Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sense of Surrender

‘God, whose love and joy are everywhere, can’t come to visit unless you aren’t there.’…………………….Angelus Silesius

It’s a great paradox, isn’t it? How can God visit us if we are not there? The human mental mode of grasping the act of an union involves physicality, that is you need two distinct entities in space and at the same time for an union to take place. But God, who transcends space and time, does not operate in these dimensions. It is only we humans, who operate in space and time, need these dimensions. It is for us to move beyond these restrictive dimensions through an intuitive process of an utter surrender. This surrender involves a process of dismantling our mental process of concretizing to the grosser level our existential reality.
In order to be who we truly are, we have to somehow surrender ourselves, to a state of non being.

This sense of surrender happens too in human relationships. Imagine two persons deeply in love and sharing a precious moment. A conversation is taking place, verbalizing the beautiful Sunset and the display of vibrant colours in the horizon. Both are very eloquent in their description and poetic in their rendering. Suddenly overcome by emotion one partner embraces the other and gives a loving kiss. I can bet there would be total silence. All chatter ceases. This is surrender or a loss of identity which had existed before and which is absolutely necessary for any conversation or dialogue.

We are loved. We are found. I think this is very much what we are offered in the spiritual life, a relationship with God in which we transcend all that nonsense about ourselves, all that chatter about not being good enough and how scary and awful everything is. If we allow it to happen, God holds us and transforms us like a lover.

A Christian contemplative who has actively pursued a spiritual life for 30 years tells this story:

‘I had always been moved by the longing of mystics like St Theresa of Avila or St John of the Cross. I spent a year at a convent after a failed relationship and family troubles; I read their words over and over. I had the romantic idea that I was going through the dark night of the soul. But for me it never ended, there was no big experience, no mystical illumination at the end. When I left the convent and became a social worker, I kept up my prayer life and contemplative practice, but it remained ordinary and dark for years. Now I realise that I was somewhat depressed and lonely — nothing very mystical about that.
‘Then, ten years ago, I made a retreat with Father Bede Griffiths, a radiant Old Catholic monk with an ashram in India. He had orange yogi-coloured robes and white hair, and deep joy beamed out of his being like daffodils shining after a long winter. We talked, and he told me that I had made up a whole story of how the spiritual journey should unfold. Then he held my face in his hands and beamed such love into me and said ‘Why not be your own unique self? That’s all God wants from you.’ And I wept and I danced and laughed at all I was trying to be. And now for years my life of prayer and contemplative practice has continued in its ordinary way, but I’m not depressed and I’ve come to love life. No great experience ever happened, but through loving myself, everything changed.’

Just being human can be very tough and lonely at times. Being human and struggling with the powers of oppression requires resistance, courage and faith, and none of these are possible, it seems to me, without love.

St John the Divine said:
‘The love of the heart is the candle flame that carries us through the road of darkness.’

And St Theresa of Avila said:
‘The important thing is not to think much but to love much.’

Love to you all

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