There are times when I think that healing has much in common with archaeology. Sometimes it comes after a lot of digging about, and from being able to see even a chip of memory from the past to bring understanding.
And understanding holds so many keys for things like gaining perspective, forgiveness, letting go.
I am the first, and fastest, person in the world to label me as weird. But as I go about picking up the pieces of vases that have fallen off their shelves, or pushing back in the drawers that haven’t been closed tightly, as the swollen moments of my life find relief from the attention that I am giving them, the strain of having lived my life is being eased. I can feel breath in some of the places in my soul that have been closed up as tightly as I could close them.
Growth comes slowly to my life. But at least it does come.
It may come as a surprise for you to learn that I have been a mystic pretty much all of my life. Shocking, I know.
But because of that I have lived, along with this one, in another world. I have had the world of trees and people and bee stings. And I have had the world of God. Very different places.
And in my world of God, I developed my own “language.” This is easier to explain. If you read the writings of Hildegard of Bingen, or Teresa of Avila, or John of the Cross, you will discover fairly quickly on that each have their own way of explaining their experiences with God. The understandings that came to them through God.
And it’s all pretty much unintelligible, unless you can learn to sort of relax that part of your brain that wants something solid to grab onto. Unless you are willing to reread a passage as many times as it takes to understand it. Unless you are willing just to trust the author and accept what he is writing.
I’ve been relating to Thomas Aquinas a lot these days, and a few months before his death he began to have some mystical experiences. After a life-time of writing Aristotelian-styled theological arguments, he announced that he would never write another word. I’ve read many different explanations of why he declared this, but my explanation is that once confronted with God’s “language,” he realized that he could not just zip off a million words a day explaining it.
That it is, for one thing, a very private language, written for you alone. And one of the first things I felt when confronted with the challenge of “sharing” my “knowledge” with others was a complete reluctance to open my mouth (or pen) because I had no idea how to translate it all into ordinary vernacular.
So here we are at my beginning point: I have my own language of God.
I will make a metaphor here: pretend that I am the only mute person on Earth. And that I have developed my own form of sign language that no-one else on Earth knows. It’s just for my own use.
Then one day, I walk into a room, and there someone is who not only smiles at me, but starts signing to me in my language.
That is what happened to me not so many years ago.
One day I found myself in an environment that, for no reason that I could understand, had changed completely. Where I had once been nothing more than an ordinary fixture, of a sudden, I was the object of very real attention.
Someone else had taken the time and energy to understand me to the point of knowing my “language,” and making sure that I knew it.
This had two major problems.
The first was that I was not accustomed to sharing my “other” world with anyone else, or, if I did, I did it in a very minimal way and on my own terms. That is to say, I was the one to decide when and with whom I would share anything.
Now here there was someone clearly very interested in being part of my God world.
But I had not put out a welcome mat, and his attentions were very much unwanted by me.
The other serious problem was that although he obviously knew the “language,” he did not understand the meanings imbued in it. He did not understand the world enough in order the communicate meaningfully.
In fact, his communications were gibberish.
If I signed, “I’m hungry,” I would get the cryptic response of, “There are seven alligators crossing the road.”
Another metaphor: it was as though a two-year-old had taken over the running of a high mass. That is how little meaning the exchanges were to me.
And I kept wanting to point out that, in spite of being a mystic, I was still a woman, highly capable of speech. And if he just wanted to talk with me about it all, he could just ask and we could sit down and have a conversation over a nice cup of tea.
But I had received a most unusual vision just before all this started: while most visions are either direct or implied commands (I am God, after all, and I’m telling you this, so listen, learn, and apply as directed), I was asked if I would consider serving this person.
And after noticing the difference in being asked to do something, I thought, this would be an easy assignment. What would this person want of me?
And then I see him again, and he’s all about knowing me. As me.
And I felt imposed on, intruded, manipulated, invaded, broken into, meddled with, trespassed, infringed upon, and, well, I think you get the point.
And now for some perspective.
It has taken this time of seeing what was happening back there to understand a number of things. First, that he did not mean to make me feel any of the things I felt. That he in no way realized that all he had done was set off my trip-wire alarm, and in no real way connected with me.
And the reason for my feelings I have also begun to understand.
It’s because our two worlds are so, so different.
In this world, we can trip up, make mistakes, scream incoherently, shake our booty, roll our eyes, and do all sorts of things. In the world of God, there’s, well, kneeling. And there’s reverence. And, most of all, there’s silence.
In the absolute world of God, there is Truth, and Purity. And there’s silence.
And the truth is absolute. There’s no fudging, or halving it. There just is.
And in its sacredness, it’s no place to bring our spit, or our prejudices, or our spilled milk.
When we bring what we bring in prayer to God, we must do it in truth. And with an open heart and an open hand. We must learn acceptance, that what we receive from God is what we have truly asked for, even if we didn’t know it.
It’s not a place for regrets or recriminations.
And through this defining of the worlds, I came to feel how lucky we are to be able to live in this world, if only for a while.
It’s here that we can tend to a child with chicken pox, or repress our smiles at the mutterings of our family around the Thanksgiving table, or even watch a Super Bowl game that has no lights shining on it.
It’s a world that challenges us in ways that God can’t. It’s a world that challenges our senses, from the giddiness of wedding ceremonies, to the grieving at the loss of our beloved beagle. It’s a world of confusion and destruction and growth.
And while I have, through the creation of this blog and other acts, come to a willingness of letting others close to me in my world of God, I give thanks to Eve for taking such a big bite out of that Apple and letting us all trip over the roots of the tree of knowledge and smacking our noses on our overwhelming ignorance.
After all, without that knowledge, why would we so much appreciate God and all that is in his world?