It's often interesting through which dark waters we can wade only to stumble on what is less life-threatening and more about becoming dependent. Ouch, that really hurts. Our culture is indoctrinated with the suck-it-up-and-do-it-yourself mentality and all about personal freedom and independence. Of course it's a motivator and there is a time and place for that, but it is the antithesis of the spiritual path, the one devoted to becoming closer to Spirit. The ultimate task of such a life is surrender and TOTAL dependance, not separateness and independence.
I see that more clearly as I mature and have learned to shed some of that indoctrination. In my experience, I have learned that some events in our lives are meant to strip us ... of health, wealth, mobility and relationships, forcing us to grow more dependent on God. Living with chronic pain has transformed me in ways I could not have imagined or once desired. I have learned to trust and pray and maintain spiritual practices to strengthen my resolve and faith. I know Spirit much more intimately as a result.
Morrie Schwartz, who died in 1995, still inspires me. Of writer Mitch Albom's Tuesdays with Morrie fame, I remember reading about how the much-loved teacher learned to curb his independent streak and graciously accept being fed, diapered and held in the wake of ALS. I can't even imagine the humility that would take and, yet, he came to look on the handling as an infant, savoring the gentleness, care and caresses. This man was completely stripped and lived with more grace than most. Victor Frankl in Man's Search for Meaning writes about surviving the Holocaust because the Nazis could not control his faith and sense of hope. As he so eloquently puts it:
"A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which Man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of Man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when Man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way – an honorable way – in such a position Man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, "The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory."Ultimately God's love is all we need even when we feel diminished. It's hard to fathom that message when we are comfortable, complacent and busy chasing our independence.
When I spoke with my mother yesterday, we talked about how hard it is it ask for help and yet that is surrender. She said she was used to helping, which made it more difficult to be the receiver. Last summer when I was preparing to facilitate retreats on naming our gifts, I began to think about what it meant when those of us that are givers fail to receive. Aren't we depriving someone of using their gift and, can it be a gift if there's no one to receive it?
How can we learn to accept a loss of independence as becoming more spiritually mature and attuned?
• How have I struggled with maintaining my independence?
• When has that been tested?
• What happens when I surrender to that?
• To God?
• How do I receive the gifts of others?
when cast as
it's so easy
to get caught up
in being where
one is needed
it eclipses our
and we miss
to honor another's
gift and learn to
closer to Spirit
Listen to this post: