How has my week been? – Profoundly up and down. Gloriously happy and terribly sad. Tremendously hopeful and naggingly worrisome.
What am I up to? – See the words below, if you will.
from Prayer Is An Egg
“Then you pray the prayer that is the essence
of every ritual: God,
I have no hope. I am torn to shreds. You are my first and
last and only refuge.
Don’t do daily prayers like a bird pecking, moving its head
up and down. Prayer is an egg.
Hatch out the total helplessness inside.”
by Rumi, from The Soul of Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks, 2001
When I first read the poem above, I thought, “Whoa! I don’t like that! I don’t think I’m totally helpless.”
Years later, I read Julian of Norwich’s discussion of the known world—the Universe, I would say—as a hazelnut. Small, vulnerable, finite, the whole thing, the whole Universe, a hazelnut. The hazelnut is held in the hand of God. Protected, kept in being, created and sustained.
Then I learned about Schleiermacher, the German theologian, who wrote about the essence of religious feeling as gefühl, a sense of absolute dependence.
And I read and spoke and embodied in ritual the Charge of the Star Goddes,s Who says, “My body encircles the Universe.” Her body is not only the stuff of the Universe, but that which encircles it, holds it, keeps it in being.
And I began to think that perhaps I needed to give these ideas some credence. Persian, English, German, and so many more. What do they have to say to me? To you?
These concepts have made me uncomfortable. I am a white American, middle-class, lesbian woman. I have worked hard—and continue to work hard—with concepts like self-love and self-care. I have struggled and continue to struggle with dependence on others as the origin of my meaning.
But it is not other human beings on whom I am called to be dependent. And it is not the finite for which I thirst so passionately.
I did not create myself, and I thirst for my beginning. Not the womb, but the Beginning.
I am a point in time, history and present converging, in what process theology might call concrescence. (Though honestly I haven’t read enough process theology to be sure I’m using that word correctly.) Everything that is in me—the space, the bacteria, the mitochondria, the muscle, the aching knees, the middle-aged eyes, the consciousness, oh yes, the consciousness—is here as it is not only due to what has come before but because of what comes with it. The people talking in the coffeehouse, the music in my ears, the notes I am reading that my recent-past self has left for me.
“You are my first and last
and only refuge.”
Oh my God, yes. Oh my Goddess, my Beloved, yes.
The only refuge.
I intuit this gem, this jewel of wisdom, but I do not fully understand it. Can you help me?
I think of the idea of freedom from the Wheel of Rebirth—freedom from be-ing and dissolution of the wave of identity into the sea of no-thingness.
I think of the One, the One outside of being and finitude. The One who is not is, who is “no-thing.” The One who maintains and keep the being, the “things”, the “living” in being. The life that is eternal as the living come and go.
I think of my dependence, my absolute dependence on life for my living. On life for my breath. On life for my heartbeats.
I think of my utter limitedness, in-spired and en-couraged only by the movements of energy through the beingness of the Universe.
I think of many things today. What are you thinking of?