"When I am down, and oh my soul, so weary.
When troubles come, and my heart burdened be.
Then I am still and wait here in the silence.
Until You come and sit awhile with me..."
A friend recently suggested, with absolute confidence, that I must be "beyond" the weariness of the soul, which I'd reffered to in the below-copied post from 2010. It was was a favorite of hers, and she saw it as a personal milestone for me. I smiled, and assured her that if there is one thing I have learned, as a spiritual journeyman, is that, for me, it is sooo not personal.
For me, this means that we don't "achieve" some level of personal "beyond-ness" in our wrestlings. The false suggestions that come to us, come irrespective of past milestones, cornerstones, fingerposts, belt notches, or pass/fails...they just come. Sometimes they come from without (a call from a friend or a patient who is facing a challenge and wants our support) and sometimes they from within (a dark night of the soul where morning seems a lifetime away) but they come. And they don't come because we are (personally) spiritually weak, and we don't avoid their attacks because we are, somehow, more spiritually accomplished. They just come. They come, because that's what suggestions do...they suggest themselves...to anyone and everyone.
Any false sense of personal accomplishment, as a spiritual pilgrim, opens me wide up for the belief in hierarchy in the kingdom of heaven...a luxury, that I have learned, I can't afford to indulge...ever. Otherwise, the lives of my dear friends, Jesus, Mary Baker Eddy, Paul, Stephen, etc., don't make sense to me. If it were all about achieving a progressive sense of mastery over the errors of the ego mind (or mortal mind) and its lie of self-determinism, Jesus wouldn't have needed to ask for the cup to be taken from him...just prior to the crucifixion, Mary Baker Eddy would have healed Josephine Woodbury of her betrayal...long before it needed to go to trial, Paul would have never been imprisoned, and Stephen would have walked calmly away from the stoning...amid the jeering crowd of hate-mongers, and gone on to have a successful ministry.
But the suggestion, the one and only "false suggestion" (in all its myriad disguises...sin, disease, death, hatred, self-righteousness, pain) that God is absent, is irrespective of person.
Oh yes, sometimes these suggestions seem absolutely personal...often, heart-bucklingly so, in the cunning way they seem to target our vulnerabilities. They seem to come right after "me," targeting that very "thing" I think I just "can't bear...". Pointedly aiming their daggers at my "anything but this" issue. And other times, the suggestion is more subtly "someone else's" problem...so detached from my life, and history, that I might be tricked into thinking it makes some bizarre sort of sense that, perhaps, they really are dealing with it. But, as I said, it's never personal.
The other day, it was an "anything but this..." suggestion, that drove me to my knees. It felt so personal. It felt so full of historic synapses and connections that it seemed justifiably "mine as it hissed, "see, this issue really is about you. Remember when you faced this before..." But it wasn't so... It never is.
This following post, referenced by a loved reader in an email later that day, helped me. Maybe it will remind you, too, that it is in these moments of darkness, when we feel so personally targeted, that the light of the universal and impartial Christ...that glimmering glimpse of holiness within us all...shines most resplendently at the core of our being. And remember, you are never alone in the darkness...never, ever alone... Sometimes it's nice to have someone nearby to remind you that it's not about you..it's not yours...or mine. It never is.
"And my heart burdened by..."
My heart was burdened this morning. Overwhelmed beyond measure. I thought I could push through the tightness in my shoulders, the strain in my step...so I read, studied, took calls, prayed, checked in on my Facebook office, and posted an inspiring quote by Mary Baker Eddy that had meant so much to me through a long night of prayer. And lastly, I'd uploaded a Youtube video I'd been led to view earlier by a thoughtful friend. But the personal pall persisted. My husband remained a gentle, willing support, but even he knew...what I had yet to discover in the midst of such heaviness...that what I needed to hear, whatever it was that I needed to hear, had to come directly from God...and from God, alone.
The work...the joy of serving...was my peaceful resting place. In "the office" it was all so clear. Inspired truths that felt so alive and substantive in praying for others, were warm companions and reliable colleagues there, in the sanctuary of books, and prayers, and gratitude.. In the fellowship of our common purpose, all was light. But whenever I seemed to get up from my desk, walk out of my "praying for others" door, and into the space of "my life, my family, my decisions," those truths somehow felt distant and flat, like two dimensional cardboard cutouts of superheroes.
And, as much as I established my spiritual ground, and claimed that God was in charge of all the affairs of my life and the lives of those I loved, I still felt something akin to a cold, gray, stone of sorrow resting on my heart. Too many questions, decisions, choices, demands. I didn't even know where to begin in sorting them out, and prioritizing all that needed to be addressed metaphysically. Where should I start listening for direction, first? What should I pray about next?
The clarity I felt "in the office" seemed to be spectre-like, just out of reach, and ungraspable in my kitchen.
That was where this Youtube clip of Selah's "You Raise Me Up" found me...in the kitchen. The kettle was whistling and I'd gotten up to steep a pot of tea, when I heard the next clip in the Selah playlist coming from my office. I poured boiling water over the Ginger Peach tea in the teapot, and returned to my desk while it steeped. And that's when I heard:
"...You raise me up to walk on stormy seas.
I am strong when I am on your shoulders.
You raise me up to more than I can be..."
And, as Mary Baker Eddy says:
"Tears flood the eyes, agony struggles, pride rebels, and a mortal seems a monster, a dark, impenetrable cloud of error; and falling on the bended knee of prayer, humble before God, he cries, "Save, or I perish." Thus Truth, searching the heart, neutralizes and destroys error."
I fell on my knees beside my bed, letting my tears dissolve the false veneer of control, to shake and shatter the shell of personal sense...me, my, mine...allowing it to fall in shards of vanquished "self" from the core "me", the innocent and willing "I AM" within my heart...and:
"listened for His voice
lest my footsteps stray.."
"My heart bent low before the omnipotence of Spirit, ...a tint of humility, soft as the heart of a moonbeam, mantled the earth. Bethlehem and Bethany, Gethsemane and Calvary, spoke to my chastened sense as by the tearful lips of a babe. Frozen fountains were unsealed. Erudite systems of philosophy and religion melted, for Love unveiled the healing promise and potency of a present spiritual afflatus." - Eddy
In that moment of divine care, my tears changed from the hot, aching sting of want and woe, to the gentle bathing waters of promised peace.
I'd asked God for answers about things that were in the realm of tomorrow, down-the-road, and someday when...and his message was:
"I cannot give you tomorrow, I can only give you Myself, and you know Me, you know that My name is I AM, not 'I will be,' or 'I was.' I am giving you this very moment on your knees with Me, I am giving you today...and isn't today beautiful? Don't you have all you need...every answer you are hungering for...for today?"
And the heavy stone of carrying around a burdened ego was lifted from my shoulders, and replaced with humility, "as soft as a moonbeam."
I got up from that blessed posture of "on my knees," grateful for every tear that had fallen, and dried in salty trails upon flushed cheeks. I'd been given a glimpse, a window, a portal into the living power of a simple statement of spiritual fact...the very quote I'd prayed with all night long, for someone else in need, and had posted earlier on Facebook:
"Each successive period of progress
is a period more humane and spiritual."
- Mary Baker Eddy
I rose from "on bended knee" with a more humane sense of my brothers' (and sisters') journeys. With a very here-and-now appreciation for Bethany, Bethlehem, Gethsemane, and Calvary...oh yes, especially for Calvary. And with a more spiritual sense of the power of The Word...a present understanding of my Father's love for me, and mine, and most importantly, for all.
He is, constantly, raising each of us up...from our knees...so that we can go forward in service to one another, and thereby serve Him.
otherwise, I remain, on bended knee...yours,
Kate Robertson, CS