Sunday, March 22, 2009
The Step Before the Light
A few weeks ago, I began my run looking for inspiration, revelation. I was searching for a greater understanding about darkness, about how to find the deeper parts of me.
I love to run up City Creek canyon. It's small, few if no cars, it has trails if I'm in the mood for trails, mile markers for the OCD part of me, occasional restrooms, and wild enough to keep you on your toes. They see cougars up that canyon. I guess that makes me excited and a little freaked out at the same time. I imagine myself running faster if encouraged by a cougar. Yes, morbid. I'm okay with that.
I parked in the aves and ran to City Creek entrance. Already I was hoping for inspiration: to see or to experience something that would open me up, something that would smack me in the face. I decided not to force it but rather just try to stay in the moment and let it come.
Mile one: the scenery was nice. The day was beautiful. I could hear the brook, smell the earth coming back to life. It was beautiful I was feeling good but no revelation.
Mile two: uphill. Lungs full of air. Muscles working. My feet pounding a rhythm on the pavement in some relation to my heartbeat. No revelation. Just let it come. Just be present.
Mile three-four: elevation, no revelation.
At four and a half miles, I turned around and headed back down. I felt good. The sun was in my face. Suddenly, I could see so much more than just my feet on pavement. My mind opened. I saw a mouse scurrying to put her house in order after a long winter. I saw the sun. I saw all the faces of bikers, runner, walkers (bipeds and quadrupeds), saunterers. I saw trees and sky. I felt alive.
A single ray of inspiration came just then. My own voice came into my head that said, "What is the most obvious thing you can sense right now?" I raised my eyes and was met directly with the sun. "Oh yeah, this week is the week of the spring equinox. Of course! What does that mean?" And for the next few miles, my mind just opened and allowed all that spring and finding balance meant to me to warm my mind.
This was all still prep work. I wondered why I didn't get any inspiration on the way up. It seems like it's usually on the way down that I get the inspiration. Maybe because on the way down, we're not trying so hard. Maybe its because the softness about the experience has set in, creating that vital chemistry between effort and ease, now perfect enough to illuminate the soul. Or before that moment, like The Smiths say, "you just haven't earned it yet, baby."
Then, right as I was passing through the gate, the floodgate of revelation opened up in my mind. And in rapid succession, several things I'd read, scripture, poems, lectures, thoughts, all linked themselves together to form one long chain of brilliant revelation.
You only receive the witness after the trial of your faith. (Book of Mormon scripture)
Faith is walking into the darkness, willing to keep one foot moving in front of the other with nothing but hope ahead. (me)
To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight.
And find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
And is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.
To know the Dark by Wendell Berry
It's like stepping out of the boat into the darkness, onto the water.
And how we are all preparing for that abrupt waking
and that calling and that moment when we have to say yes! . . .
So that when we finally step out of the boat
toward them [our true love or True Self] we find, everything holds us,
and everything confirms our courage. . .
And you'll walk across any territory,
and any darkness, however fluid,
and however dangerous to take the one
hand and the one life, you know belongs in yours
True Love by David Whyte
Faith is walking onto surfaces that you know will not hold your weight as you walk toward your True Self, . . . "the stranger who has loved you/ all your life, whom you ignored for another, who knows you by heart." --Love After Love by Derek Walcott
Because it's this True Self that recognizes:
those random paths
Everyone who walks
* by Antonio Machado
And . . .
The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves, they find their own order... the continuous thread of revelation. Eudora Welty
As I ran, I thought I need to start running with a pen. I found that the answers often come on the way back down the mountain, on the way home and not at the summit. Maybe well after the odyssey, maybe when we're 80 years old, rocking on our porch and wondering if it was all worth it. Yet, we have to be willing to climb and sweat and bleed, to show our willingness, our faith, before we are perhaps humble enough or open enough to pull out the light that was already there. . .(Just hiding in the dark 'cuz it's scared--The Cowboy Junkies) or asleep.
As I was rubbing my jaw, having been smacked so beautifully and fiercely from this revelation, decidedly deeper than inspiration, I realized that the run up was to show the Powers that Be that I was willing. I was running into the gate of the temple, not out, when I received my revelation. It was the craft necessary to invite the muse upon my shoulder. I found that darkness is the step right before the light.
This, in part, is what our asana practice is all about. It's the step, "very arduous and humbling and joyful,/by which we arrive at the ground at our feet,/and learn to be at home." A Spiritual Journey by Wendell Berry
It's the step before the light.
See you in class!