“Your writing has changed lately,” a friend who reads these blogs said last week. “Is that related to the retreat you went on?”
I have been thinking I ought to write a more accessible, timely post, something about the weather we have endured here in Kansas, the contentious world of politics, an entertaining piece about my dog, or a list: Ten Best Practices for Prayer. Copy Writer tells me that lists always get lots of views and shares.
Yet, if this is a blog about prayer, it ought to reflect the experience of one who is praying. So at least for today I bring you another update from the silence. One word is really all I have to say: longing, deep vast yearning, reaching toward what I cannot really name.
And as some of you know, my friends, such longing is really kind of awful. Awful in the sense of how it stretches and stretches one ever beyond one’s self. Awful in the sense that it has no end. Awful in the sense that it is out of one’s control or naming. Awful in the sense that it is love that ever seeks its fulfillment in the beloved.
The writer of the Cloud of Unknowing called such prayer a naked intention of love directed to God alone.
A Failure to Communicate
I would like to stand and hold my balance on the threshold
with the wind whistling through the space
where my heart used to be
and watch the birth and death of beings
the coming and going of existence
and somehow fasten myself in that place,
the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.
I have had it with these little cages
we stuff full of significance
and string out across a page
like a rumbling circus parade of gaudy wagons drawn by camels.
The penned beasts of meaning pace back and forth
while we snap the whip and totally miss the show.
Nor is communication a fortune cookie “thought for the day.”
Flirting on the edge of my awareness
where words dissolve
and nothing separates
I bang against the bars.
Let me out.
Set me free of me.
Why I long to escape the confines of language I do not know
for when I meet you there,
in that other country, our native land
I will have nothing to say or offer
because you will already have all you ever need.
I tell you this: it is more profitable to your soul’s health, more worthwhile, more pleasing to God and the hosts of heaven – yes, more helpful to your friends, natural and spiritual, dead or alive – that you should have this blind outreaching love to God himself, this secret love pressing upon the cloud of unknowing, that you should have this as your spiritual affection, than that you should contemplate and gaze on the angels and saints in heaven and hear the happy music of the blessed. The Cloud of Unknowing and Other Works
Perhaps our love is expressed through believing in what we cannot see, and proving it by acting accordingly.
Thanks Curtis. Lovely. I can make things more difficult than they need be.
and Kabir says it too, that the longing is what does the work
Thanks, Jenn. Of course Kabir needs to be part of the conversation! Thank goodness it is longing that does the work and not us.
I am a quiet reader, a long-time fan; thank you. Your longing reaches into me and touches the longing that is in me. But sometimes I cannot be in that place. I need also to laugh out loud, swirl around the room, reach up as far as I can. At the end of my prayer, I say, “Thank you.” After the longing, the reaching, I need to claim what is offered. I believe that the process of claiming is vital to strengthening the string, path, molecules, the God-in-me, with the creator God and the God in you.
I love the image of you swirling and dancing and reaching and claiming! Beautiful.