“A man will renounce any pleasures you like but he will not give up his suffering.” – G. I. Gurdjieff
We become so attached to our stories, we can fail to see the sun rise as we huddle together in the cold, or we can miss the oasis in our burning desert. Times are difficult, brothers and sisters, and only going to get worse, from the looks of it. There are forces at work well beyond our personal control, and yet, we are part of life, and we contribute to the larger story as well. Can changing our relationship to our inner story shift our relationship to war, unemployment, food crises, floods and famines? Yes. It does not change the outer reality all the way, of course – we are but one small part of the great whole – but even a small change inside can make a difference. We can stop clinging to our version of the story, take a breath, look around ourselves and ask, “How can I act today?”
What helps us with this change? In the hero’s journey, supernatural aid is offered. Supernatural aid, in myth and fiction, is often quite dramatic. In ordinary life it is not always so. Sometimes supernatural aid is help that is inspired, perhaps, by something that is extraordinary, but other times it seems deeply ordinary, deeply natural… we just failed to notice it before. Perhaps then, it is our ability to notice that is touched by divine forces, by something special, by something that lifts our eyes from the suffering of our story for just one moment, so we can see the sky.
Shifts in consciousness don’t always take a cosmic two by four. Sometimes they take a dragonfly moving through the air, or a child’s laugh, or a friend saying just the right thing that snaps us to attention. Sometimes they are brought by the appreciation of a simple glass of water, or the feel of a breeze on our faces, or catching a particular piece of music. The important thing is our ability to receive.
Many of us know the story of the person trapped during flooding, who prays for divine assistance. A strong person offers to carry them out, then, as the water rises, a canoe comes by, finally when they have climbed up to the roof, a helicopter… the person refuses all, waiting for God. God, of course, was in all of these, the person simply failed to pay attention. The person was trapped in a story of suffering, and part of that was the need to feel so special in her suffering that only a dramatic supernatural rescue would suffice.
What ordinary things can bring us back to attention? What can help us see our stories? Take a breath with me, and look within. There is something else present, beneath the tales we tell. There is a living spark awaiting the bellows, ready to catch the fire of our interest, ready to bring warmth and comfort where it is needed. There is a drop, ready to become the refreshing draught, to quench our thirsty longing.
Today, I will strive to pay attention to the miracles that are happening all around me. I like that phrase, “pay attention” it means that there is payment involved. That payment is in my effort to remain open when I might otherwise wish to shut down. That payment is my presence when I might rather run away. That payment is morning meditation that helps me remain centered enough to notice in the first place. That payment, luckily, is rewarded by my connection to that spark, that drop, that bit of light in the dark field of my being. It is my beacon home to my Self, and becomes a lamp for my journey.
Let us hold up lanterns for each other.
[Speaking of journeys, I send blessings to our brother Isaac Bonewits as he traverses the great beyond. May he and his family be blessed.]
(The Hermit is from the Cosmic Tribe Tarot.)