privilege of sharing the slog of others, I can suggest this sums up all life and lives.

To be "fully alive" is a very sincere wish, but are we ready to pay the price.  In life I have found anything of real deep, deep value does not come without a cost to our egocentric egos.  It is only as I let go, ever so slowly, and reluctantly of my selfishness and self centeredness am I able to enter a life that I am destined to enjoy and celebrate with others.  I was beginning to hear the words "let go. " "To let go" sounds so easy.  Just two small words.  Two words I was unable to utter for many, many years.  These words, I am so sorry to say did not show up in my sermons and homilies in those early days.T o "let go;" was not in my vocabulary.  It was a foreign thought.  A bad thought, which like all bad thoughts were not to be entertained. (Did you ever hear the story of the guy that went to confession and confessed that he had bad thoughts? The priest ,following the accepted procedure of the time, asked the usual question, "Did you entertain them?" No, Father, they entertained me.  Old memories for some?)  Over the years things began to change.  As the oil of ordination began to dry and fade away, the idealism of the seminary was blown to hell and back.  I was then faced with real realities of spiritual life.  I entered, for the first time, a time and a place of real crisis.  There the process of letting go became necessary for survival.

The character for crises in an Oriental language is the same as the character for opportunity.  I was given the opportunity to grow through pain but first I had to let go.  I had to let go or die.  I had to let go of the "easier softer way" of dealing with all of life, and it's challenges.  There was another way.   I had a little, an ever so little inkling of recognizing and listening to that quiet whisper which saved my life.  It was then I began to come alive.  It is only in hindsight that I am now beginning to see, and accept that was the beginning of my life long pain-full process of birthing a truly fully alive human being.  I am not there yet, and I never will get to know what it means for Joe to be fully human and fully alive.  All I can do, as we all can do, is allow ourselves to be led, as we live our moment to moment living, into the mystery of who we are, and there discover the real presence of, The Mystery.  Out of this new relationship came the beginnings of a journey I am beginning to understand. "We live life looking forward but understand it looking backwards."  As I write, clarity breaks through as the dawning of a new day.  Each dawning is a sign of hope for us as individuals and for all of creation.  "Creation continues" and we have an essential vital part to play.  How awe-full, wonder-full.

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