Big eyes against the white, big eyes beneath the lights. And no one seems to feel it, but I do. Our faces to the wind, my heart against my skin. Tonight, I’m gonna find something true. -Brooke Fraser, New Year’s Eve lyrics
There’s something terribly troubling about being less mature than your surroundings demand. Almost like you’ve teleported into a different body, a different world, a different expectation, all of which serves as a somewhat quasi-cage for the craziness stirring inside your brain. The same craziness you try not to keep in because, Lord only knows where it belongs. Unsettled because you don’t feel like you’re supposed to be settled… and yet, expecting to grow out of it, because you, in fact, feel all of the above. Waiting for so much, but not committing to it–not owning the wait but only owning the questions. So, how can a tree grow without sinking roots into its own dirt? How much comfort, progress, or settlement can come from only possessing proof that you don’t know things? Not much.
Living and accepting our own reality will not feel very spiritual. It will feel like we are on the edges rather than dealing with the essence. Thus most run toward more esoteric and dramatic postures instead of bearing the mystery of God’s suffering and joy inside themselves. But the edges of our lives–fully experienced, suffered, and enjoyed– lead us back to the center and the essence. -Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs
I’ve lived the majority of my life on the edges of what is actually happening. The edges that unanswered questions create, the comfort of deeming uncertainty as a spiritual mechanism to advance the maturation process. There’s value in the questioning, no doubts about that. But only in the sense that they lead you back to the core, the “essence” of the circumference. If not, the alternative is to continue running around the circle you’ve created and calling it some form of holy discontentment in your own mind. The blackhole of uncertainty can be never-ending. And here’s what I’ve learned about it: it’s real. It exists. You’ll never have a grip on it. So, dig in and grow in spite.
As I’m so clumsily stumbling through this [insert cliche’ term of choice] time in life, I’m learning that what I’m really looking for is not something that is found. It’s something that finds. As one of my favorite bands so eloquently puts it, it comes easy–like mist on a ridge (you’re welcome, Lone Bellow fans). No, we don’t get to answer 90% of the questions we conjure up. Big whoop– we still have the privilege of affirmation that rests in things unconditionally true. And even if it’s disguised as cliche’ optimism, its overuse does not change its accuracy. Everything (true and untrue) does belong– and accepting that is much more spiritual than it feels.
What we spend our time and efforts focusing on magnifies. Some author/speaker/preacher said that somewhere (I’m clearly awesome at details), and it really took hold not because it sounds pretty, but because it proves itself. Focusing on questions that don’t have answers yields cautious growth, which is arguably an oxymoron…which is inarguably a problem. However, focusing on what we do know– preferably something true– yields dealing with actual, essential reality. Is that necessarily fun? Probs not. But it’s better than tracing and retracing the circumference of who you are, where you are, and what you’re doing with both.
The punches and blows life delves out can’t take away the healing nature of truth. And yet, if we don’t guard it, how will we continue to own it? Is everything true good? No. Entertaining that question itself is remiss. However, when we really narrow down the things we know… our efforts will inevitably yield an incredibly unbalanced scale in good truth’s favor. But in order to get there, we have to enter into Mr. Rohr’s mentioned “essence.” Past the buffers built by redundant questions, excuses, and instabilities.
I’ve felt much less like myself in the past few months than I think I ever have, which is concerning for several reasons. But I think I’ve only been a shell of myself because I’ve only focused on the shell of myself. Everything has felt less than real and more than foreign, inside and out–but I think I’m more to blame than anything else. I’m somewhat embarrassed to say that a lack of maturity has produced a very shallow level of thinking. Simply addressing where and who I am right now as reality allows me to deal with it. And I need to do that.
I’m not typically one for New Year’s resolutions… but I am one for reminding myself of my focus, my calling, and my purpose before I start every day. And the beautiful thing about all of that is they are true regardless of my circumference. They are true unconditionally because they are all rooted in something true. Or even better, someone true. I hope and pray that it doesn’t always take a new year to remind me of that. Per advice of a much wiser friend, perhaps I should start owning that instead of the questions.
So, here’s to Richard Rohr for challenging the way things are. Here’s to owning the essence instead of the circumference. And here’s to Brooke Fraser for writing and singing a powerful song that echoed what I needed to hear… something true, if you will. I’m looking forward to much more of that.
Caffeinated as always,