Monday, July 11, 2011

Loneliness Teaches the Mastery of Power

The Elders say that Loneliness teaches the people the mastery of power. I've felt many faces of this teaching - being home to myself, fully committing to finding beauty wherever I am. But I must have more still to learn from this teacher - who seems to be walking with me lately amidst a pervading sense of being lost.

The problem with feeling lost is the embedded “should:” I should know where I am, where I’m going, where that thing is that I need now but can’t put my hand on. Without the should, wouldn't lost just be an exploration of a space I didn’t predict, one that I may not feel quite prepared for but which is here nonetheless? Lost means that there’s some way I’m used to feeling oriented that is not orienting me right now. So, being lost is the demand to pay attention, to create a current set of reference points.

That’s the pep talk version of how I understand being lost. Meanwhile, though, there’s the loss inside of lost that must also be reckoned with. The antonym of lost must be home, that place where we find and are found by those people, things, sensations that are utterly familiar – and the kind of familiar that brooks no critique. Home is a place we deserve, not the complacency of familiarity but the sustenance of it, the rootedness that helps us grow. Lost is the vacuum created by the lack of home, when home has not only gone missing but left no breadcrumbs to follow.

The paradox lies in the truth that home can and must be found anywhere even as it is a somewhere that beckons us to return. Here in this wilderness that I currently know as my own heart, here is my home of the now, the reality of where I live and breathe, the unequivocal welcoming of my spirit and being, the place that must take me in. Indeed, even as I search for the home that is on the other side of the moon, I do not leave this wildness behind – it must accompany me, and I must allow it to enrich and enliven all the places I inhabit. But I admit to being tired from being in a place where exposure is the norm and where warmth, comfort, and sustenance take such effort, scavenged from unfamiliar surroundings.

What is the power of this paradox? At the least, it fuels my determination to keep going - whether that's into greater ease with these solitary spaces, or in search of a path that reconnects me with others; most likely both. And it takes me, too, into the power of prayer. Paradox always creates a space that is bigger than I know how to be. So, the connection starts there; I'll keep my eye out for breadcrumbs.