“And it’s me who’s too weak, and it’s me who’s too shy to ask for the thing I love. But I love. But I love. But I love.” -Paula Cole, Me
I felt so awake and sure of something coming home from the Buddhist Peace Fellowship’s Thirtieth Anniversary event Saturday night. The something was ineffable. It was tears filling the soft open pores of my cheeks. It was a deep connection to my heart.
“Sometimes it is necessary to re-teach a thing its loveliness,” says a Galway Kinnell poem. Sometimes it is necessary to know something in the heart before its concreteness can be seen or even named. The calls are not supposed to be visible or even nameable from the beginning; they are to be felt. For it’s the feeling that leads us to recognize, be with, and eventually – when the time is right – act upon inner knowledge. The fluidity of the not yet visible visions give space for creating something new.
I sang aloud all the way driving home: Lakota ceremonial songs and the song “Me”, whose refrain is a healing chant on behalf of my tortured teenage soul, the one who then too was so sure of something. The one who knew there must be something better than my high school reality of self-hatred and isolation, but didn’t know what it was.
All my life I have listened to calls – a call to go to go to an urban college, a call to try a third high school in as many years, calls to quit jobs, calls to go on retreats, a call to move to the Bay Area. Calls to enlarge my territory. Inner has always lead me to outer.
The BPF event took place in a Presbyterian Church in Berkeley. Sitting in a pew like the ones of the Methodist and Catholic churches of my childhood, I opened a Bible for the first time in several years. My heart broke open to the literature alive on the pages. There were no stomach jabs for every reference to damnation, bloodshed, and oppression. Instead from a place of intimacy with the Divine within me, I read the words fully aware of my own experience and felt free to pick and choose what I read, what I believed.
The words of BPF Executive Director Zenju Earthlyn Manuel – one of the keynote speakers – landed in conversation with excerpts from passages I leafed through at random: Isaiah, Psalms, Proverbs, Lamentations, 1 Corinthians, Job. I heard her say the path of freedom involves awareness, leads to intimacy, and connects us to engagement with the world and that it’s possible to celebrate the uncertainty of these times, to see our present moment as a time of creativity and transformation. My heart opened hearing her words born of self-investigation. The power to reframe, to reclaim, to “re-teach a thing its loveliness” reconnected me to the beauty in the world and in my life right now. I left that church as wide as a field.
It’s not the “and its me who’s too weak…to ask for the thing I love” it’s the “but I love.” It’s the But I Love, I realized after I sang myself home from the event. It is the noble intention of the heart to express its portion, and I can focus on that intention. I can ask that each pulsation of the Love in my heart will enlarge, unfold, and heal me even when the “and its me whose too weak” seems more real than the “but I love.”
At age 27, I am in the midst of my first Saturn Returns, a time of unprecedented challenge in my life. I’m holding this time differently now after the inspiration I received during the BPF event. Here’s the reframing: I’m in a season of unprecedented clearing as I walk the path of creating an authentic life. I’m the hero in my journey to and through the dark, greeting the obstacles as signposts for how to dance with Life. I matter to Life, and I am part of its vast, ever-flowing Stream.
Here’s to Saturn Returning. Here’s to bounty of my heart. Here’s to being naked and unarmed and relishing the call of something not yet seen.
Meditation: Take several deep breaths. Sink into your heart. If your heart could give a speech, what would it say? Write it, move it, tell a listening ear (could be your own).