Everything was fine, better than fine; life was glorious. Then came a shock seemingly from nowhere – at first, a kind of empty grayness and then intense heartache. The pain quickly spread from the center of my chest through my entire being. Agonizingly, this strange pain engulfed the world around me; it even seemed to extend into the past and future. I wanted to cry but didn’t. I wondered, if it was depression and decided not; I could still feel hope. As it became stronger, it felt as if I were being torn apart.
To “tear” seems the right verb, with its sudden and harsh connotation. Tearing delivers a sort of hot, ragged pain and this was that kind, like the pain of unexpected deep sadness or an immense grief. “Apart” implies that something has once been whole or two have been in close association. ‘What is being pulled apart from what? What is tearing’ I asked? Quickly the answer dawned. ‘I am being torn from You. You are retreating, leaving me. Why have You gone?’
I have willingly left much of my life behind to come out here into the remote solitude of the high desert. To be alone with You. As in the past, I am hoping to find You here and You have given me encouragement. Beauty, Your Beauty, embedded in this thin high desert world has been the hook. By now, You have given me enough of Yourself that my habits and desires, are changing. My vision is becoming focused on seeing You. Like the vibrating compass needle that becomes still as it aligns with true North, You have pulled me to You. I know I want You – more and always. Even in my weakness, I know that I want You. Especially in this tearing apart, I know. Even more, to live properly, I know I need You. What have I done?
I am ready to leave my entire world behind, though how much am I able? I don’t want to leave Your world, just my world, the constricted one fabricated by my grasping and ignorance. I know I mustn’t go back. It might be easier to go back, and with sufficient distraction I may, but not without loss, and certainly not whole-heartedly. Only the ugly old habits want me back there, living as I’ve done in the past. Who I really am, or more accurately, who I want to be, can’t and mustn’t be happy there – at least not without You. Though with You, I’m sure I could be happy anywhere.
I know You and Your beauty are everywhere, but I don’t really live that truth, so I come out here to learn. So far, You have shown me Yourself in the huge empty silence, in the wild horses, in the rosy everlasting among the rocks, in the undulating flight of the sage thrasher and in the first morning light, emerging as if from the multitude of stars. Actually, when I consider thoughtfully, the list is a long one. And, I admit, You have been showing Yourself all along – always and everywhere. The fault is with me. I can’t see or feel properly. My eyes are not fresh. My heart is not clean. Maybe You haven’t retreated and it’s just my weakness – I have lost You.
But still, I know I can never become strong or hold You unless You pull me ever closer – so close that I am lost in You and can’t escape. You can do this. Do it. Please. Please hold on to me tightly.
I’m here now, in the high desert, somewhere between my little life and You; between nothing worthwhile and everything real. While I know I could fall back into the old and empty life, I beg You to carry me where You go. Especially, now that I have to leave this place; don’t let me go where I won’t find You. Without You, unless You pull me to You, I can’t leave that worthless life. But if You do pull me to You, the worth of this tiny life becomes immeasurable. And, if there is any reason for a wave of joy in Your creation, please, You could show me Your face.
Not long ago in the ashram of Amma, a Mahatma known for Her extraordinary compassion, there was a goat who became the friend of all the ashramites and who was particularly devoted to Her. When, after many years, the ashramites realized its life was failing, they called Her. She came and sat down on the ground not far from the dying goat. The goat, seeing Her, stirred, but being weak and dying, could not rise and so began moving on its knees toward Her. After some time of heart-rending and agonizing struggle, the goat finally reached Her, laid its head in Her lap and expired. What the goat found is what I ask.
Help me come to You. But please, stay close and don’t wait too long.
© B. Witham 2013