Darkness. Silence. Solitude. Stillness. Are these words that make you cringe, make you feel lonely, frightened, calm, inspired, unsure? What feelings do they evoke in your soul? Whatever it may be, it’s totally ok. However you react to them, it is absolutely ok. And, I am not here to try to change your mind or tell you you are wrong. But, I am here to witness to my own relationship to these words + to perhaps offer a different perspective. Not to say that I am right either, but to simply share the stories of my own journey… that, in the middle of nothing, I find everything.
You see, the thing about meditating, being present, seeking stillness, and living a slow life does not only lead to meeting the divine within myself, accepting + finding my true self; but it also gets me grounded into a place of pure, deep wisdom. Connecting me with the wisdom of the ages + my own unique wisdom + truth.
In meditating (that’s the word I’m gonna use to mean stillness, presence, contemplation, mindful, slow living for the rest of this post, ok?), I am stripped down to nothingness. And, yet, in that nothingness, I find everything.
Stay with me, alright?
When I spend time in silent, quiet, focused meditation then it’s just me + nothing else. I cannot run away from who I really am. I am stripped down to my true self. The ego is banished + I find no need to be anything/anyone/something else other than I am at my deepest core. It’s am exciting, frightening, inspiring feeling of freedom.
But, in order to get to this place, I find that it is much easier if I live my entire life in the same simple, grounded way. Now, this is not to say that I do not buy things or need things or enjoy creature comforts… I totally do. But, I try to live with perspective. I seek to live with only the things that I need, or I seek to not need so much.
When I worked as a pastor in a church, I took young people/young adults on retreats often. Many trips were focused on volunteer work, but always I wanted to focus on living simply, having a chance to experience life without many material things we are normally used to. It was a lesson in non-attachment/detachment from our first world privileges. And, with every single trip, all of us understood that we don’t need as much as we think we do. That the things that are most important are not material at all… but, love, justice, peace, unity, connection, spirituality.
And, had I not had a practice of meditation/prayer/slow living, then I would not have felt the yearning to cast off the values of the world, and to focus on the values of the magical, mysterious, mystical world and the desire to live as my highest, most spiritual self. Again, this does not mean that I do not accept or live in the world. It means that, because of my beliefs + practices, I choose to live as I want to live in the midst of the world… doing what I can to use my life as a branch of hope, light, and love.
You see, all of this centering + letting go is what spirituality (from whatever tradition you want to think about), teaches me about truly living. It becomes my way of focusing on myself + my soul, which leads me to be connected with the Source of life, love, mystery, and magic; and that unity teaches me who I truly am (not my ego). It is from this grounded place in meditation that I learn to live from my true self. That nothing else exists except my true self, and the divine connection that connects us all. And this space feels like emptiness and fullness all at the same time. The mystics + saints throughout the ages all say, from this place of authentic self, that when we are nobody, then we are everybody. When we are empty, we are full. When we are nothing, we are everything.
Of course this makes no sense to most of us. Society teaches us to be somebody. That what we should be focused on is making something of our lives, being somebody with power, prestige, money, status.
But, the way of presence, a life grounded in balance + harmony, is the exact opposite. It is a life that seeks quiet and stillness – all while balancing the art of pulling away + living in the midst of it all simultaneously. It is a life that follows the way of nature, that is rooted in love + meditation, so that it can reach higher + fulfill even more. Not because it has or does more. But, because it has nothing + seeks nothing… except presence.
And, from this centered place of presence; wisdom, love, and justice are the branches + flowers that grow from the dark, unseen seeds sowed in meditation.
This time of year is that time of year that calls on us to simply sit with the seeds that have been planted. To slow down. To wait. To just be. To trust the process. To be ok with turning inward. To listen to the wisdom of the earth + the wisdom of our souls.
In the dark, in the silence, in the solitude, it feels like nothing. But, in truth, it is everything.