Sometimes I just feel so deeply.
I feel so much love. joy. simple peace. profound peace.
And sometimes I feel fear. anguish. shame. humiliation. heartbreak. and despair.
Despair is here today. It invited itself to tea. It boiled the water, steeped the bags, and served tea to me. I guess it is high time for high tea with despair.
Maybe it arrived when I heard Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee speak on Sunday.
He is a brilliant Sufi teacher. His words cut me open. Words of longing for God. Words of crying out for God. Words of wisdom about how our western world has forgotten about God, has forgotten to kneel in awe at the profound mystery that the Divine is.
He spoke of how, when things can’t get darker, or more full of despair, a person instinctively calls out to something greater, knowing the situation is beyond anything she can fix or figure out. This calling out, this crying out instinctively, comes from somewhere inside, someplace where she has not forgotten that there is divinity within her.
I’ve had these times in my life. Times of complete blackness and despair. In these times, I KNEW there was NOTHING I could do. And in these times I dropped to my knees in anguish, despair and prayer. And in these times I was held. Answered. Loved. And in this love, I could finally be with what was. And in being with what was, I could begin to move forward again.
I wasn’t raised religious. Wouldn’t say that I am. I have no context for God, other than my own life experience. And, I know God is here. Not a him. Not a her. Simply is.
Llewellyn. When someone asked him about the state of affairs in the world, he spoke of how the West no longer has a context to drop to its knees, as a collective. When things are to the point of despair, which I believe they are, there is no context for God in our collective culture. We’ve forgotten that there is something greater than us.
I remember how I felt when I returned home from India. My travels there fed me in a way I had never experienced. I realized God is remembered by the culture all through the day. I could feel God in the air. I could feel the Divine in every bit of teeming life. God was in the healthy, the sick, the living, the dying. God was in the awareness. The spark of divinity in me was mirrored by the divinity in the collective. When I returned home, I no longer saw my divinity mirrored by the collective. It felt as if our world here has been washed clean. Oh, yes, thank God it is in everything else… the trees, the animals, the mountains…but, not in our man made world. Not in our culture.
Perhaps this is when despair dropped in.
I have felt, and feel, so helpless because there seems to be no avenue to express my despair, except of course on my own knees to God. But out there it feels as if we, and I include me in this, go on about our day. I have three beautiful grandchildren, and I weep at what the world will be like for them. Sometimes, when I write about my despair, others respond saying they feel it, too. But then our culture continues on, dropping to knees to the Gods we’ve anointed with power: Money, Technology, Media, Pornography, Consumption, War.
I can’t get Llewellyn’s words out of my mind. We as a culture don’t seem to be able to come together at all. We are divided as a culture. Republican vs. Democrat. Christina vs. Muslim. Men vs. Women. Haves vs. Have-Nots. Believers vs. Non-Believers. Those who believe we are hurtling towards a dangerous end, those who don’t. Granted nothing is this black and white, nothing. But we tend to take sides, as if one side or the other is our tribe. There is a palpable push-pull happening, only keeping us stuck in the muck of our own making. There seem to be few valid, concrete solutions to the growing state of affairs. Heck, we can’t even agree that we face problems.
What I do know is that we must feel everything here, all the emotions that the current state of affairs brings up. Despair, grief, sadness, anger are feelings we don’t usually acknowledge until they beome so great we can’t not acknowldege them. We must feel the depths of the darkness that we push away. I know I can no longer not feel despair. I know I can no longer remain silent about the depths of turmoil and grief I feel.
There is a plus-side to feeling these dark emotions. Healing comes through them. And clarity comes, too. These feelings cloud clarity, they cloud the inner strength to act, the creativity that can bubble up to serve us in these times. Qualities like clarity, inner strength, creativity, compassion all come from our essential nature, our divinity. That God-spark within each of us.
Dropping to our knees and feeling the depths of what lies in our hearts helps us to remember there is something greater than us, something that holds us. Call it God, the Divine, Greater Intelligence, Life, or whatever works for you. No Matter. The name is just for us anyway.
When I feel as if my heart will just break, I know it will break open. A heart breaking open is a good thing. Then there is love. Only love. For all of life. Even for the false Gods I’ve created. An open heart doesn’t keep anything out. And it invites grace in. The grace that just might be the only passage to a new kind of world.
Despair has taught me well. It has shared its gift.
This is a love message. To you.
I think of what Mother Teresa said, “If you want a love message to be heard, it has got to be sent out. To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.” I’m sending it out. Don’t know how it will touch you, or if it will. I just keep putting oil in the lamp.