Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Transforming Void

Our world is full of distractions. When we feel too crowded-in, we talk in terms of ‘taking a break’, or we might even express a wish to ‘get away from it all’. We might think of such places as being away from the crowd, as offering us a longed-for solitude. But it is perhaps the case that, were we truly to find ourselves in such extreme isolation, we would long for social company, for the daily round of meeting and chatting which we had become conditioned to and which we then would miss. The security of an ‘away-from-it-all’ holiday lies in knowing that it is limited in time, and that we soon-enough will ‘get back to it all’.

But what about those who ‘get away from it all’ and then choose not to return? A previous post on my blog tells the story of Mary of Egypt, a 6th-century hermit who lived in total seclusion in the Jordanian Desert, not for months, nor even for years, but for almost five long decades. Mary was a seeker, a soul on a quest for an encounter with the Spirit, and in this sense her solitary existence was also a pilgrimage: a journey into herself across an inner void perhaps more vast than the great and unforgiving void of the barren wastelands which surrounded her. 

A woman knows this void well. In a world whose social structures, whose very belief systems, are places built upon foundations of male power, women own this inner void as part of their natural estate. From the line of succession of a monarch to that monarch’s eldest son, from a deity who is thought of as being essentially masculine to that deity’s son, from religious beliefs whose texts quite literally spell out that men are a superior creation to women, from places of worship where women must occupy a segregated space that sometimes is actually hidden from the sight of the male congregation: all conspire to drive a woman into her own inner void and claim it as her own. For often-enough it is this emptiness which is the only place that is truly left to her.

But emptiness is power, for a void is never truly ‘empty’. Perhaps we do not need to actually live in a desert or in some other isolated place to experience this sense of pilgrimage, of self-exile. If what is within us, and sometimes what surrounds us, can at times seem like a void which might lead us to bleak despair, then that is perhaps the very moment to remember that it is the seeming emptiness of a void which can be full of the potential for transformation, and that what we experience as a void in our lives is not only not empty, but actually full of promise. The difference is only in our point of view, in how we choose to see the situation.

Who knows what miraculous mandalas Mary might have glimpsed in the red Jordanian sands? When Mary crossed the Jordan to live her life of self-imposed exile she took with her just three loaves of bread. The loaves quickly dried out and became inedible but Mary still managed to survive, for bread lasts but a little while, and yet the sustaining spirit endures.

Photo credit: India Flint

Sunday, January 1, 2017

We Are Made For These Times

One night in my dream I heard a clear voice. The voice was so vivid that the phrase remained with me when I awoke. It had said to me: ‘You are made for these times’.

Belief sometimes comes before understanding. I knew that the words struck a chord with me, for they voiced what I do indeed believe: that I truly am meant to be here now, in this time. But why in such a difficult time? Both in my personal life and in unfolding world events there has been much to cope with. We prefer to make decisions based upon sound judgement and known circumstances, but so often we can find ourselves in a situation where we know so little about what might happen as a result of our decision, but we have to make that decision anyway. 

We make our decision, and we do our best to adapt to the changed circumstances. Adaptation is an existential process, certainly if it is in a phase of not knowing where it all might lead to. What are we trying to adapt to? And how do we grow and bear fruit? To find this out is a challenge which we all face in this day and age. But since adaptation is something that simply 'happens', it is not always possible to play a steering part in this process.

We cannot simply decide when and in which direction we adapt. What we instead can do is to let our soul-light shine and radiate outwards - not only by trying to be 'good' and acting out those ideals we think are positive, but by allowing the intrinsic nature of our inner being to be, unfettered by judgement or opinions. As the world is going through change and transformation we also are undergoing transformation on an individual scale. Even those of us who might not even think of ourselves as being particularly intuitive must now be feeling that something big is happening around us, that we are being driven towards… well, towards what, exactly?

There are many things happening right now which suddenly seem to be moving directly against what we might have hoped for: a more peaceful, more enlightened world – which also is a world in which women and men respect each other on equal terms, and children can be children, and not under-age workers or child soldiers. Now, because of these things, it can be so easy to feel overwhelmed by events, to feel that we are powerless against such a tidal flow of negative forces. We are not.

Our personal power is something which can never be taken from us. It is our personal power that gives us the ability to transform. To realize this is to empower ourselves, and this is when our individual transformation becomes a light to those around us, and in turn to those around them, and the power of this ripple effect expands outwards and transforms the greater world. Yes, these times are difficult, but that is exactly why we are here now. This is the time and this is the place, wherever that place may be, to make our stand and let our soul-light shine, for the darker the shadows, the more fiercely this soul-light will burn. We, all of us, ‘are made for these times’.

I wish you, my dear reader, all the trust and soul-power to shine brightly throughout the coming year.

Painting by Greg Spalenka