Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Sacred Space

I have been trying to create a sacred, safe space in my life for as long as I can remember. A space of purity and ease and simplicity, free of stress and complication and difficulty. And I have been doing that by carving out a shrine of sorts in the midst of my own internal reality. I created a space as best I could, reinforced by thick walls to keep out all the distractions of mind and heart.

And it was my retreat place, small and cramped though it always felt. And it was really precious to me, a place I let no one see or visit or even know existed. But it was also isolated and barren ~ hard to let anything in or out, and so it was safe but suffocating. It was a retreat from the world, but not a retreat into a place I wanted to stay for long.

And then in the past few months, an absolute internal earthquake shook the walls of my teeny tiny fortress, cracking the thick foundation, breaking open what I thought was invincible. And, like water seeping through after a storm, love and caring and friendship and concern began to soften the entire structure. And it's been crumbling slowly, slowly, the fortress getter weaker and weaker. The words "stop being so important to yourself and start allowing yourself to be important to me!" having set in motion a cataclysmic change. And then just recently a tidal wave came from within and knocked down the walls once and for all, destroying even the illusion that this small safe haven still existed.

What I am finding in the aftermath of that awesome scene of destruction is that the sacred, safe space I had been craving, needing and desperately holding onto exists, but not in some cramped little corner of my heart. It exists in the company of G*d, in the forcefield of pure love and unconditional giving. And it doesn't belong to me, not in the least little bit. It belongs to every single soul, and is available to each one equally.

So I don't have to separate myself from everyone else to experience it. I don't have to choose you versus me. And the liberation of this awareness is just taking hold in me. I'm just beginning to understand the consequence of this understanding, but already it has righted something that had been painfully wrong for as long as I can remember. I'm finding I can fully inhabit myself now, no holds barred, no hesitation, no timidity, no holding back.

I see myself more clearly than I thought possible, and it's with a lot of mercy and compassion and a level of genuine caring about my own self that I didn't think I was capable of. There have been so many things I fundamentally rejected about myself and my own human condition, but the bitterness and struggle of that reality seems to have left, and it was a change that was overripe for the happening.

I don't believe all the psychologists and counselors and everyone else who says that first you have to love yourself. I don't believe when people say just learn to love yourself and everything follows. Because again and again in my life, it has been the love of others that has opened and changed my heart. The love of G*d, the love of friends traveling with me through eternity, the love of family... This love is what has enabled me to finally arrive at a place where I can feel love for myself, but it's not the place I could ever have started.

I don't know how you start there. Maybe others can do it, but I don't know how. I don't know how you start on empty and magically fill yourself up. Sounds good, but it's never worked for me. So this is partly written in gratitude for those who have shared such pure and powerful love with me that we have both been changed by it. And it's partly written with the understanding that gratitude isn't required...that we have been equally transformed by the experience and instead of standing to the side thinking about all of it, it's time to dig in together and see what's next.

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