Or not. Sometimes, living the surrendered path is a pain. A. Major. PAIN. Sometimes in a very literal sense. It puts me in mind of a story I heard of St. Theresa of Avila: St. Theresa was out for whatever reason one day in the rain. A carriage went by or she fell or some such. Either way, she ended up soaked in mud. When she asked God what the deal was, He answered “This I save for my special ones,” to which she then replied “It is no wonder You haven’t more.” Of course this isn’t as lovely or witty as the tale when I heard it, but you get the gist. And I can seriously relate to St. Theresa’s feelings of the moment. Like “SERIOUSLY, GOD?!? SERIOUSLY?!?”
There are times I feel like the deeper my devotion to living in alignment with the Divine, the more troubles get heaped on me, the more bs I end up having to slog through, the more I am wounded by just being alive. I could armor up against it if 1) I could remember how to do that 2) armor wasn’t so darn uncomfortable and 3) the Divine wouldn’t just send something along that completely shattered my armor to uselessness. It can be a challenge. One not meant to be got through without the Divine, but it would be nice if there were stretches of ease and relaxation instead of what feels like a constant onslaught of hardship and meanieness. It makes me wonder if the Saints aren’t all stooped over like they are in icons because of a little too much Divine TLC.
I read somewhere that the periods of utter peace and bliss come after years of really hard stuff. Surely I must be up for some kind of mid-way quietude by now? I mean GEEBERZ! I can see why so many people say “Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll stick to the normal way of living.” A lot of this spiritual stuff is ouch when you really commit. But then, committing to a relationship of any kind is going to be ouch at some point in some places. It’s all in the process of rubbing each others’ pointy parts smooth. In the process, you’re occasionally going to poke each other, make each other bleed, cut each other up. Perhaps the difference lies in that you’re both human. With the Divine, it’s not exactly clear where my pointy parts are poking. Sometimes it feels like the pointy part is all of me and I’m being rubbed and tumbled until my soul is raw, scraped out and bleeding. And I must be the world’s biggest idiot because instead of pulling away and saying “See ya!” I go deeper, begin another practice meant to take me closer to the Divine. Sometimes I wonder if my mom dropped me on my head a few times as a baby or maybe I fell out of a window or something.
There are moments of sweetness and peace. I have experienced an inner calm so still and unflappable, days were the ordinary is so heartbreakingly beautiful, days where I effortlessly see radiance in the beggar, the businessman and the sulky teen on the street alike. And it is this that tempts me to endure the hardships, to drag myself that much closer in the midst of some of the biggest storms and darkest darks. Believe me, it gets REALLY dark sometimes. Such darkness it feels surreal, the force of it pressing hard against my face; deafening darkness where I fear my eardrums will burst from its pressure. I long for human companionship and am told this stretch I must walk alone.
I am tired and ragged and beaten. (Cue those three Revolutionary soldiers limping and hobbling along the road with drum and flute – only without music. Hmmm…. Maybe cue zombies instead.) I want to quit, entirely give up but don’t know the shape of such. I reach for the hand of the Divine, name it Beloved and stumble blindly on in not-so-perfect trust, but trusting nonetheless.