My Lenten Focus: Finding My Faith in the Dust
It’s a common failing, an ordinary human characteristic: we prefer to see Beauty and avert our eyes from the Ugly and Uncomfortable.
Common, but not very helpful when we need to really see What Is.
I have trouble seeing What Is. I have always excused myself, saying that I lack awareness, that I am so internally focused that I am able to ignore the chaos surrounding me. I have said this with great pride, boasting of my ability to seal myself into an imaginary bubble of peace and quiet, happily floating through my day regardless of the turmoil outside my secret spaces.
Admittedly, the ability to focus amid chaos is very useful in a busy, noisy office. The ability to find inner peace and internal quiet when you have four energetic children in a small house can save a young mother’s sanity. But when you use that ability to tune out the world to keep yourself from seeing things that you just really don’t want to see…well, then, you’ve just lost your grip on reality.
And that’s what I’ve done.
I’ve gotten so good at NOT seeing What Is that I have created a complete alternate reality. I’ve painted my own background set in my life, and none of it is true, none of it is real.
“You may have expected that enlightenment would come Zap! instantaneous and permanent. This is unlikely. After the first ‘ah-ha’ experience, it can be thought of as the thinning of a layer of clouds.” -Ram Dass
Last night I had an epiphany. I don’t see What Is for a very good reason, because if I saw What Is then I would have to do something about it.
Ouch. Let me say that again: If I saw What Is then I would have to do something about it.
And here I am again. AGAIN! I’ve lost focus, I’m not seeing What Is, AGAIN. I’m covering the same damn ground again. And AGAIN.
“Keeping a journal, has taught me that there is not so much new in the interior life as one sometimes thinks. When you reread your journal, you find out that your newest discovery is something you found out five years ago. Still, it is true that one penetrates deeper and deeper into the same ideas and the same experiences.” -Thomas Merton
If you go to my quilt blog and type into the Search box the word “focus,” you will find that I write a blog post about my lack of focus and my need to be more mindful (along with a vow to do so) at least once every six months.
And each and every time it feels like the very FIRST time I have ever seen that I am not seeing What Is and am allowing myself to remain asleep and unaware.
And here I am again. AGAIN!
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” -Rumi
When you really look, when you really see what’s there, What Is, then you have to do something about it. You have to care, you have to answer the call into action, you have to hurt, you have to feel, you find your limitations, you crash into your failings and trip over your own self-centered attachments and desires.
It hurts. It’s not fun, it’s not pretty. It’s shaming and hard and real.
But it is in that dust, the dust that you brush off of yourself as you reach out your hand to God and allow Him to lift you up — again, and again, and again. — it is in that dust that you find new clarity, new focus, new love.
Sometimes it hurts. It’s not always fun or pretty. It can feel shaming and hard and real. But it is What Is and it is Love. Again.