Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Seeking, Searching, Looking

"Wilderness Beauty"
- At the Desert Retreat House -

In this Advent season I know many people who go off to some quiet retreat space (often out in some isolated wilderness) in preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. In my own life, these December days before the Christmas holiday have always been a time for doing some serious soul-searching, seeking deeper meaning in life as I look for a closer relationship with “God.”

But, of course, you don’t have to be preparing for Christmas to be engaged in a process of soul searching. Every single one of us is on some sort of deeper soul-searching quest for meaning in life, it’s in our human nature to seek transcendence.  As I see it, regardless of what path we walk in life, in some fashion we are all looking for “God.”

I am reminded of something teacher and writer, Parker Palmer, once said about the human soul-searching endeavor:

The human soul is essentially shy – just like a wild animal.
It will flee from the crowd and seek safety in the deep underbrush.
If we want to see a wild animal, we know that the last thing we should do
is to go crashing through the woods yelling for it to come out.
But if we walk quietly into the wilderness and sit under the base of a tree,
breathing with the earth and fading into our surroundings,
the wild creature will eventually show up.

People often look for deeper meaning and search for “God” by going on a retreat, saying prayers, reading books or “thinking really hard,” but more often than not, the harder you look, the less you find. There is a Zen saying:

When you look for the ‘way’ you become far from it.
When you seek the ‘way’ you turn away from it all the more

In our search for meaning, all we need to do is not look so hard, just sit quietly and wait.  The search for deeper truth and greater wisdom is like sitting quietly under a tree in the wilderness with an uncluttered mind and an open heart, available to each and every moment as our life unfolds. When we do this, “Wisdom” comes to us.

“God” seeks us far more than we seek “God.” The universal energy of Love is always on a quest looking to enfold us and to embrace us, and all we need to do is not resist it.

In a beautiful poem/prayer, Islamic mystic, Rumi, puts it this way:

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!

In these December days of Advent when a whole lot of soul-searching is going on, I think of myself as a drop in the great Ocean of “God” – the Ocean of Love in whom we all live and move and have our being. I seek union with that Ocean, deeper Wisdom, greater Truth,  but I also rest in the comfort of a deeper assurance that “God” seeks me even more.

Who indeed should be so fortunate?
An Ocean is wooing a drop.

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