I want to begin this morning from where I actually am. Here in this body.
As I examine my life, I can see that I don’t understand anywhere near what I usually think I understand. I need to become much closer to myself in order to understand anything at all; and the outside world puts so many demands on me that I often forget the intimacy that’s necessary in order to be something more than just a set of reactions to what’s around me.
This morning I woke up very early and lay in bed, fully engaged with the sensation of myself and nothing more. There is a sacred energy that creates life and being and manifests in every cell of the body; and sometimes, in the morning, before anything else happens, it’s possible to live there and sense the breathing and sense that energy.
At times like this, mortality is more apparent that at other times. There is a sense that one could die at any moment; and then what? Have I lived honorably? Have I attended to my responsibilities? Do I truly care about anyone besides myself?
I need to ask these questions constantly, but especially when it is dark and things are very quiet and I can form a relationship with myself that is the specific and doesn’t make all the assumptions I make after I get up out of bed and start pushing through life like a bulldozer.
I keep centering my life again and again back on the inner questions raised by this more inwardly intelligent relationship. There truly is a cloud of unknowing that exists between me and God; I press against it with prayer, but perhaps I don’t even understand how to do this. I have to learn how to pray over and over again, almost every day, even though some might think I was some kind of expert at it. Spiritual regeneration requires a perpetual effort of renewal; yet my identity wants everything to remain the same, over and over. That, of course, is the original meaning of the Latin root of the word identity.
If I think that doing the same things over and over the same way creates my Being, then I haven’t honored my life. Something new must happen in me; and it demands a much more intimate and attentive examination of this energy which fills my body.
It is what gives me life; perhaps I can learn to respect it.
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.