Thursday, March 27, 2008

 

26 March 2008--Traherne

26 March 2008--Traherne

I have recently, in just the past few days, found my path shifting and changing, becoming both something intensely new and frighteningly familiar. It’s a path I have been on before, and I found the experience then to be both uplifting and almost completely destructive. I have no idea what the outcome will be this go-round.

In the light of this, my study of Thomas Traherne has suffered. I have not picked up the book nor indeed given it a thought for days now. I don’t actually feel badly about this, as there are many ways to meditate. My experiences on this particular path can be viewed as meditative, for they have taken me quite deeply within myself. Nine years ago, these experiences took me to the brink of suicide. You cannot go deeper within yourself than to be on the edge of actually killing yourself, and then pulling back at the last possible moment.

I won’t bore with details--those are being spelled out as clearly as possible in another format than an online journal--but I will say that I never wish to experience that kind of pain again. I was betrayed, and I was stolen from. Not stolen from physically, in the sense of losing material things, but stolen from intellectually. My mind was raped, savaged on an international scale, and no, I am not being overly dramatic, believe it or not. I sank into despair. My dark night of the soul had begun, and only now do I realize that it didn’t begin to show hints of dawn until perhaps four months ago.

I felt there was no need, no purpose for my continued existence. I wanted to die. I sank into depression that was left untreated--I have always been far too proud to seek help. The path that had, in late 1998, seemed so glorious and full of promise had become, by mid-1999, a slough of despair.

I have only this minute realized something truly astonishing. The path, the expedition if you will, upon which I’d launched myself mirrored another expedition perfectly. Beginning in hope and clarity and bright ambition and ending in the chill grip of an icy death. I feel no need to explain further here, but there are those out there who will know exactly what I mean.

And now I am on that same path again, but I am following a quite different route to the summit, if you will. I am beginning that same journey anew, with fresh eyes, with a new heart, with a friend I didn’t have when I began this journey ten years ago, and with a love who though impossibly distant from me is still within reach of my loving thoughts. I write this on his birthday. At the outset here, I say thank you to my friend, whom I love deeply. Without her, I wouldn’t be writing this entry tonight. Her compassion and forgiveness and love have shown me the way to courage. Have shown me that against all odds, goodness can and does win.

And so, Traherne, in the midst of this. Traherne as another companion on this journey:

Enjoying the World--Chapter Two

This section began with words that I found particularly apropos to my situation. Ten years ago, I failed to enjoy the world. I failed to see the glories that were all around me. I failed to see that I had been a victim, yes, but also a trailblazer. I failed to see, simply failed to see. “To think well is to serve God in the interior court,” says Traherne, and I have a great need right now to think well. A great need to both find that interior court and serve as I am meant to serve. To stop being so focused on the wrongs done me--and they were legion--and to focus instead on healing the hurt inside, focus on finding the Grace to go on. On finding “the goodness and wisdom of God so manifest” in the created world around me. When we are at our lowest point, that’s precisely when we begin to do two things--1. Hate and blame God; 2. Fail to see God’s hand in everything around us, even in our pain.

The Reason we were Created--Chapter Two

“Love is deeper than at first it can be thought.” I was slightly disappointed that Traherne didn’t really expand on this, but instead re-iterated the importance of seeing the wonder of God’s creation. For love is far deeper than can ever be known, and is one of the most mysterious--most bizarre, sometimes--forces in the universe. Without love we cannot be expected to acknowledge the hand of God in anything at all. Without love, we cannot know fully and eternally that someone thousands of miles away loves us in return. Without love’s deepness, we could never rise to love’s heights. We would never forgive, never seek the benefit of others, never apologize. We would be selfish children, spoilt and screaming. And of course, Traherne’s point must be that if we can hardly enjoy God’s world if we’re busy throwing temper tantrums of loathing. We must love, or we cannot see.

Prizing all Things--Chapter Two

“Can you be holy without accomplishing the end for which you are created? Can you be divine unless you be holy?” There are steps, in other words, to reaching the goal of unity with God. This may be very difficult for some, as Westerners are basically a culture of instant gratification. We want unity with God, but we want it now if not sooner, and we do not under any circumstances want to work for it. We do not want to be told that we were created to accomplish something--we want the rewards without the effort. As Billy Connolly said in a Hothouse Flowers song, “Everybody’s born to do a certain thing, and if you’re dead jamming you find it. We’re here to make babies and look after the place, you know?” Dead jamming means lucky, I think. We all have a purpose, we all have something only we can do, and we have to find that something or, again, we will fail to see. And, says Traherne, we cannot hope to be holy, let alone divine, if we refuse to accomplish our work.

And with that in mind, I will close for the night, because my fibromyalgia kept me up all night last night and I’m simply tired. I will say that I have found the work I am meant to do, and though I failed signally at finishing it a decade ago, my life is far different now. I will not fail twice. I will accomplish what I am meant to accomplish. I will reach the summit.

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