Wisdom comes most easily to those who have the courage to embrace life without judgement and are willing to not know, sometimes for a long time. It requires us to be more fully and simply alive than we have been taught to be. It may require us to suffer. But ultimately we will be more than we were before we began. There is a seed of a greater wholeness in everyone.
Rachel Naomi Remen
The blog is late this month, mostly because I forgot that it was time to write it. And then when I remembered, I struggled to find a slot for the writing. Now that I have added a few hours of studying to my day, I am finding that the gaps are fewer and further between all that has to be done.
I have been doing a lot of reading, and (two weeks ago) joined a group of people to do The Artist’s Way together. The Artist’s Way is a 12 week course, designed to nurture creativity. But it is more than that; it is a kind of roadmap for a journey into all the spaces inside ourselves that we often prefer to avoid. It is a set of guidelines for opening the doors of our own hiding places, and is full of challenges to step out of them and into the work of growing more fully into our life and work.
In my reading, I have been challenged by the lives of people who have done (or who are doing) what Remen suggests in the above quote. I’ve been reading about John Muir, who seems to have had an almost inhuman capacity for stretching himself to the limits, and whose writing I find luminous and compelling. Reading his prose always fills me with an inner fire, a reminder of how fiercely I long for wild and remote places. The Seven Storey Mountain, Thomas Merton’s biography, charts his life from his earliest childhood to his life as a Trappist monk. His honest reflections have left me thinking deeply about my own inner life, about the depth of my own faith.
Christian Wiman’s My Bright Abyss is a refreshing account of his own journey into and with faith. It has encouraged me: finding such thoughts, helpful and written with a poet’s skill. Erling Kagge’s Silence: In the Age of Noise, with its beautiful cover and atmospheric photographs, has given me a sense of the validity of my own desire for solitude and quiet. And finally, Imke Spilker’s Empowered Horses, which I am reading for the third time. I suspect I will be reading it over and over for years to come.
I am often tempted to try to carve out a life that is safe, neat and ordered, to attempt to steer clear of the broken patches in the road, or to tuck the hurts and struggles into a dusty basement in my consciousness, hoping they will stay there. But of course, this is impossible. Last night, as our little group shared the previous week’s experiences with the tasks in The Artist’s Way, I was reminded again that the only way to really live my life is to keep diving into it, all of it, over and over again. Every time I get a little bit deeper, gain a little bit more clarity, and feel a little bit less afraid and more in love with life.