whole: day 3

Genuine wholeness in the spiritual life … requires unflinchingly facing one’s hollowness.  The harshness of the desert exacts a stripping away of every chimera and self-delusion for the sake of what is real.  “Delight in the truth,” exhorts Donald Nicholl. “Truth tastes better with each illusion that evaporates.”

The Solace of Fierce Landscapes, Belden C. Lane (197/8)

The traditions of ‘Desert Spirituality’ teach me that the route to wholeness in heart, body, mind and spirit can only lie through risk and loss.  There are times when I feel all the losses that thirty years of chronic illness have brought are very close to my surface.  I don’t have to look very hard.  There are times as well when I look at the wider world and all I see is loss – loss through war, famine, violence, poverty.  

Feeling such loss, and feeling so lost, does not make me inclined to risk anything.  Too often I just want to hide instead.  Yet spiritual teachers down the centuries all agree that ‘before we awaken to who we are we have to awaken to who we are not’ (Spiritual Intelligence, Brian Draper (63)).

I am not the woman I thought I would be.  I lost sight of the Kate I wanted to be more than twenty years ago.  I still miss her.  Her dreams, like my dreams, seem to lie in tatters.  My task now though, is to live wholeheartedly as who I am – now.  I need to learn to rejoice in all the abundance of who I am; rather than living in the past – never facing what, and who, is real before me today.

No one is as whole as [the one] who has a broken heart 

said Rabbi Moshe Leib of Sasov.  I cannot be wholly who I am, as God made me, without being prepared to admit I am not God.  And if I am not God, and I cannot control this world, then what becomes vital is to be who I am.  This means living out the paradox that before I can be whole, I have to admit my heart is broken.

All shall be well and all shall be well 

and all manner of things shall be well 

and not the least thing shall be missed 

Every dawn is a holy event and every day is holy

The earth is sacred and every step taken upon her is as a prayer

All things are yours, and all things are yours

and God is reconciling all things

Resonate with the prayer of all our relations

Let all that is restless and guarded in me know its own sadness

Let sadness rise up as incense to the God who sees

See the desolations God brings upon earth: 

God breaks the weapons of war

abolishes all law

and liberates the heart

Be still and know

Today I break my vigils to the past

I end my vigil to the empty spaces left by my losses

They are gone and shall not return

But here am I today

My task is to live

I end my vigil of vengeance and anger over the injustices and abuses I have known

It happened and cannot be undone

only forgiven and let be

And here am I today

My task is to live

I end the vigil of silent fear of the powers that have dominated me

They ruled over me for a time

and they rule over me no more

Here I am today

My task is to live

I end the vigil I have kept to the dutiful martyr of sorrows

Weeping is for a night, but there is joy in the morning

Here am I today

My task is to live and to live joyously

I arise from the sorrows of the past

I blow out the candles and turn

I face the sun and feel the wind of the present

I put my feet down upon the rich earth of today

and she welcomes me

There is a river that flows form the being of God

and on its banks are trees of healing

It flows to the dead places

to the stuck places

to the places of rage

to the places of hurt

to the waters where nothing lives

The river of God cancels all debts and makes alive in gladness

All shall be well and all shall be well 

and all manner of things shall be well

and not the least thing shall be missed

A liturgy of wholeness’, David Blower. Nomad Devotionals & Contemplations E92. Nomadpodcast.co.uk (David has collected a number of texts into this liturgy. They are from Julian of Norwich, The Apostle Paul, Psalm 46 and some other ‘bits and pieces’. )

today I break my vigils to the past (iPhone image)

Published by Kate Kennington Steer

writer, photographer and visual artist

4 thoughts on “whole: day 3

    1. I am too … in fact I will be writing about it in a couple of days!!! ‘Paradox and ambiguity offers more truth than clarity’ is a very powerful statement Abigail. One I need to think about, because I want to say I agree absolutely – in my experience – and then I remember I am a light junkie …


      1. Yeah, I’m a light junkie too. With chronic depression, I’ve learned to set up a special lightbox when we move into those grey overcast days. Makes a big difference, along with other supports.


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