whole: day 9

IT IS ONLY BY PUTTING IT INTO WORDS THAT I MAKE IT WHOLE.

Virginia Woolf

If seeingdarkly is my shorthand for ‘for now we shall see through a glass, darkly’, then my shorthand for ‘now I know in part’ (I Corinthians 13.12 KJV) is knowingdarkly.

There are so many days when I do not know what to think of myself or of God.  There are days, due to depression, when it is difficult to think at all.  Clinical Depression often warps the way I see myself, distorting what I know I believe, somewhere deep-down in my core: 

I am a child of God.

God loves me.

I am loveable.

I am loved.

This is what I call ‘learning to live loved’.  It is the basic building block of knowingdarkly, and I try to hold onto it.  As I do so, it is vital to remind myself, as Douglas Coupland did in Generation X, that ‘you are not your ego’.  My ego can twist the way I see myself in relation to God and others: all those futile ‘oughts, buts, shoulds, musts’ that arise out of my need to control what happens to me; my need to prevent further pain; or to hide my past pain from others. An ego twisted by years of misinterpreting scripture and the christian faith I was taught as a child.  An ego which internalised spiritualised perfectionism and the consequential necessary self-sabotage that follows.  As Kurtz and Ketcham remark:

… to be human is, after all, to be other than “God”.  And so it is only in the embracing of our torn self, only in the acceptance that there is nothing “wrong” with feeling torn, that one can hope for whatever healing is available and can thus become as “whole” as possible. Only those who know darkness can truly appreciate light; only those who acknowledge darkness can even see the light.

(E.Kurtz & K. Ketcham, The Spirituality of Imperfection (61))

embracing our torn self

Changing my thinking; believing a new narrative; rewriting my script, my story.  All these begin with acceptance and surrender.  Even on my best days, what I know to be true about myself and my God is but a tiny part of knowingdarkly.

I recently re-found a scrap of a newspaper.  On it, I had circled words Sky Hopinka said to a reporter from The Guardian newspaper.  Sky Hopinka is an indigenous filmmaker from the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin.  Whilst he was making Jáji Approx. in 2015 about the Standing Rock Dakota Access Pipeline protests, Hopinka said that ‘the difference between learning and knowing is little more than asking questions without the entitlement of an answer’.  

I suspect this is knowingdarkly: an action where the ego is is not in charge of directing the mind, so the Spirit has space to be in my becoming.  It is an action where I am content to allow myself not to know, not to be in charge of what and how I know or believe – about either myself or my God.  If I can yield control of my life so that I can ‘live the questions’, as the poet Rilke put it, then I will also be yielding to ‘asking questions without the entitlement of an answer’.  My ego is what demands it is ‘entitled’ to know.  Knowingdarkly is an ongoing commitment to releasing that ‘right’ to know all.

It is also about realising the difference between controlling and connecting.  The more I loose my ego’s controlling hold, the more my True Self can maintain the vital connection (however small, however weak a connection that feels) with the timeless hope which is enshrined at the heart of in knowingdarkly:

You are a story. You are not merely the possessor and teller of a number of stories; you are a well-written intentional story that is authored by the greatest Writer of all time, and even before time and after time.  The weight of those words, if you believe them even for brief snippets of time, can change the trajectory of your life.

Dan Allender

You are a wild and gleeful thing,

nudged by lavish grace

towards all the astonishments,

and nothing can stop it

or you.

You are not a mistake.

The earth aches for your singular life,

for the miracle radiance

of purely, specifically

you.

The shakings and dark noises

of a man-made world

cannot compete with your hallelujah blood,

your hosanna spirit,

or with the gentle fury of hope.

‘You’ 

Gideon Heugh

no entitlement to the answer. (iPhone image)

Published by Kate Kennington Steer

writer, photographer and visual artist

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