"As I went down in the river to pray,
Studying about that good old way,
And who shall wear the starry crown,
Good Lord, show me the way.
O sisters let's go down,
Let's go down, come on down,
O sisters let's go down,
Down in the river to pray..."
- traditional gospel performed by Alison Krauss
I have loved going "Down in the River to Pray"over, and over again, this week. I've allowed myself to return to Fresh Pond, our little estuary just north of Cape Cod, and live in the space of Tuesday's post "so like still water" when I've been able to carve out moments for silent reflection. And since past, present and future coalesce in the beauty of an eternally infinite now, I've been listening for how I can discover from the classroom of yesterday, the lessons of today. And how, through the simple lens of humility, I can let the ego dissolve in ashes of Love's strange, refining fires, and allow another self to evolve towards an "advancing thought", as Mary Baker Eddy suggests in one of my favorite passages from the first page of Miscellaneous Writings 1883 - 1896, and recently shared by two very dear friends:
"Humility is the stepping stone to a higher recognition of Diety. The mounting sense gathers fresh forms and strange fire from the ashes of dissolving self, and drops the world. Meekness heightens immortal attributes only by removing the dust that dims them. Goodness reveals another scene and another self seemingly rolled up in shades, but brought to light by the evolutions of advancing thought, whereby we discern the power of Truth and Love to heal the sick."
[Thanks S. and J. - for your wonderful reminders about this statement...it so perfectly describes exactly how I felt revisiting the pond. ]
One of my favorite spiritual practices for listening, and learning, at the feet of divine Love, is "dictation." Just sitting with pen in hand...poised over the pages of a journal or legal pad...heart open, listening for more love-lessons from the voice of the Great Teacher....and then writing whatever comes.
This week I have returned to Her classroom at the water's edge. It wasn't long before I realized, while writing "...so like still water..." that the lesson, from a rainy morning two dozen years ago, may not have been finished just because I was ready to get back to the house and begin putting into practice some of the threads and strands of practical wisdom I'd been able to glean from that morning's curriculum on stillness.
So this week, I slipped into the back row of Her lecture hall on the shoreline, into that space of stillness, and asked the Teacher for more. And She didn't leave me hungry. One afternoon I listened to Her speak on the subject of "simplicity" and its critical role in my usefulness to Her. Simplicity is something I have been striving to live, with more purpose and practicality, over the course of the last few years. So her subject-matter was timely and meaningful. I now have pages and pages of class notes to ponder, but one recent dictation was so arresting, that I can't help but let it sing me forward on a river of prayer, and share it here with you:
"I am here. I have shown up in this moment, on purpose, to listen and to learn. How important is simplicity to my purpose in serving you?
Simplicity in purpose is not just important to Me, it is essential. Water (H2O) is a simple chemical equation. It is made up of two hydrogen molecules and one oxygen molecule. In this simplicity is the profound breadth of its function and usefulness to Me. A drop of water doesn't seek out elemental change. It doesn't try to be something it is not. It just shows up, simply and authentically, as H2O and therein is its genius. It is always ready for whatever I need it to be. It doesn't decide to be refreshing water, it doesn't try to be clear water, or seek a degree in buoyancy, or get credentialed in purification. It just is what it is...H2O. So it shows up as water.
And since you've asked, an even simpler element is Oxygen. One oxygen molecule is critical to life, but only in its pure simplicity. It is silent, invisible, vital...there is not a breath taken, not a sound made, not a leaf moves without its presence. Hmmm...that sounds like Me, Spirit, doesn't it?
You are my daughter. You are enough. You don't need to be something more, have something more, get something more, want something more. The more purely and simply you just show up as you...in your truth, the more useful you are to me in serving my creation in an infinite number of ways. The more you try to be something, inhabit a role, take on an office, or make a name, the less ready you are for whatever I need you to be at a moment's notice.
You are most useful to me in your simplest "form"...that effortless consciousness of your worth as the reflection of Me, the one and only I AM that is...in all my Allness...in all. The less you drag around with you...names, histories, resumes, degrees, expertise, credentials...the less roles you try to occupy, the more vital, valuable, and useful you are to me. If you will just show up each moment ready to be anything I need you to be, based on the elemental balance of PMSSLTL (Principle, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Life, Truth, Love) to the infinite degree or measure - your one real truth, the more ways I can give you as a covenant...a promise of my Love..."
So, I am just showing up in the river to pray, studying about that good old way, not caring about "who shall wear the starry crown," but each moment asking, "O Lord, show me the way...."
Kate Robertson, CS