Monday, May 4, 2015

The Seeker and the Sought

"Early Morning"
- At the Desert Retreat House -

Yesterday I had an opportunity to re-watch Boyhood, one of last year's award-winning Hollywood blockbusters - actually I think I liked it a lot more the second time around.  Filmed over a period of more than 12 years, the movie traces the life of a young boy as he grows up and eventually goes to college.  Throughout the movie it is clear that this boy is a "seeker" in life.  From a very early age he is always looking for "meaning" in life and he keeps coming up short in the answers he is able to find.

Throughout his young life the boy is given all sorts of sage advice about how to succeed in life--advice from his teachers, parents, family, friends, bosses, neighbors, even advice from his enemies. They tell him to develop a good work ethic, get good grades, follow the rules. The boy gets answers about love, life, sex, relationships, he even gets answers about "God;" but, none of these answers ever  seem to really work for him as he looks at himself and at all the people in his life and decides that, in the end everyone is "messed up. " He decides that, regardless of how hard you try, no matter how good your work ethic or how ambitious you are, no matter how much education or what church you attend, it all seems sort of "messed up" to him.

In the very last scene of this very interesting movie, this boy is just about to begin his years in college, and he finds himself sitting in a beautiful desert canyon, experiencing an unusually poignant moment of deep tranquility and inner peace as he chats with a new-found friend, when it suddenly strikes him: "All my life people have been telling me to "seize the moment," "carpe diem,"  make good use of your time and talents to be happy in life;  but I think it's the other way around, it's the moment that seizes us if we are open to it."

What a wonderful revelation for someone to come to at such an early age in life. We may spend all our days desperately seeking answers, searching for meaning, deep wisdom, ultimate truth, and all the while we are searching, something that is much greater than any one of us -a universal energy,  a Higher Power, "God," is actually seeking us out, pulling us out of our tiny little selves into something far greater. So, one day we can be sitting in a desert canyon and suddenly we get surprised - wisdom. truth and happiness come to us.'

In reality we think we are the seeker as we pursue meaning in life, but in the larger scope of things, we are the ones who are being sought.

I am reminded of a beautiful line of poetry written generations ago by Rumi:

Listen, O drop, give yourself up without regret,
and in exchange gain the Ocean.
Listen, O drop, bestow upon yourself this honor,
and in the arms of the Sea be secure.
Who indeed should be so fortunate?
An ocean wooing a drop!

What you seek is seeking you.

I think about my own pursuit of meaning and wisdom.  I have been seeking "God" throughout my entire life; but in a very real sense this pursuit has often been pretty egocentric.  I have searched for the mysterious and abiding energy of the entire universe to come into little old "me," to fill up my tiny ego as if "I" was the center of it all and "God" was out there as fuel for my own personal fulfillment. But, like that boy in the movie, I think I may have had it all reversed. I'm not the seeker, out to seize the day, I am the one who is being sought, and the moment is seizing me.  

So I sit here in my desert canyon and I wait to be amazed by it all.  I pray that I may be open to the Seeker, surprised by the moment, drawn into a power that is far beyond "me."

Who indeed should be so fortunate? 
An ocean wooing a drop!

Listen to my podcast: "Desert Wisdom"


  1. What a beautiful poem by Rumi. I enjoyed your thoughts too. The idea of being seized by the moment rather than vice versa rings true to me. It seems I remember Paul Tillich speaking of being grasped by the truth. In the New Testament is spoken of a relationship- with the divine when we will see as we are seen. All these wonderful ways of trying to express that which is more from another paradigm than the present paradigm give us wonderful mystical poetry.

    1. such a deeply insightful comment--thank you.