A close friend of mine used to work for a major publishing company. She left a couple of years ago, after 20 years, a conscious decision to explore what life had to offer her beyond the success she’d achieved as a publisher. She said to me recently she was noticing that there are many more ups and downs in life now she isn’t in the safe financial cocoon of a large corporation. It was an observation she’d made that had no regret attached to it, indeed more the opposite – that life is the richer for it.
I think like me she had somehow expected to be richly rewarded for her brave decision to quit a mightily well paid job, and for the next creative steps to fall into place quickly. But it doesn’t work like that, I know because it took me almost 10 years to bring the retreat space to fruition, there were so many twists and turns, stops and starts along the way. Even now when the path seems clearer and life more settled, some new little bug has burrowed into my blood stream.
I knew as I was driving back from Scotland that I was bringing back with me the desire to build on the profound numinous experiences I’d had during the 30 day retreat. Unbeknownst to me I also brought back a tick bite that held the beginnings of Lyme disease.
This past month, despite enjoying all the people who came to stay, I felt unusually tired. A chance news item about a new tick disease, mentioned that the symptoms of Lyme disease are “flu like”. “That’s me” I said. I went to see a GP and we agreed it’s likely, given the symptoms I’m presenting, that I have Lyme’s disease. I’ve been wondering for the past two days, why this , why now, as I’ve had to cancel commitments for the next couple of weeks.
What I’ve come up with so far is this. We are always being called to go beyond our comfort zone, being drawn to a “larger life” – and there is joy and richness to be found there. At the same time there is also a parallel call to letting go of attachment to whatever new names we’ve devised for ourselves (retreat giver, group facilitator, contemplative…..). Otherwise we get stuck in the latest identity of our “imaginary selves”.
I came across these words from Richard Rohr in one of my clearing out moments this week:
“We, like Jesus himself, have to let go of who we think we are, and who we think we need to be. “Dying at 30? I am just getting started!” he must have thought. We have to let go of the passing names by which we have tried to name ourselves and become the “naked self before the naked God”. That will always feel like dying, because we are so attached to our passing names and identities. Your bare, undecorated self is already and forever the beloved child of God. When you can rest there, you will begin to share in the universal Christ consciousness, the very “mind of Christ”.