We have spent a lifetime fleeing our pain. We have turned away from the rivers of sadness. We have pushed away the furnace of anger. We have denied the shame. We have rejected the depression. We started running and we never stopped. We thought we could outrun it, the pain. If we just kept running we would run to a place where it didn’t follow. We would run ourselves into freedom.
So many times
I have thought I wanted
an answer to life’s problems.
A way out of the struggle
Both the doctor on the plane and the triage nurse asked me,
‘Are you an anxious person?’
and I bristled at the words
because, yes, I have known anxiety,
That much-loved question, ‘So, what do you do?’ is supposed to be a request for information about our working life. But a few years ago I think an alternative and accurate response might have been something like:
I remember how I used to stand in the queue at the supermarket checkout, a never-ending stream of judgement flowing through about the rubbish people were buying, about the state of their bodies. It was disgusting to me. They were disgusting to me.
And all the while I was struggling with my own disordered eating.
I was sitting by the sea watching the sun go down when I read a poem that moved me so deeply, I found a few soft tears rolling down my cheeks. It is by St. Teresa of Avila and is called He Desired Me So I Came Close.
"He desired me so I came close.
No one can near God unless He has
prepared a bed for
A thousand souls hear His call every second,
but most everyone then looks into their life's mirror and
says, 'I am not worthy to leave this sadness.'
When I first heard His courting song, I too
looked at all I had done in my life and said,
'How can I gaze into His omnipresent eyes?'
I spoke these words with all my heart,
but then He sang again, a song even sweeter,
and when I tried to shame myself once more from His presence
God showed me His compassion and spoke a divine truth,
'I made you, dear, and all I make is perfect.
please come close, for I
How many times have you felt yourself unworthy?
On the outside of love?
Believing that everyone else deserves a place at the table but you?
Felt shame so heavy that you are certain you are the worst - the absolute worst in the whole of history?
Locked in an identity of a separate self, swimming around in a world full of other separate selves, these thoughts and feelings are inevitable. But come to know the deeper truth of who you are - the true Self - and you will also come to know this:
You are never - never - beyond the reach of Love.
The separate self will read those words and think them cheap and empty. It will insist that you are somehow different, that the details of your particular life are ten shades darker than any other human being and, therefore, not worthy of inclusion. Such games the separate self plays!
Beyond your personality, beyond anything you have done or not done in your life, beyond any stories you have about who you are, there is something lasting and real and true. That something is what we call Love and it is the true identity of every living thing on this planet.
So make no mistake, you are never - never - beyond the reach of Love.
Love and courage,
I woke up this morning feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and agitated. By the time I'd had a shower and got dressed, I was positively boiling over with tension.I put two blocks on my yoga mat, sat down and closed my eyes. Almost immediately, a phrase rose up:
"I feel overwhelmed right now, and that's ok."
It was the middle of an afternoon and I'd sat down on my yoga mat to close my eyes for five minutes of stillness. No sooner had I closed my eyes than an image formed in my mind's eye. A weary looking little girl wandering by a stream, a heavy-looking backpack on her back.
How much time, on average, do you think you spend worrying about the future? Anything from worrying about how you'll pay your bills at the end of the month, to why your boss wants that meeting with you on Friday, to how you'll cope if you get sick.
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