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Sunday, January 17, 2010: Spiritual Trials

              I was thinking yesterday of years back, when I found so many ways to bring spiritual awareness into everyday activities. God had been part of car-pooling, changing diapers and washing dishes. God held me in his hand during rough times when emotional strength was drained by the struggles of a bad marriage. During rare moments when I could sit in meditation, I reached to inner worlds to escape pain and hardships. I clung to halcyon memories of spiritual sweetness. Awareness of the divine was my refuge.

              After the divorce, I continued spiritual steps forward, no longer an escape but a means to heal the past and remove emotional blockages.  I reached forward, full of hope, searching out the most difficult and demanding questions of divine reality.

              You know the old saying, “Be careful what you ask for.” One major (traumatic and awesome) step forward found me closing doors, trying to wall off spiritual awareness. Eventually, I became like so many others, holding to a belief in the divine without daily experience of deeper realities. How did I ever come to slide so completely into everyday awareness?

             I know reason: fear of what waits for me when I take my next step forward. All my life these inner experiences have been increasing in intensity. For beginners in a spiritual path, each step forward is filled with simple joy and fulfillment, whereas, in more advanced steps, there are trials or tests which must be completed before one is shown the next level of insight.

          Perhaps that wouldn’t be so bad if you knew you were being given a test, if there was hope it was being overseen by masters confident you could handle the challenge. There is no warning; there seems no guarantee you will come out the other side alive. And as you progress, you find there are things far more terrifying than death of body or soul.

         My last spiritual insight answered my deepest and most challenging spiritual question. Finally, after a multitude of mystical encounters and experiences, I could rest content. I could look back on the trial and see it---not as the ultimate nightmare (an experience I would not wish on my worst enemy) ---but as the required test to be completed before I could be shown my deepest heart’s desire. Standing in the aftermath, I took comfort that at least now I could spend the rest of my life resting in mystic contentment.

          After being given a few weeks to recover my balance, it became obvious that there was more expected of me. When I found a story about a small group of Jewish rabbis who asked for the same insight, retreating into a cave until their answer came, I read in horror that some had died, some had been driven crazy, and some turned from the faith forever. These stakes seemed ridiculously high. I did not surrender my faith in the divine, but neither did I step back on the path.

             Only now (and it must be close to ten years later) am I willing to consider the path. There are deep fears to be conquered as preparation; there are fears of what challenges might be placed before me when I actually step forward.

             Yesterday as I prepared a rutabaga for dinner, everyday tasks again became spiritual offerings. As my cleaver knife forced its way through the hard root crop, I was cutting into my own toughness. I peeled away the outer shell, cutting down large chunks into smaller, more manageable pieces. I swept these up and carried them to the stove, offering them up to the water (so often my symbol for the divine love). I knew the water would soon be boiling, tumbling and softening individual pieces. Later, mashing the cooked rutabaga, my own inner realities remained expanded, connected once again to everyday tasks.  

             Enough time has passed. Perhaps I am ready to step back on the path.

Posted on Sunday, January 17, 2010 at 09:05AM by Registered CommenterThe Skeptical Mystic | CommentsPost a Comment

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