Friday, April 10, 2015

Artificial Limits

"Undeveloped Wilderness"
- Steps Away From the Desert Retreat House -

The neighborhood where we live is nestled right up next to a desert wilderness sanctuary- a vast expanse of land owned by the federal government and local Indian tribes, and so it will always remain essentially undeveloped. 

My house is located in a rather developed neighborhood with lots of houses and carefully planned streets and yet I can literally walk a few steps from my front door and find myself standing "smack-dab" in the middle of that totally undeveloped desert wilderness - fields of rocky stone, cacti, bushes, and towering mountains  

This morning as I sat in the confines of my own little meditation garden along the side of our home, I noticed that it is all so very enclosed, neatly organized, beautiful and yet highly controlled.  Like most of the houses on our street, our property is surrounded by an outer wall and a gate that gives us  privacy.  Carefully planted flowers grow in our gardens along with manicured trees and strategically placed bushes. 

I can look at my house and fool myself into thinking that this property and the houses on this street always looked like this; however, less than 100 years ago, our neighborhood didn't even exist. There were no houses here, no streets, no manicured gardens. This was just undeveloped wilderness, without borders, without carefully planned neighborhoods, walled-in homes and organized streets. Less then 100 years ago the garden where I sit was part of that wilderness just exactly like the territory across the street from me.

It strikes me that these walls around my house provide me with a helpful reminder about the spiritual journey.

Lots of people live their entire lives shut off within the confines of walls that enclose them - within the boundaries of a carefully constructed tiny little ego, sitting behind a desk, sitting inside a home or workplace, sitting inside limited ideas and myopic perspectives.  Living within these walls people so often delude themselves into believing that the world in which they live "is" the real world, unable or unwilling to see that their walls are little more than artificial limitations keeping them from seeing the big picture. 

Priest and author, Richard Rohr once said:

The problem is that we think we are separated from one another.

Actually I think this is exactly our problem - it lies at the core of our human dilemma. We have fooled ourselves into actually believing that we live in a separated reality - separate from other nations, separate from other races, separate from those who seem different, separate from the neighbor who lives next door, even separate from the vast expansive world of nature to which we all belong. All this separation is a false illusion that limits our vision as we travel through the journey of life. 

The poet Rainer Marie Rilke describes what is "real" about the deepest places in the human heart. When you scrape away all the artificial limits that human beings erect, every soul desires,

To see everything,
and ourselves in everything
healed and whole 
forever.



Listen to my podcast: "Desert Wisdom"














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