"Prisoner of the dark sky
The propeller blades are still...
Climbing out - climbing climbing
Five miles out - climbing climbing
Five miles out
Just hold your heading true
Got to get your finest out
Your number one anticipating you"
~ Mike Oldfield, Five Miles Out
My traversals of lands and waters, the known and the unknown, through deserts of crowds and solitude, have brought my steps well into this new habitation. I had been eager for the shock of the new to wear itself into the din of daily chores. And yet, even with tangible signs of living hope, I cannot completely refrain from looking back. It does happen, though with less frequency. There is still more area to cover. At times, the faith my friends notice is more a lack thereof, but strength notwithstanding- it is faith indeed. Like the biblical Thomas, I say tangible signs are certainly useful, at the very least providing the spiritual abstract with something solid to behold. Indeed, though it may be necessary for me to entertain more doubts now, it may not be later on. My own sea-change becomes evident to me, with each morning's venture; I tread the old familiar streets with the renewed stride of perseverance. Perhaps that is sufficiently a start, for me to believe in my own transformation.
At last, I have navigated to the other side of a protracted, albeit intermittent, sea of anguish. Most surely, the journey has never been without oases, little islands and way-stations of respite and celebration. One does need to be faithful to the letter of happenstance. And with that in mind, I am consciously acknowledging those souls whose paths mine have met, and whose steps have paralleled mine. It is a well-established dividend of friendship, that conscious presence sown inevitably reaps harvests of communion. After a certain number of years, and discovering enough concern from close friends to displace some of the isolated, solitary suffering, I became far more capable of earnestly supporting others. Perhaps it is the upside of down; the vitality of knowing despair equips a soul to savor the intangible gifts of compassion- and to witness and attend to others' lives. How I have always desired to be useful to people around me! And indeed, I am surely not so naïve as to expect that after barrages of storms there will never be another. Among the residual uses of the past is preparedness, and a prologue to the present. All need not be perfectly well-and-smooth; that would be unrealistic. The Great Apostle knew how to be brought low and how to abound, both to be full and to suffer need. About nine weeks ago, a monk suggested to me that I tout jettez en Dieu : Not simply surrender all that I am, but throw. As in a courageous leap. This thoughtful brother added that if all eternal spiritual things were accomplished in this provisional life, he'd simply retire; there'd be nothing left for him to do.
Brightness in the simplest tasks, familiar voices and embraces, and in even in the taste of food, attests to the sea-change after lengthy and battering storms. The dark night of the soul has another side, and I have traversed from desolation to consolation. I did not fully know this, even though I'd experienced this before, and had helped others through theirs. But it is clear that a transforming crucible, what can cleanse me of my obstructive attachments to selfhood, has brought me to a shore- not to encamp there, but to inhabit the new land. It is good to go to the water, and I gratefully do so, but there is a world upon which to live, to move, and to be, and be there for others. I was driven from my old purported paradise, and am evolving another storey to my soul. The depth and breadth of hope must exceed the shadows of fear, and the inviting passover is to embody the life of trust- even as a partaker of the divine nature* in this flawed world. For the indefinite time being, it is sufficient for me to know in part, to accept to see some things through darkened glass. But I am sure I shall see, as it becomes unpredictably necessary. The light after dark reveals a transmuted self , an embarkation, and suddenly evidence of having already covered some miles in this new life.
* 2 Peter 1:4