Though I may not know where I’m going,
I am not lost, I am exploring.
~ Jana Stanfield ~
Some times our lives are crystal clear. We’re confident and purposeful, moving in the direction of our dreams. At other times, we might feel uncertain and confused, “stumbling around like we’re monkeys in a blizzard” (as a good friend of ours often says).
At times like these, it’s really important to connect with who we are — in all of our radiant glory — to regain our orientation. In her song “I’m Not Lost, I’m Just Exploring”, singer-songwriter Jana Stanfield proclaims her grounded-ness by affirming,
And though I get discouraged, I won’t be turning back
I have joy as my compass and faith as my map.
Within Big Love’s framework, having a faith-filled map to point at is a function of seeing ourselves in “right relationship” — to ourselves, to others, and to the universe as a whole.
We refer to this as “Living Contextually In Big Love” — which consists of three perspectives: Personal, Communal, and Universal. The objective for each of us is to know, as precisely as possible, how we relate as an individual to each of these three perspectives.
Let’s explore each perspective further:
At the “Personal” level, we seek to discover clarity on all the various aspects of our individuality and uniqueness. We explore our bodies, feelings, intellect, sociability, and spiritual nature. We learn ways to bring the various “parts” of ourselves into harmony, balance, and coherence. We become clear about our identity and our “enough-ness” (and, as impressive as we may find ourselves, we also maintain humility!). The more we “know ourselves”, the more empowered we are — and the more we are “ready for take-off” to do what is ours to do.
As human beings, however, we are innately “social animals”. Our “Communal” interactions provide meaning, validation, and support. While instinctively we may feel urges of competitive aggressiveness, our success is ultimately based on cooperation and collaboration (expressed in most wisdom traditions as “The Golden Rule”). The more clearly we understand the dynamics of our interactions, interconnections, and interdependencies with others, the more we can join in co-creative endeavors — and be in the flow of giving and receiving support. Our various “communities” provide us a place to explore and grow — and to find a fuller and richer sense of self.
Finally, we are called to see ourselves as part of the greatest whole possible. This means becoming clear on our relationship to the Cosmos itself, i.e. have a “Universal” perspective. For Big Love, we’ve coined the term “Omni-Essencent” to represent the idea of the unified nature of creation — one presence, knowing, and power which provides structure and vitalizes the Universe. Additionally, we are called to place ourselves in the context of an evolving, dynamic, and expanding creation — one with irreversible directionality that provides a sense of meaningful purpose. As part of this on-going creative process, it is also important to be consciously aware of the sensitive, finely-tuned ecological balances (often referred to today as the “integral” nature of things) — and the important role that everyone and everything plays as participants in the on-going story of evolution.
Let’s try to make some sense of all of this by going back to the idea of exploring. In her essay “Do You Think There Is Anything Not Attached By Its Unbreakable Cord To Everything Else?” poet Mary Oliver couches the process of living in context this way:
In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly
existed. I had to go out in the world and see it and hear it and react to it
before I knew at all who I was, what I was, and what I wanted to be.
Wordsworth studied himself and found the subject astonishing.
Discovering ourselves is all about identifying our relationships — to ourselves (Personal), to others (Communal), and the world (Universal). We anchor to those as reference points, learning about them, deciding how to improve them, and celebrating and enjoying them.
We ask our questions, test our answers, and learn. What part of “me” do I need to work on? How can I help my group work better? What needs healing in society, the environment, or in the practice of loving-kindness in our world?
This is the journey of a life-time — an adventure of exploration. There are no guarantees, but as long as we maintain our perspective we are not lost. As Jana Stanfield sings:
I walked a mile with sorrow, I walked a mile with joy
and now I’m less afraid of either one.
For every tear I’ve cried, there’s a smile that I have earned,
for every mile I walked there’s a lesson I learned.
And then, because she lives in context, she affirms: “I am not lost, I am exploring…”
While results may vary it’s OK to try this at home (or out in public, for that matter). So let’s just do it — filled with confidence, zeal, and enthusiasm! We may not know exactly where we’re going, but we’ll not be lost, we’ll just be exploring!
Here’s to Living In Big Love’s Greater Context!
Olivia and Steve
* from A Sense of Wonder, Brian Doyle, Ed., (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books), 2016, p. 24
Link to Youtube vide of Jana’s song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vwekshBtyg
It’s Your Turn!
Here are some alternative questions to contemplate in the spirit of this blogpost:
- What am I and the world like — what’s our nature?
- How can I best “deal” with the world?
- How does the world (in all of its various component entities) regard me? What feedback is it giving to me?
- Based on observations and feedback, what’s the world really like — and what are the best choices and actions I might take — right here and now?
Suggestion — consider these questions in very tangible terms (as opposed to esoterically or rhetorically.)
Big Love News
This is “Spring Forward” week — set your chronometers (watches, clocks, timers, etc) forward an hour in the wee hours of Sunday morning to be in sync with Daylight Savings Time!
Another quote relevant to today’s message:
“When you know who you truly are, there is an abiding alive sense of peace. You could call it joy because that’s what joy is: vibrantly alive peace. It is the joy of knowing yourself as the very life essence before life takes on form. That is the joy of Being – of being who you truly are.”
~ Eckhart Tolle ~