Love and the Storm

9 Jun

It was one of those stormy sunsets, the kind where a deep orange melts through a dark rain and alights the eastern mountains. I stood in absolute stillness, gazing softly across the plains from my chosen spot on a hillside of pinion and rocky outcroppings. The storm had been violent, with blazes of lightning across the northern sky leaving wildfires in its path. But its aftermath left this small part of the world with a peaceful and soft glow, a glow that would not have been possible without the darkness and chaos of the desert monsoon.

The chaotic rhythms of this sometimes obscene world give me much to ponder, least of which is why we spend so much of our time seeking pleasure, gratification, and, ultimately, spiritual ascension. I know these words may initially echo with cynicism and hopelessness, but I am going somewhere with this. As I stood with the sunset, I began to take in all that I have been through over the past few years: love and loss, love and loss, and then more feelings of loss. It has been excruciating and tormenting, to the point that my heart has felt like it will never recover. I am sure this sounds familiar to you. Despite all my attempts to escape the pain, I found myself back in it over and over again. I would seek liberation through contact with others, through nature, or by doing what I love. Nothing worked.

What I realized on my chosen spot overlooking the plains was that I have spent these last few years completely avoiding the actual pain, which has left me suffering even more. I had listened to the guidance of others who said, “Look for the light” or “Just have fun.” I had listened to my own flawed inner guidance, which said, “Get what is good.” All the while, I had been ignoring my body and the deeper heartache that was trying to speak.

Any time we focus solely on perfection, ascension, or sustained “happiness,” we will ultimately find ourselves worse off. It may not happen immediately, but what goes up must eventually come down. This is because we live in a realm of duality; paradox will find us at every corner. When we are celebrating our happiness and think we have secured it, something might just come along to cut us down.

On that note, when do we celebrate our pain and suffering? Answer: Rarely, if ever. And it is this very avoidance of our reality that causes the deeper anxiety and depression that blankets our view of the world and stifles our vitality.   The more time I spend among spiritual seekers, the more I see our natural tendency to promote ascension, “up-leveling,” recognition of our “greater self”, and so on. But what we miss in all this is that our current spiritual vessel is that of a human body and mind, rife with the mess of oft-violent imperfection and impurity. Instead of embracing it and finding compassion, I see so many trying to bypass it. We want out of our body, understandably.  Our bodies hurt. Our minds hurt even more.  But our attempts at escape leave us depraved, dissociated, and lacking empathy.

Instead, I compel us to both ascend and descend. Yes, turn to heaven, the greater dimensionality of our cosmos, but also to the deep spirit of earth and the lower realms. As we go up, we must balance it by going down.  When we look at our body, we have feet on the ground and our heads in the sky; our feet and heads are connected by everything in between. Should we choose to just fly in the sky, gravity will tug at us until our insatiability comes pouring down in a cacophony of pain and sorrow and suffering (dramatic, I know).  In order to know that we are flying, we must know the ground below. Likewise, should we choose to only descend and feel gravity, we become embedded in the dense earth, unable to move freely.

What happens when we allow ourselves to be as fully human as we were meant to be? What happens when we love the imperfect, messy, yearning, drooling body that leaves excrement behind. What happens when we simultaneously embrace the parts of us that are beautiful, dynamic, brave, and enriched by each other and the world that birthed us? I’ll tell you: when we allow this, we are alive. The energy that this radical acceptance produces can move us, shake us, rattle us out of our myopic world and into an expanded sense of self. Only then can we truly feel the eternal light of our soul’s deepest truth.

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