Crucial to my journey of becoming is my incessant search for meaning and depth in my experiences, in my encounter with people, in my relationships with God, the community and my self. I always long and crave for colors, rhythm and music in the dance of life. The picture must be that of joyous and harmonious strokes and movements speaking of beauty and grandiosity. And it was. Nevertheless, I was shown another work of art. A portrait of a dark void with slow pacing and dissonant force whirling around it. I said, there must something valuable in it despite its mysterious, unattractive appearance. And indeed, there was. Given the pictures, satisfied I was not. I looked and desire for the ‘more’ that will hold and furnish the pictures together into a masterpiece of symbolic, transparent fine art. This I was given. But, not the picture, only the way. I must journey to search for it. This time, I am anxious. I said, there must be danger ahead. I might get lost and never find my way back. On the contrary, there was no other better way other than to risk journeying all the way through the road I less traveled. A journey in and through my stories, which would become a one story of unceasing spiritual quest within the Bigger Story.
Let me conceptualize my story trough [the context of] the story that I read in Anthony de Mello’s book The Heart of the Enlightened.
I set off for the journey and I came upon a tall tower, stepped inside and found it all dark. As I groped around, I came upon a circular staircase. Curious to know where it led to, I began to climb, and as I climbed, I sensed a growing uneasiness my heart. So I looked behind me and was horrified to see that each time I climbed a step, the previous one fell off and disappeared. Before me the stairs wound upward and I had no idea where they led; behind me yawned an enormous black emptiness. With growing fear, I continue to climb on top. Tired and weary, I reached the last step. But it was not yet the end. Before me stands a dark labyrinth. I started to cry and groan in terror and pain that gripped my being. I knew then, I was off to a more horrifying and crushing journey. A journey to my ‘labyrinth’ self.
What a terrifying place! I moved from one dark room to another of different sizes and battled with monsters and ghosts. My emotions and experience beyond imaginable, evolved from fear and terror to anguish and sorrow to pain and restlessness to anger and resentment to letting be and to death. I was crushed. Everything was a mess. A total jumble of emotions and self. There seemed to be no end. How I wish I have never been into it or just jumped back to the ground when I was still near! At one point, I just wanted to give it all up. Gathering my remaining strength and will, I decided to continue the journey. Simply because I trusted the gift of the way and the presence of the One who agonizes with me.
Jesus came in Gethsemane and prayed. What a dark moment for him! His fear, sorrow, pain and anguish were so terrifying that that they almost crushed him. “He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. He prayed saying, ‘Father if you are willing, take this cup away from me… [Lk 22:42a, 44] However, he did not allow these to overcome him. He accepted his Father’s will, “…still, not my will but yours be done” [Luke 22: 42b] and let everything be unto death.
Jesus’ Yes is rooted in his unqualified faith and obedience to the will of God transcending uncertainties and self-will. Jesus said yes not to abolish but to charmingly embrace evil in order to bring about good. Jesus said yes to swallow death so that there may be life for all humanity and creation. By doing so in the cross, he unveiled to us the love that there is for us. A love that we can always hope for.
This gave me the wisdom I just needed. Dark moment is always a turning point, an occasion to rediscover the ‘love’ that manifest itself in a way that I cannot fully grasp. Accepting it leads to something greater that I may not know for the moment. Something beyond my experience, capable of gazing at and embracing my experience itself. It might even be the ‘more’ that I am searching for. This I shall always cherish, hold and remember as I go through the journey especially of my life at sundown echoing the same words of Jesus “…still, not my will but yours be done.”
* * * * * * * * * *
I was nearing death. I resisted. I was too scared. I then had to deal with my fear and pain and just let death be. Without control. Without haste. Without denial. Broken, wounded, scarred, I had to [learn] to just be in death and wait. And so I did. I kept still, nothing yet seemed to happen. I tried to be full of anticipation and hope. I continued waiting, waiting and waiting.
After long waiting, there emerged a thin ray of light. I became more afraid. The light might fade. It should not be this time. Not anymore. It is better to be in the dark than to see light and see it dies out. However, light has to be light. Again I waited. The light started to overcome the darkness and transform the coldness of the labyrinth. I began to feel its warmth gradually penetrating every bit of my flesh, my being, reviving my strength, soothing me with calmness and peace, recreating life in me. Still I did not move. I waited. Then at my own pace, I stood up opening my curled body. I began to see and understand. There is nothing to be scared of. The light must shine. The journey has not yet ended but just began. A journey toward home must continue and I surmise, a more demanding one.
I was like an iron right in the middle of the iron furnace being burned by fire. Violently burned, the rusts that continue to destroy and waste the iron away were consumed, smoothening its rough surfaces. The fire continued burning but amazingly the iron was never destroyed, rather there emerged itself, hot and blazing, now dancing with the glowing and harmonious movement of fire. O gracious birth of iron’s true nature, which even a scorching fire is not capable of wiping out but only of enabling it to shine.
Jesus did not escape death but rather courageously went up to Jerusalem. He waited for the hour. When the time came, he lovingly fixed himself in a wide-open embrace of the world. He accepted everything as a gift, which includes us, and offered it back to the Father. The Father, who Jesus let be, received and brought it to himself with graciousness and love, raising Jesus from death and making his glory shines through. Jesus’ death and resurrection were the culmination of God revealing God-self in a medium which is no longer other but self. An act of love that transcends unnecessary fears, anxieties and falsified desires.
The courage to accept acceptance (Breemen, As Bread that is Broken) is the heart of coming home. The continuous discovery and acceptance that I am first and always loved by God as I am will always lead me back home to God, the truth and ground of my being. What I have is not what counts but I am. I do not have to be another person and what I am not. I only have to mine in my own backyard and need not go far away to find the treasure. God’s unqualified love is what holds my broken and wounded self as a whole. When I allow my self to be totally determined by it, let everything to pass through me and accept everything as gift [even death], it is the healing of me that happens. Darkness is never our true place. Death is never our end. To let God be God, to let God Easter in me/us (Lovett, It’s Not Over Yet) is my/our first calling.
Jesus by allowing himself to be consumed by love brought healing and wholeness and therefore make us children of light. We called to do the same. The gift received must be shared and gratitude is the appropriate response. Therefore, every time I raise the Cup and break bread with God’s people, I shall forever treasure the love that is poured out for us in the humblest manner, and always remember that I have to be broken in order to be shared.
I would like to end with an excerpt from The Quest: Letter to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke.
How should we be able to forget those ancient myths,
that is in the beginning of all peoples?
The myths about dragons, that, in the last moment
turned into princesses.
Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses,
only waiting to see us,
once beautiful and brave.
Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being,
something helpless that wants help from us.
So, you must not be frightened
if sadness rises up before you,
larger than you’ve ever seen;
if arrestedness like light and clouds shadows
passes over your hands.
And over all you do,
you must think that something is happening with you;
that life has not forgotten you
and holds you in its hands.
It will not let you fall…