“….and there was a new voice which
you slowly recognized as your own,
that kept you company as you strode
deeper and deeper into the world,
determined to do the only thing you could do –
determined to save the only life you could save.”
Mary Oliver – “The Journey”
We never cease to be amazed at the things we hold onto unnecessarily. Whether it’s “the stuff of life” (in drawers, closets, files, garages, etc) or in the so-called “cobwebs of our mind” (ideas and beliefs that no longer serve us). Most of us drag around all sorts of excess baggage.
Well, it’s Spring! And, as poet e e cummings said “…the world is mudlucious and puddle-wonderful…!” So perhaps it’s time for some Spring “house-cleaning”. In the context of Big Love, this means reviewing what’s in our spiritual conscious — and letting go of anything and everything that’s holding us back from our good.
We call this “releasing the binds that tie us” — those things that we cling to in spite of evidence, experience, and understanding that whisper to us, “This doesn’t make sense … it’s not working … you know better … let it go and move on.”
That is, of course, the legendary and eternal “still, small voice” — the inner-knowing famously reported in the desert cave by the prophet Elijah. It’s what the Buddha experienced at his moment of enlightenment. And it’s the internal guidance system of our own intuition at work within each of us.
One problem is that voice speaks so softly that it may be hard to discern over all of the clamor going on around us — and amidst the din of old traditions jabbering in our minds. As the saying goes (perhaps especially appropriate for today), “It’s hard to drain the swamp when you’re up to you’re …. [er]….waist in alligators.”
But from time to time (if not continuously), we’ve got to find some quiet time to listen, to truly hear. And as we do, we’re also called to become open and willing to deal with the message honestly and courageously. This is the “work” (as painful and joyous as it may be) of discovering our own truth — in Big Love terminology: “Personal Spirituality”.
Working on and with “Personal Spirituality”— and its accompanying task of “Authentic Living” — is the life-saving experience that Mary Oliver writes about so beautifully in her poem “The Journey.” In it, Mary Oliver reminds us that others (presumably living and dead, including historical traditions we’ve inherited) “tug at our ankles …and cried …with stiff fingers … [and terrible] melancholy…” Those include ingrained beliefs and dysfunctional habits — good targets for a spring housecleaning!
Some of those have stained us — so they may call for serious mental and emotional scouring and elbow grease to rub out. We know this well from our development work in bringing Big Love to this point. In our case, we’re having to create new phrases and vocabulary.
Lately, for example, we’ve been thinking that one way of describing Big Love is that we’re moving beyond “theology” to “life-ology”. When we say that Big Love is about “Living TA-DA Today!”, what we’re saying is that our focus is on life (ultimately expressed as “Big Love”) — not about discussions and debates about God or dogma, etc.
Our hope is that in our journey of discovery about Big Love, we’re bringing forth ideas of presence (“being”) and practice (“doing”) that will support spiritual house-cleaning and development for those who participate in the Big Love community. As Mary Oliver says, we’re called to be determined to save the one life we can — our own. And a good way to start is by releasing the binds that tie us….
Onward and Upward In The Journey Together!
Olivia & Steve