Sunday, September 13, 2009

Trusting Ourselves to Grace

We grow spiritually, we deepen our spiritual sense and find our way back to the beam, to the intuitive center of our lives, by moving toward that which moves us. By seeing what catches our eye and looking closer, following after. By doing what needs to be done. That's all there is to it. It is no more difficult than allowing ourselves to be moved by that which moves us, than going in the direction of what catches our eye, than doing what needs to be done. Trusting Grace.

But. We get antsy, anxious. We want to know what the future holds. Give us a map! NOW! Are we there yet? How much longer? Lay it out! Grace doesn't say. Makes us crazy. We want to know what cannot be known. We want to will what cannot be willed. The Taoist idea of wu wei, or doing by not doing (like the ripening of a tomato, or going to sleep) is wasted on us. We think action is the only form of action. But, the truth is that so much time is spent waiting, watching, looking, listening, and so little is spent actually doing anything to manage our future. As if!

We cannot manage our future. We can only do what needs to be done in the present moment of our life. Tomorrow is tomorrow's work. Tomorrow may well have implications for what needs to be done here, now (e.g., studying for an exam, gassing up the car, buying groceries) but. We do what needs to be done now, and we determine what that is.

Determining what needs to be done in the here and now, in this time and this place of our living, is the key to our future. We are preparing the way of our future, without knowing it, by tending to what needs to be done in the present moment of our lives. The Way has a way of opening up before those who are not trying to force their way on the Way but are open to the wonder of Grace at work in their lives.

The wonder of Grace at work in our lives keeps those who are on the Way on the Way. It's the only thing that does, or can. "T'was Grace that brought us safe thus far, and Grace will lead us home," goes the old hymn. The underlying reality has been called Tao, God, Logos, Ground of Being, etc. I prefer to think of it as Grace. It is personal but not private and connects all things. To perceive/receive Grace is to participate in the work of Grace. It is to be a gracious source of Grace in the lives of others. The Evangel is not to talk about Grace but to live graciously, to exhibit Grace as servants of Grace in all of our coming and going. There is no Doctrine, no Dogma. There is only living graciously as expressions of Grace, as channels, you might say, of Grace in all that we do.

The spiritual journey, quest, task is to align ourselves with the underlying reality. This is the search for the Holy Grail, the Promised Land, the Kingdom of God. We cannot think that we are here accumulate wealth, amass abundance, and collect plastic. There is a bigger purpose than our personal purpose. The larger purpose has nothing to do with our interests, our advantage, our gain. We are here to serve it, assist it, bring it forth. This is the right order of things.

Grace is a white rabbit. Will we be led or not? The challenge is always to trust ourselves to Grace directing our life like a white rabbit catching our eye, hoping we will follow. Only the bold and faithful can be so foolish as to follow the white rabbit of Grace throughout their lives no matter what. Our spiritual practice is to become bold and faithful. We practice that by following what catches our eye, by moving toward what moves us, by doing what needs to be done.

When we allow ourselves to be moved by what moves us, that's the white rabbit knocking, winking, calling us to be up and after it. We cannot ignore what moves us. It's the door to life. The test of life is movement. The deadest people I know aren't moved by anything. The energy that moves the universe can't touch them. Dead. Spiritual energy is emotionally moving. It isn't just gospel music and fiery preaching that does it. Anything can. Something must. Move us. We can't be spiritual if we can't be moved. What moves you? Where would you go to be moved? Church? The beach? The mountains? Go there! Often!

We are spiritually, emotionally dead, empty, lifeless because we don't put ourselves in position to be moved. We live unmoving, unmovable. We live cut off from life in sealed mayonnaise jars and order out for sex, drugs, and alcohol, hoping that will do it for a touch of being alive.

We either try to numb ourselves against the pain of life or try to feel something by living on the edge but we aren't moved by anything. We are stimulation junkies simulating movement by moving constantly, always on the go-go-go and dead-dead-dead. The energy that moves the universe can't move us. Being unmoved and unmovable is worse than death. It's being deader than dead.

The experience of being moved by something is traditionally thought of as the encounter with God. It's mysterious, mystical, irrational, real. When we are moved, we are moved psychically, soulfully, and our life takes a turn often at odds with our idea for our life. We have success on our minds, you know.

We don't mind being moved but we insist on being moved in the direction of our goals, desires, dreams, ambitions. On our terms. Under our control. I'm sure you see the problem here. We can give ourselves the accouterments of life, the glass beads and silver mirrors, but not LIFE.

We are not moved by the things we serve. We do not serve the things that move us. There you are. Life on our terms seals us off from LIFE. We move into the mayonnaise jar and wonder why we don't feel anything. Well, LIFE cannot be had on our terms. We can't be alive without movement, without being moved by what moves us, and following it, like a white rabbit, into LIFE. Problem solved. Ah, but. Security. Safety. Comfort. Ease and certitude. The rocks! The whirlpool! We cannot follow what moves us! What kind of life is that? Scary! Fearsome! Uncertain! And so, we practice being bold and faithful by following what moves us.

Or, we forsake life, ignore the white rabbit, for the sake of the safety and security of the mayonnaise jar. Nothing is safer than a tomb. Especially one where you can order out for sex, drugs and alcohol. It's almost like being alive.

The fix for what ails us is simple, and as near to hand as our next breath. All we have to do is open our eyes to what moves us, or to what needs to be done here, now, and do it. Bingo! We are on the trail of the white rabbit. The white rabbit is what moves us, what catches our eye AND what needs to be done here and now. By attending what needs to be done we sensitize ourselves to the movement of the white rabbit, and increase our chances of seeing it when it flashes across our field of vision.

So, what Needs To Be Done here, now? What moves us? What catches our eye? These questions are the central focus and concern of our lives. When we get them down, everything hums along. And, in order to get them down, we read the situation and go, without waiting to know for sure if we are right about what we think needs to be done. The rule of thumb is: Constant input, constant adjustment. We are self-guided, self-directed, self-correcting servants of Grace.

We have to trust our sense of things, our sense of what needs to happen, and make adjustments as we continue to read the situation as it develops, as it arises. Don’t look for consistency. What needs to be done in this situation may be different from what needs to be done in a similar situation. How do we know what needs to be done? Eyes that see, ears that hear, a heart that understands. Where do we get those? Practice, practice, practice. Our practice is seeing, hearing, and understanding. Right seeing, right hearing, right knowing, right being, right doing. Practice, practice, practice.

This is not easy, doing what needs to be done, moving toward what moves us. It requires intense attentiveness, courage, resolve, imagination, creativity, compassion... The list is long of characteristics of the art of doing what needs to be done. Our life becomes the list over time. But, with Grace as the foundation, as the underlying reality of our life, of all of life, of all that is, we have the freedom to experiment with what the situation might be asking of us, to explore the possibilities and trust ourselves to learn from experience in seeing what needs to be done and doing it in the here and now of our lives.

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