“What do you have to look forward to without marriage in your future?” I asked a would-be bride in a dream who had just cancelled her wedding. I didn’t hear her answer. The dream shifted. The bride went off to change clothes. An old man mouthed something to me but the background noise of people leaving the hotel (now that there was not going to be a wedding) drowned him out. And I’m left with the idea that the question is more important than the answer.
We find our own answers. What do we have to look forward to without marriage in our future? For “mar-riage” we have to substitute “what we have been working for, living for, intending with our lives up to this point.” What is a future without that in it? We are brides who have cancelled the wedding when we turn away from the life of our dreams waiting on us at the altar and we step into our own lives, the lives that have their fingers crossed, hoping that we won’t marry and settle for an existence of routine conventionality that is death dressed up in life-like costumes. We have life to look forward to. And, who knows what form, what shape, it will take? Bring it on! Hallelujah! Amen!
That’s the message of the dream. The task is to incorporate it into our lives. To live the dream that is actu-ally a dream, and not our dream for our lives. Always the choice is between the life that is ours to live and the life we want to live, between what is being asked of us and what we want to be given, between the ends we are called to serve and the goals we aspire to achieve. The problem is that we are at odds with our soul about how our life is to be lived. Whose life is it? Who is in charge here? We waste a lot of time understanding and coming to terms with who is in charge. In all of this, the soul’s strategy for waking us up is simple: “Okay. Do it your way.”
In doing it our way, we keep trying to arrange life as we want it to be, while the life that is waiting to be lived waits for us to wake up to the emptiness of all our wanting and get with the business of being alive in the time left for living. The clock’s ticking and we’re burning daylight building sheds to store our stuff.
We keep ourselves from being who we are with our ideas about who we want to be. We have to develop our awareness to the point of consciously standing between who we are and who we also are and choosing who we are going to be, here, now, in this moment of our living. And, do it again in the next moment, and all the other mo-ments. There is no quick fix for the division within. Taking the next step consciously will eventually lead us to the finish line, if we live long enough.
Consciousness is the fastest horse to the finish line. The finish line is freedom, maturity, grace, beauty, truth, peace, compassion, Buddha-hood, Christ-hood, Self-hood, True Human Being-Hood, You. The finish line is you coming home to you, to “the face that was yours before you were born.” We come alive by being awake and aware. Conscious. Consciousness is the final solution.
Consciousness is our only tool in the work of the reclamation of our lives. Everything speaks to those with ears to hear. The path is always opening before those with eyes to see. This is not difficult. It is only a matter of knowing what we know, and knowing what is to be known. Wake up! That’s all there is to it. It’s all right there, be-fore us, jumping up and down, waving it’s little hands, whistling, cart wheeling, waiting to be seen. We only have to look to see that it is so. Does the fish know how to swim? There you are. What are you worried about?
The good news is that we cannot give ourselves—or be given—anything that we cannot use in the reclama-tion of ourselves. Every experience goes into the production of us, into the process of bringing our soul to life in the world. It’s all a part of the path. We don’t have to be right. We learn as much from our failures as from our suc-cesses. What is better—to gain or to lose? Nothing is wasted in the work of aligning ourselves with the soul’s idea of the life we are here to live. Of course, if we refuse to wake up and get to work, the whole thing is wasted, but, even then, our example isn’t wasted on those who live to not be like us. Without us, where would they be? So, even in wasting our lives, we aren’t wasted. I don’t think a day goes by when I fail to remember my grandfather, drinking himself to death, hating everybody. Thanks, Grandpa. I’m not like you again today. May it always be so!
When we are genuinely, authentically, being who we are, that’s enough. The world will be blessed. The boon belongs to all, and the boon blesses all when the treasure is content to be the treasure without aspiring to more than being the treasure. What treasure wanted something for being the treasure? When we find the pearl of great price, we sell everything in order to possess it, but what does the pearl get out of the deal? WE are the pearl, don’t you see? There is nothing more for us to want, or desire, or strive for, or have. We are stupid pearls who don’t understand our own value, and keep wishing for something valuable to transform our lives and make all things good. We are the transformation we seek. We make all things good. Just by being truly who we are. Just by being true to who we are. All a pearl has to be is a pearl.
We only have to do what is ours to do until we die. If we don’t do what is ours to do because we are afraid we might die if we do, we just die sooner by not doing what is ours to do. If we aren’t going to do what is ours to do, we may as well be dead. Being dead to what is ours to do is being deader than dead. And that death is worse by far than dying in the service of what is ours to do. So what if we live to be 150 years old and never do what is ours to do? All we can hope for is doing what is ours to do until we die. It doesn’t matter how long we live. It matters how well we do what is ours to do.
“Nobody gets in to see the Wizard! Not Nobody! Not Nohow!” We read the phrase and think that the Wiz-ard has sealed himself, has sealed herself, off from the masses, safe from the world on the other side of the curtain. But the statement raises the question, “Who has locked the Wizard away?” Is the Wizard in self-imposed exile, or is something else going on? The story of the Wizard of Oz isn’t about the Wizard of Oz, but the Wizard of All. Dorothy, and the Lion, the Tin Man and the Straw Man, all discovered their own personal Wizard Within along the Yellow Brick Road. They woke up, as from a dream, to find themselves, and began to trust their own innate ability to dis-cern the right path and choose it, and find their way home—home being not where they came from, but where they were going.
Conundrums and contradictions are everywhere. On the one hand, We think life consists of enjoyable pass times. Passing the time in comfortable surroundings, in delightful ways. Golf and cocktail parties. Concerts and art galleries. A six-pack and a football game. We think life is about walking around looking at life—going to movies, watching someone else live, watching actors act the part of someone else living.
And, on the other hand, we want to relieve ourselves of the anxiety and discomfort of not knowing what to do by doing something, anything, now. Any action, in our view, is better than no action at all. We do not wait. We do not watch. We do not reflect. We do not listen. We act. All the heroes are Action Heroes. Not one of them ever sits in a rocking chair drinking a cup of coffee looking out the window. Action is a way of distracting ourselves from the deeper task of waiting to see what needs to be done, what needs us to do it.
The work is always watching and waiting. We wait for an opening. We cannot hurry growth, or see beyond the current limits of our seeing, or understand more than we are capable of comprehending. We always think we are more ready than we are for the next thing. The next thing comes in its own time, in its own way. Our place is to wait and watch, and follow the white rabbit when it appears. The trouble with this plan is no one knows where we are going, not even the white rabbit! You can’t beat this for a ride! We make it up as we go! Are you coming or not?
We make it up as we go because there are NO BLACK FOOTPRINTS! That’s the rule for life, living, being alive. There is no plan, no map, no doctrine, no dogma, no recipe, no agenda, no profile, no prototype, no model, no replication, no way to do it. And yet, it is done, everywhere, all the time, by everybody who listens and hears, looks and sees, and brings forth who she, who he, is within the terms and conditions, context and circumstances of her, of his, life.
And we find the way together. But not too much together. This is the tricky part. We are on our own and we can’t do it alone. God can’t do it alone! Should be a bumper sticker. Nobody can do it alone. We all need one another to encourage, sustain, resource our lives, to help us make it through the night. And the day following. And the next night… God needs us, we need God, or the gods, however you imagine divinity, the Mystery, That Which Knows, the Dynamic Core/Center of Life and Being... Ah, and what is it to be done? Life! Life is to be done. Within the terms and conditions, context and circumstances, of this world of physical, concrete, normal, apparent, reality. And we, like God, are on our own in the doing of life, and we can’t do Life alone. No one can. Another beautiful little conundrum, don’t you think? Here comes another one.
What is the good we call good? The trouble with the good, of course, is that it is also bad. There is a down-side to the upside. Which can fool us. The good is tricky that way. We have to be onto it, and do it, for better and for worse. We could also not worry about it, and do the bad, which is also good, on some level, and force good to come out of hiding by slinging bad around. But, that’s too easy, and no fun. How many bad guys enjoy themselves? They are always on the run, hiding, denying, pretending. No bad guy was ever alive. You could look it up. To be alive, you have to pay the price of waking up and doing good, even if it is also bad. You have to trust me in this.