I’ve been experiencing growing pains. Yes, at my age. But I’d call them spiritual growing pains. The kind you get when you sincerely say, “Your will, not mine, be done.”
If you know me, you know I’ve been praying for some time to fulfill my longing to serve something greater than myself, and to deepen my connection with the Divine. Now I find myself asking, “Am I willing to pay the price?”
Because I’m finding that letting go of my little self-will’s desire to have things be as I want them to be is not easy.
Like this situation in San Antonio, for instance. Some things haven’t quite been turning out as I’d hoped or expected. I’m facing challenges in several areas. And in the process, I’m being shown just how much I struggle against what is present when it goes against what I’d prefer or what I think it should be.
The other day I came across some notes I’d scribbled during a Tara Brach weekend workshop I’d taken last year. Tara Brach is a Buddhist Insight Meditation teacher and presenter in the Washington, D.C., metro area who gives excellent talks available free of charge online. Her sage teachings have often helped me. Now, this particular line of hers popped off the page:
“Peace is this moment without judgment— that is all.”
This moment, in my heart space, without judgment. Completely open to what is in front of me. No matter whether my little ego likes it or not. No matter whether my self-will would like to change it into something else. That’s peace. It’s also the meaning of surrender.
A wonderful model of this for me, in the Christian tradition, is Mary. Her total surrender to God with the words, “Let it be done unto me,” are an example I find hard to replicate. Yet, I’ve said “yes” to a calling, and this is where it’s taken me.
At least for now.
And I do believe I’m here to learn and to grow in preparation for the next step on my journey. Whatever that may be.
In the meantime, I find San Antonio to be more of a desert experience than El Paso was. These are some of the temptations I’m facing in this desert:
- To desire clarity and understanding over living with mystery and “allowing”
- To doubt my faith and my discernment
- To want to turn back when I don’t understand or I feel scared or I don’t have control
- To want to mold and make what is present into something different
- To take back my “yes” and resort to my more comfortable self-will
I’ve been humbled more than a few times as I’ve recognized these places within myself. It’s humbling to come up against my ego’s demands and my “no.”
Can I wait it out for a while? I think so. Because I truly do see this as an opportunity for growth.
Since I started this journey, I’ve been keeping a file of inspirational quotes that speak to my heart. Here are a few that especially speak to me now:
“In this well ordered universe, the perfect vehicle for our spiritual growth and unfoldment is exactly our present situation.”
“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope.”
~ Thomas Merton