Oh, friends, I don't know where to post this, so I'm starting a new topic. It's probably already out there somewhere, but I've no patience to search the whole board. So --
Do you ever feel such a yearning to just dissolve into God that it is almost unbearable? I hardly know what to do with myself, hardly know how to live like this. Sometimes it's so hard to just go through the motions of daily living, working, parenting, even relating to people I love...I think maybe I should have been a hermit. I just want to go somewhere and get lost in God. Then I think that the love of God isn't meant to be an escape from life, or to separate me from other people. But I have such a fierce, terrible yearning to be "oned" with God, (as Julian put it,) that I can hardly stand being human any more...can hardly stand having an ego that keeps me separated from the Beloved. And like I said, I don't know how to live like this!
Any ideas or reflections from kindred spirits would help, I think. Or not.
In Prayer I know the oneness with my heart. And the separation from the Beloved is dissolved! Momentarily. Nevertheless these are glimpses, at least for me, though the Presence is always there.
Perhaps at one level, the Veil that creates a separation, however strong or slight, are precisely the essential qualities of our own humanity? They are what Anchor us to life.
Yes, I think that you're right. The Hindu teacher "The Mother" said something like "We are all one with God, but we don't know it. And it is precisely the part of us that doesn't know it that we identify as ourselves." That sounds a little like what you're saying when you say that the "veil" is made up of the essential qualitites of our humanity.
I know that we can find God by plunging deeply into life, living fully in the here & now, not in trying to escape from life or our own humanity. But still, I think maybe the hermits were on to something... withdrawing from all the external distractions. What is the hermitic urge? Is it a calling from God? How can one possibly live it out, tied as we are to our lives?
And --I also know that even if every outer distraction were removed, it's the inner distractions, the incessant yammering of my own ego and willfullness, that still would get in the way.
It's sin, isn't it, not in the sense of bad stuff we do, but in the sense of "separation from God." It just becomes so unbearable to be separated. Maybe that's why Paul says, "Wretched man that I am..." and "To live is Christ and to die is gain." I find that I want to die (not literally --not yet!) ...but how do you decide to die?
revkah, I, too, know what you're talking about, and have had times in my life when I could scarcely function. I've come to view these times as enormously important -- summons by God to deeper surrender. As our humanity is anchored in the sacred humanity of Christ, there is an incarnational aspect to this; we will not lose our humanity and become "spiritual" instead. The operative paradigm is theosis, and there are times when it's not simply a theological construct, but an experiential reality. We do experience the grace of the indwelling Spirit moving our spirit to deeper love and surrender, and it's good if we can find ways to give consent to this -- a retreat, more times for prayer, etc. Not to worry about it going on forever; we are permitted to "come up for air" and get our daily duties done.
You will be taught how to "die" in the sense of which you speak by Christ himself. Death belongs to him now, and in our rebirth in him, we are drawn by love to die to all that has no place in this new life. Let it happen. It's very good!
I've had times of strong yearning to be a hermit too.
Like Phil, I feel most of them were all very important, and I 'emerged' much refreshed or more surrendered, more centered, clear-headed, etc.
However, I've also experience a sick kind of need to withdraw that *felt* like it was from God, but it was more of a symptom of low-grade depression. At the time, however, you could never have convinced me that I was depressed and yearning to escape, but in retrospect, I was clearly unable to integrate parts of myself into a functioning whole. In particular, the demands of mothering two small, active boys with little perceived support was propelling me to seek refuge in what I thought was union with God. I simply lacked a kind of balance, I think.
I heard that St. John of the Cross described a stage of his growth that involved a kind of withdrawal of energy from his senses and into a yearning for union with God. When I heard this, I wondered if this was what I experienced too. Last year, there was a period of a few months when I felt all the 'energy' that connected me to the world through my five senses was literally sucked dry and directed into what felt like a blissful union with God. I would walk around in a trance-like state, barely able to do the daily routines...people would say, "How are you doing, Shasha?" and I'd almost laugh as it felt there was no Shasha and no 'doing.'
To this day, I don't really know what that was about...it felt natural and right at the time, but it caused a lot of destruction in my family life which I deeply regret.
I'm not at all suggesting what your current yearning is about, revkah. I just wanted to share with folks that I've known both healthy and a kind of sick yearning to be a hermit and question myself now when I feel that impulse.
much peace to you,
It is interesting that you see, in hindsight, that the particular state you describe was destructive for some relationships. But not necessarily so in terms of process.
There are many kinds of emtiness, for lack of a better world.
At ceain times we can become attached to non-attachment, if you will. Your description of energy being drained away from your senses might seem to confirm this. I think it is an in-between phase that it is very important to be watchful of.
Yes, very frustrating and all that I can do is rest
in the arms of Sweet Jesus. For the first time in my life, I went nowhere on Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year's Eve.
All I want to do is read Carmelites and texts from India and Tibet. Woe is me. Praying on my knees a great deal and prostrating myself and it's all so
immature, but that's just where I am at. This too shall pass...
It helps to turn the thoughts toward others. Spoke to a man with AIDS for a couple of hours and have been thinking of him and his problems, which are considerable. This seems to help.
shalom, mm <*))))><
These threads on travelling and withdrawing are very telling. Shalomplace is now an online retreat for would be hermits and pilgrims. Maybe it's the time of year or something.
I think it epitomises that common yearning amongst us to experience the fullness of life in God. I certainly have rather romantic notions about living in a forest or in a cave on top of a mountain. But I tend to think that my vision of live would be crystallized in those circumstances, that I would see more clearly or deeply into something - mystery perhaps. I don't think I would necessarily be closer to God because I feel that closeness is achieved in daily life now, in prayer and reading, in family, in work etc. It's just that the idea of living as a hermit really speaks to who I am. I don't see it as escapist, more an embrace of the solitary.
When I was 10, my primary teacher went around the class asking everybody what they wanted to be when they grew up. I said I wanted to be a hermit. Everybody laughed. It didn't put me off but at least I realised what I was up against.
Ah, thank you Phil, this is very comforting and rings very true. And I so want it.
I also appreciate the sharing from the rest of you, so much! Like Shasha said on another thread, we "misfits" need each other...and I don't think misfit is a perjorative term. I just find myself out of sync with the needs and values of much of the human race, even my fellow Christians and my beloved spouse. (Like Stephen wanting to be a hermit at a very young age, I wanted to be a cloistered nun, but was told that little Protestant girls couldn't do such a thing.)
Like you, Shasha, I challenge myself to discern a depressive withdrawal from a Spirit-led need to go apart and just sink into God. For me, the important distinction is that the yearning for God is so passionate-- the very opposite of depressed emotion, which I have known at other times in my life. Also, it comes first, and leads to the urgent desire to withdraw, rather than feeling an overwheming urge to run away first, and then thinking that God might be a nice place to escape to.
I like Phil's reminder that we can "come up for air" and function to a degree -- I seem to be able to do just enough at work to get by. It also makes a big difference what it is that needs doing. A compassionate conversation like the one MM mentioned is one thing, going through the motions of "making Christmas" for my kids was quite another. (I'm envious of your solitary Christmas, MM. I can also relate to your quote from Charlie Brown - AAAAARGH! -- and your mention of prostration & tears before God. Well, I guess you didn't mention tears, but I know I have lots of them)
Thanks for this whole thread.
There is something about Stephen's sharing that brings tears to my eyes, tears of sympathy, difference, insight, relief.
Sometimes in routine life, I get what I need or wish for before I feel the conscious desire for it. It creates a jaded, overstuffed, too satiated sense. I want to retreat in order to pause and feel desire that is not too quickly satiated.
Sometimes I get too at home. I forget that there is a sense in which I am am always a guest, even here in "my chair." Even in bed with "my wife." I want to go to a place where everyone treates me as a guest, just to remind myself of the reality.
Time to wash some dishes.
Is that why you want to get on that bus, Ryan? So that you would have the sense of not being at home, of knowing yourself to be a stranger? Because a retreat done at a retreat house could very soon begin to feel quite comfortable (at least it does for me...the monastery feels more like home than home, sometimes.) To fully, mindfully experience what it is to be a guest on this planet...sounds wonderful and scary/hard all at the same time.
You say, "I want to retreat in order to pause and feel desire that is not too quickly satiated."
Not me! I want to be satisfied, right now! Truly, I'm finding this overwhelming desire to be real uncomfortable, but maybe that's a good thing. My spiritual director keeps telling me to be attentive, be attentive. And I just want to wiggle out from under the desire, escape the longing, dodge the yearning, and fall right into the arms of God...held, safe, secure, and home.
Wouldn't it be nice if it didn't have to be online? It would be great to meet all of you and actually, physically go on a retreat with you...except that in my present state of mind I wouldn't want to talk to any of you! Just nod, smile, and sit together in silent meditation.
I would love to sit silently with you, nod, smile and meditate revkah
Yearning for God. Does this ever describe me during/after the busiest and most hectic month of the year! This December has been one chaotic month. My wife had her colon removed on the 11th and has needed a lot of help at home since. Then at work we lost one of our full time staff. So I ended up working Christmas Eve, Christmas day and Boxing Day. Yikes! Yearning for interior time! Quiet time alone with God! Boyo! Could I use some of that right now. So, in answer to your question Revka, �Do you ever feel such a yearning to just dissolve into God that it is almost unbearable?� Absolutely!!! "That would be me," as I often say to my wife after she calls me a brat.
I'm curious Revkah, have you ever felt, for a brief time, this "out from under desire" experience you now rhapsodize? If not, how do you know it exists? If so, do you remember by what path you discovered it? (No need ot reply )
Ryan, I hope your question isn't facetious ("rhapsodize"?!) because I think it's a good one. I pondered it all day yesterday. All I can say is that yes, I have felt it, but no, I don't know by what path. It was more in the nature of pure gift...and it wasn't even really the cessation of desire, so much as relief from the anxious quality that desire sometimes takes on. It was a kind of graced awareness and assurance of what is always deeply true...that we ARE in the arms of God, safe, secure, cherished and held. (Funny, but the "safe" seems more important to me than the "cherished" ...probably because my childhood was so unsafe.)
I know it's kind of a trite example, but for me it really is analagous to the sun breaking through the clouds. Once in Michigan we went 27 days without seeing the sun, and we almost forgot that it existed. We were just dying for some sunshine! Intellectually we knew that the sun was still there, and intellectually (and by faith) I know that I am always in God and God in me. But to experience it...to experience that flash of full presence and passion and oneness...that's what I'm yearning for so deeply that it hurts.
Yikes, it sounds like kind of a grim few weeks for you. I hope that your wife is recovering well, and that you get that quiet time with God. You're in my thoughts & prayers.
My question was serious. As for my word choice,... yes, having looked up that strange word (as previously, I had looked up "rhapsodize"), I can admit, it was "facetious."
I asked the question because we are talking about mind/body states, as well as theological interpretation of those states. Just because the state came first as passive grace does not rule out actively doing things to increase the likelihood of repeating an aspect of the graced experience. Not that it is easy to find the path of action. But I have found reflecting on such questions can help. Sometimes "grace" comes as empowerment to act.
Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. They are much appreciated! You wrote, "Intellectually we knew that the sun was still there, and intellectually (and by faith) I know that I am always in God and God in me. But to experience it...to experience that flash of full presence and passion and oneness...that's what I'm yearning for so deeply that it hurts."
It is such an awesome thought: I am in God and God is in me. There are times when I am alone with God when I experience His presence in me as a blissful and sacred presence which is Love Itself, an experience of wholeness, completeness and being filled to overflowing that is quite indescribable. I also, however, strive to be conscious of His presence in me on a day to day, moment by moment basis. For example, I work behind the counter in a gas station and on a busy day have been known to serve nearly a hundred customers an hour. That is a pretty busy day. The challenge for me at work is not only, at a subtle level, to maintain some consciousness of His presence in me as I am serving each customer, but also to mediate or communicate His presence to them in whatever way I can. On some days I am pretty good at it, while on other days I am not very good at it at all. However, one day about a year ago, a young girl said something to me which has been a source of encouragement ever since. She leaned over the counter and quietly said to me, �I would give my right arm if my father would look at me the way you look at me just once.� I was floored. And I thanked God for her because that Father's presence and love in me is precisely what I feel deeply within myself and desire to mediate in my little corner of the world. I know that this isn't about 'yearning for God', but it is about the fruit of that yearning. Hope you don't mind the deviation.
I had something similar happen yesterday. I was having a tea party in the garden with a little girl, age 8. Along the way, she said to me, "You're more of a real father than my father. He's gone all the time." I know her dad. He's a mathematician who works more than full time and has a long commute. He also is emotionally distant.
It made me kind of uncomfortable, like maybe I was usurping his role and I said, that I find as I grow older, there are lots of people other than my parents who are like mother's and father's for me.
Then she said that I'm also her best friend; that is, except for one girl who is like a twin sister for her.
I'm glad she appreciates relating to me, but I'm concerned that she seems isolated. I'm confident that I'm a safe adult for her to trust. And I hope that as she gets through this lonely time, she will find many other people she can trust too.
I welcome your prayers as I relate to this particular child of God.
Ah, again you've given me something to ponder!Yes, I do think that we can choose to live openly amd more receptively, and that's where spiritual practice comes in...silence, prayer, meditatation, sacrament. Or, like Roger describes, a conscious effort and willingness to encounter God in each person we meet. It's a decision that has to be made over and over, moment by moment. I associate it with breath -- a deep intake of breath along with a mental prayer to be receptive to the Spirit in that particular moment.
Ryan, I will indeed hold you in prayer as you relate to the girl you mention -- that God will continue to use you...and you, too, Roger. Having had a rather dicey relationship with my own father, I know first hand the power and grace of a warm, safe relationship, or even a kind look, from a man who embodies God's love. Bless you both!
Maybe there is a way to look at this situation that avoids various emotional traps. Perhaps she is saying to you, in the way that is natural for her as a child: "To me you are a significant adult."
Now that is a lot less loaded, yes? The fact that her father removes himself from significance does not mean you are competing against him. The girl has a name for the emptiness inside her, and it is: Father.
But you are not usurping anybody�s role!
I assume you are merely there for her in a meaningful way when she needs you. That is honourable and it can be good. Perhaps in time she and you will agree on two different names to distinguish the two roles � creating less potential havoc for both, and making it easier for her to deal with the pain.
One of the most important inner qualities that we are called to foster as we walk our Path is the ability "to do what is indicated".
What a good way to put it! We can all call the emptiness, the yearning, within us "Abba, Father"
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