Just Me & God

I aspire to be someone who is content to be alone… just me and God. If we aren’t seeking to be alone (as in “I just want 5 minutes to myself and the kids won’t even let me go to the bathroom in peace!”), then alone has the potential to be sad, uncomfortable or even scary. Many of us aren’t even comfortable with silence and need to have the TV or music on in the background just for companionship.

Here’s the rub, we are relational creatures, but the great mystics (including Jesus) and spiritual teachers of the world have told us over and over again that there is no greater relationship than one with the Divine. They tell us it is the only one we really need to sustain us through any and all of life’s occurrences. It just doesn’t seem to be that easy, clearly they didn’t understand that we like to have a physical presence to talk back to us, to touch us, to hold us and to care for us!

But we’ve all known people who have come to the end of their lives, are without immediate family and friends, and yet exude a sense of joy, love and peace. How do they do that? In Psalm 86, the author cries out, “Teach me your ways, O God, that I might learn to walk with you alone.”

I don’t claim to have all the answers. I have times when I can be alone, just me and God, and content. But is that because my family and friends aren’t gone for good? Is it because that quiet time is such a nice change of pace? Is it because my ego is content at the moment to let my spiritual side take the wheel? Other times my ego slaps my spiritual side back into the dark corner of my consciousness and tells it to stay there because it is time to be worried or anxious or scared or lost or lonely.

The Buddha said, “In the discipline of living alone, it is the silence of solitude that is wisdom. When the solitude becomes a source of delight then it shines in all the ten directions. Listen to the sound of water. Listen to the water running through chasms and rocks. It is the minor streams that make a great noise. The great waters flow silently. This is the sound of wisdom.”

I love this imagery, that somewhere within us is a river running silently and deep filled with the wisdom of the ages if we would just allow ourselves to sink into solitude and silence far enough to find it.

John O’Donohue’s blessing for loneliness urges us not to avoid the silence of being alone, but to sink into it so that it dissolves the dross – the unnecessary stuff of our fears, regrets, pain and worries –  sink so deep into the dark blackness of our selves that we can again find the blue flower that holds the mystical light which will illuminate in you the glimmer of springtime.

In other words, we are never alone, for the voice of Wisdom, the Something More, the Authentic Self, the Ancient One is within us at all times. It is when we are disconnected from our Source that we feel most lost and alone.

Sounds simple, but I know it’s not. Still, I’m working on staying connected that I might be one of those people who sparkle with joy, sing with love and smile with knowing.

 

What are you lookin’ at?

The whole story of the ascension of Jesus has often seemed a bit silly to me. Forty days after his resurrection, Jesus is suddenly lifted up into the clouds and the disciples and people are left standing there watching as his feet grow further and further away. To me it sounds an awful lot like the author of Acts was making sure Jesus competed well with the likes of the great prophet Elijah (who was taken up into heaven on a chariot without dying). Certainly we can’t take this literally, so what is the message of the ascension for us today.

Here’s my thought… Jesus has just spent the classic 40 days (the number is often used symbolically in scripture for the time that God uses to prepare people for a future task). He has given them all that he is able to give them in the way of advice, teachings and wisdom, now they must carry on by themselves. Just like all those who are graduating from high school and college this month, we must all let go of our teachers at some point and head out into the world.

Jesus has been taken up into the cloud, that ancient symbol of the presence of God; he has transcended the things of this world, but he has told us that he is the Way – the universal Way to the Divine – and that they knew the Way (of love, compassion, justice, peace), now it was time to follow it.  Part of what fascinates me about this parable is how the people responded. They stood there and looked up for a long, long time until two “messengers” came along and said, “Hey, what are you guys lookin’ at?”

We all have endings in our lives that are hard to deal with. And so we stand there looking at the door that has just closed hoping that it will open again and wondering how on earth we’ll go on if it doesn’t. Perhaps we need messengers jarring us back to reality by asking us what on earth we’re looking at. Perhaps we need to be reminded that we won’t find the open windows in our lives until we turn around and stop staring at the door. As students of Jesus, we, too, know the Way. We’ve been taught how to live a deep spiritual, fulfilled life in the midst of the craziness of this world. We’ve been shown how to be loving, kind, accepting, non-judgmental, giving and compassionate. We’ve been told to love ourselves as we love others. At some point, when the doors seem to close all around us, we need to open our eyes to the broad expanse of the world that exists for us, begin walking toward it, live true to what we’ve learned, and trust.

Just as Jesus was able to transcend the things of this earth, so too can we transcend them.