Your life is like a purse of gold:
day and night are like money changers.
Continually Time counts out that gold,
until your purse is emptied and death is here.
If you dig away at a mountain
and don’t replace anything of what you’ve taken
a desolate land is left behind.
So for every breath you breathe out,
put another in its place.
Fall in worship and draw near
so you may reach your aim.
The house without a window is Hell:
to make a window is the foundation of true religion.
Don’t thrust your axe upon every thicket:
come, use your axe to cut open a window.
photo: Assisi, January 2005
Fear is an addiction for a lot of people. They don’t know how to motivate themselves without being afraid of something. They don’t know how not to worry. When you’re living an inauthentic life, you’re going to worry because your subconscious, your spirit, knows your life has no truth. That is why we are creating so many fearful people.
The more illusory stuff we have to protect, the more fearful we will be. There’s almost a correlation between fears that people have and the false lives they live. Beneath all the layers of behavior, it is fear that brings more people into counseling than any other emotion. The counselor’s role is to help people identify what is behind their fear. Real lives start then. – Richard Rohr
I posted the above on Facebook a number of years ago. I knew the truth of this then – that it described my inner life, my false self – but was unable to admit to myself that fear and shame were mixed in with my other addictions – and pride, misguided pride, kept me from admitting it to myself, to another human being, or to God.
As Rumi wrote:
Sometimes the cold and dark of a cave
give the opening we most want
photo: Grindstone, ME – September 2019
Didn’t I say, “Don’t go there; I am your friend.
In this mirage of existence, I am the fountain of life.”
Even if your anger takes you
a hundred thousand years away,
in the end you will return, for I am your goal.
Didn’t I say, “Don’t be content with earthly forms;
I am the designer of the intimate chamber of your contentment.”
Didn’t I say, “I am the sea, and you are a single fish;
don’t strand yourself on dry land; I am your clear sea.”
Didn’t I say, “Don’t get caught
in the trap like a helpless bird;
I am the power of flight – your feet and your wings.”
Didn’t I say, “They will waylay you and make you cold;
I am the fire and your warm desire.”
Didn’t I say, “They will implant their qualities in you
until you forget that the best qualities are here.”
Didn’t I say, “You do not know from what direction
your affairs are put in order.”
I am the Creator beyond directions.
If light is in your heart, find your way home.
If you are of God, know your Benefactor.
Look at humanity, how lacking in light people are,
how they perish out of desire for perishable things.
Because of pride they keep separate from God,
dead to the spirit, living a lie.
Isn’t it amazing how their spirits are imprisoned,
while all the while they hold the key in their hands!
(Photo: Florence – July 2002)
What souls desire arrives.
We are standing up to our necks
in the sacred pool. Majesty is here.
The grains of the earth take in something
they do not understand.
Where did this come from?
It comes from where your longing comes.
From which direction?
As ripeness comes to fruit.
This answer lights a candle
in the chest of anyone who hears.
Most people only look for the way when they hurt.
Pain is a fine path to the unknowable.
But today is different.
Today the quality we call splendor
puts on human clothes, walks through the door,
closes it behind, and sits down with us
in this companionship.
Is the sweetness of the cane sweeter
than the one who made the canefield?
Behind the beauty of the moon is the moonmaker.
There is intelligence inside the ocean’s intelligence
feeding our love like an invisible waterwheel.
There is a skill to making cooking oil from animal fat.
Consider now the knack that makes eyesight
from the shining jelly of your eyes.
Dawn comes up like a beautiful meal being served.
We are hungry and distracted, so in love with the cook.
Don’t just be proud of your mustache
as you drive three donkeys down the road.
Instead of gemstones, love the jeweler.
Enough of these exhaling sounds.
Let the darling finish this
who turns listening into seeing.
– Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks)
Photo: Runaround Pond, Maine – June 2019