What I know is that during difficult times, we are taken to the very edge of what is familiar. If we are true to the experience, that is, if we are present and awake, then we enter a land where there are no footholds or landmarks. This is the landscape of longing.
To live in this unfamiliar landscape takes tremendous effort, and it is here that many women wonder if they have made a mistake, done something wrong, and fear might urge us to override just staying in this dry terrain.
The heart, the body, feels something missing but can’t quite put a finger on it. After all our efforts, we realize that stillness is all that we have.
I know this place of stillness. I have visited it again and again, when my life calls me deeper. It calls from one’s depths to listen, to be. I have found that in this empty space, something powerful takes place: the sacred energy of life can flow through us. So longing and stillness are connected.
Recently I tried to push through a project but somewhere, knew I was going about it the wrong way. And then I had a dream. It showed me the power of longing in the midst of life's challenges.
In the dream a woman is explaining to me that I had put myself in a little box. That is why this was happening. And then she went into another room and began to sing. It was an intimate, tender song full of love.
The dream continued, with a feeling of not being able to keep hold of my checkbook, or my cell phone, both of which I needed. But then, I am shown, far in the distance, a white pyramid. Each time I looked at the pyramid, I was lifted up and out. This feeling of upliftment was a clear space, and free.
When I awoke, I knew that the pyramid had to do with longing. I could value the longing, and keep my attention and awareness on this inner wisdom even as changes were occurring in my life.
I thought that this dream was showing me a way to be. There is such difficulty in our world now. The earth is needing our love and attention. And for many people, their lives are going through change. It might seem more important to do our outer work for the world. But what we do not value is how our attention on the sacredness of life, sustains life.
Several years ago I had an experience that showed me how precious is our attention. I was standing up in a room in a daytime shelter, filled with 45 women, to introduce our new program. They were talking and the noise level was intense. I didn't know how to convey the value of women meeting together, sitting in silence, sharing, and speaking from the heart. I didn't yet trust that this could be helpful to all women.
But then I began to talk about suffering, both in my own life and the women I have met from countries all around the world. How women were finding and awakening to who they are, realizing a power that they didn't know they have. I said that every woman is sacred.
The room became absolutely still. Not a word was spoken. As I looked into the eyes and faces of the women, I realized that no one had ever reflected to them their sacredness. It was as if life was listening, through them. I cannot explain how I knew this, but the sacred came alive.
And all this because there was an emptiness in the room. And I knew that I could do nothing, but simply speak from my heart.
I recently found a poem I want to share. It's called The Singing Bowl, and here is part of the poem. It has to do with becoming empty, waiting, opening, all qualities of longing that open into stillness, into a landscape where the sacred can enter.
… Start with the very breath you breathe in now …
Stay with the music, words will come in time.
Slow down your breathing. Keep it deep and slow.
Become an open singing-bowl, whose chime
Is richness rising out of emptiness,
And timelessness resounding into time.
And when the heart is full of quietness
Begin the song exactly where you are.
– By Malcom Guite