Sunday, September 19, 2010

The work that saves the world is becoming who you are.

It is the work of the individual to save the world. We do that, we save the world, by being individuals, by being who we are, and also are, in the world. We pull this off by being true to ourselves, squared up with who we are and who we also are, squared up with our life, with the way things are, with how it is both inside and outside. The work of squaring ourselves up to how it is with us, internally and externally, is the work that brings us forth as individuals and saves the world. This is not easy.

The work of reconciliation, integration, assimilation, individuation, alignment, becoming who we are, doing what is ours to do in each situation as it arises is trumped by many things, and fear and desire are high on the list. The story of the Garden of Eden is the story of turning aside from The Way that is good for the sake of what is also good. Genesis 3:6 reads, “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.” What is good cancels out what is good.

The good is the enemy of the good. What is the good of the good we call good, of the good we serve? Takes meditative distance to know. To live "from the center" is to live with "meditative distance." It requires focus and concentration to be centered in this here, this now. The farther from the center we live, the greater the attraction to, and influence of, "glass beads and silver mirrors," and other things that catch our eye.

Joseph Campbell was on his college track team and later in life could not attend a track meet without becoming "uncomfortably involved" in the action. We lose the center, the meditative distance, when snared by things we care about. AA doesn't meet in bars, or across the street from bars, or around the corner from bars. There is no immunity. We are not off limits to the "pull of the forbidden fruit." Our work is always at the point of being forgotten and forsaken in favor of all that is “good and pleasing.”

And not only are we distracted by what is attractive and pleasing, but we also have more than we can handle just dealing with the day-to-day ebbs and flows of our life. We build a home in the country long before the subdivision is an idea in some developer's mind, or before the freeway appears on some Department of Transportation design table. No one saw it coming. This is how life is. Life comes out of nowhere to stun and demolish and leave us wondering how in the world we will gather ourselves and respond to THIS.

It takes meditative distance to gather ourselves and face what must be faced. To rise to the occasion. To square ourselves up with the way things are, and do what we can with what we have to work with in responding to THIS. It is not easy, but it is essential that we do the work of offering what is needed to the time and place of our living, day in and day out, for the rest of our lives.

What is being asked of us in each moment, in each situation as it arises? How are we being asked to rise to this occasion, here and now? Ah, but. The objection. The resistance. The very idea! We don't WANT to rise to this, or any, occasion! We want what we want the way we want it when we want it for as long as we want it! And what we want has nothing to do with rising to some occasion! Grr! Snarl! Stomp and Shout (and Pout)!

Our life is asking us to grow up, to square ourselves up with our life, with how it is with us within and without, and we don't want to do it. We don’t want to wake up, grow up, square up, stand up, and do what needs to be done. We want life to bend to our will, to do what we want. We want to be told how to have what we want. We do not want to be told to hand over what we want for the sake of some way that is not our way.

The world is a wasteland that waits for us to understand how things are and reconcile ourselves to it, square ourselves with it. The world is a wasteland waiting for us to hand over what we want for the sake of The Way that is not our idea of any way, much less The Way. Everyone—every thing—suffers in this standoff.

The hero's place, the hero’s role, is not to be the hero with ticker tape parades and fireworks and celebrations long into the night, but to get up each day and rise to the occasion, the occasion she, he, does not want to rise to. THAT is the heroic task. It is never more difficult than doing what is asked of us each day, living in each moment to bring forth the gifts that are ours to give, the genius that is ours to share, in ways that meet the needs of the moment in the way that only we can. But this isn’t the whole of it.

Here’s the rest of the story. The world does not want what we have to offer. That’s the way the world treats its heroes. Jesus is crucified by those he would have gathered under his wings as a hen gathers her chicks. Pay attention here. This is about you. The world does not want us to be who we are, offering what we have to give.

If we are going to become who we are (and who we also are) we have to stand apart from the collective wisdom telling us to not be who we are. But, to do that, to stand apart from the collective is to be seen as Narcissistic, self-indulgent, anti-social. Well. Will we be individuals or not? We will be accused of belonging to "the cult of individuality." Are we going to be individuals or not? The collective will pull all stops in trying to block our development as individuals. Yet, that development is the collective's only hope. Ironic. Paradoxical. And how it is. Square yourself up to it and get yourself going!

No comments: