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Read 5 More Big Ideas from this EnTheos Class on Renewal here.
Renewal takes courage. Hardly a passive stance, breathing in joy and grace takes a brave commitment to that which we cannot see. It takes strength to pursue something we can’t measure and that is far less validated by our culture. Pulling our attention away from the magnetism of the superficial we turn, posed as if over a cliff edge, and we hover there, with a little vertigo, before we begin to experience the support of a very different updraft. Become an intrepid explorer of the Self and Spirit. You may find you are more brave than you might have thought.
Breathe into the New Space
Often times it seems that we can’t quite catch our own breath. That there’s not room enough in our fear-bound lungs to inhale. Now that you’ve created space and pliability—breathe. Allow your inhalation—of breath and of heart—to expand the center of yourself. Experience the room you’ve created. Invite a summer’s breeze into that space and fill the corners of the universe with one breath. As Self knows no limits, one gentle extension of our attention can reach the corners of the infinite. Boundless and close, safe and vast, easeful and unexpected, you can now explore the space within. Breathe into the new space, hang out here for awhile.
Benedictine monk Thomas Merton (1915 – 1968) pointed to a similar place, experience the space, “Contemplation does not arrive at reality after a process of deduction, but by an intuitive awakening in which our free and personal reality becomes fully alive to its own existential depths, which open out into the mystery of God.”
Did you find a gentle smile play across your lips as you move, unencumbered through the space within? Balance there, without effort. See if there’s a quiet happiness rising in your chest. Experience this emotion/sensation/intimation almost physically from the heart. It’s mysterious how something as vast as the universe can feel nearer than near. Be still as your feelings move and change. Allow the upwelling of excitement to die down. Be content and at peace, knowing that that which was unbidden and unexpected still appeared. Be happy, for that mystery exists whether we happen to feel it at any particular moment.
When we experience a spontaneous arising of joy, we often want to dissect it. How did it come? What did I do to make the joy appear? What are its component parts? Like bright-colored lilies that live only for a day and then fade, respect the presence of grace as it appears in its natural element. Let it emerge and die back in its own rhythm, love its presence, respect its timing, and trust its existence. Renewal involves ease and faith. Faith is its own type of respect, we cultivate it as we learn to listen for signs of emergence in our inner world. It doesn’t take a huge part of ourselves, but it does take at least one part of ourselves, to stand sentinel, patiently alert, extending our gratitude for the intimations of grace.
The Indian social activist who spoke with the roar of Silence Vimala Thakar (1921 – 2009) described the posture of the seeker, “Let me begin by saying, ‘I do not know what God is, what reality is, what death is, what freedom is. Let me find out.’ In that state of humility in that openness to learning, I become a disciple–not to an authority but to life, to universal, cosmic life which is the ancient master and teacher.”10
When we are thirsty, we drink, and our cells rehydrate. The process of inner rejuvenation is similar. We drink by opening our inner being to the grace we discover in the Self. We rejuvenate by pausing long enough to allow ourselves to absorb the grace that we dip into. Through practice, we can renew ourselves, and by withdrawing from the surface of life, and turning our attention to the inner world of Spirit. The rest will happen by itself. Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749 – 1832) declared, “We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden.”
The more we practice renewal, the more new life we can extend into our surroundings. As we each cultivate a different relationship to our interior world, the more fully we meet each other, connect, and create a very different currency of relatedness between us.