Losing My Edges
Losing My Edges: November 26, 2015
Emma’s discovered singing. It’s pretty cute. Her favorites are, predictably, Itsy-bitsy Spider, Wheels on the Bus and He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands. Plus some thing about a cow. Thing is, they all kinda sound the same. Think native chanting. Cherokee, maybe, or perhaps Gaelic.
I like chanting, and I like using small sound-bites as meditative summaries. Not so much a mantra—that’s a word or phrase repeated over and over to focus the mind during meditation. More an aural touchstone to help me remember my spiritual goals when I’m not meditating. Some start as prayers: “Let me be a channel of Your love” and end up as the reminder “be a channel of God’s love.”
Lately I’ve found myself repeating, “Lose your edges.”
Sometimes when I meditate I lose my edges. In the stillness I feel myself floating just slightly askew from my actual physical edges, floating upwards as though the body’s physical gravity is no longer keeping my soul, my self inside the edges anymore. I was 8 or 9 the first time this happened to me. In church of all places.
How does it feel? It feels like being both un-tethered and re-absorbed. It feels freeing and it feels beyond—beyond the normal bounds and definitions of reality. It’s freeing because it is a visceral reminder that WHAT IS is so much more/bigger/realer than I usually acknowledge it to be. I always want to compartmentalize, define, understand. When I lose myself to the larger reality of God, then I can let go. It feels like Love.
In yoga we sometimes talk about listening to the body instead of always letting the mind rule. I had a wonderful epiphany the other day: the mind is a part of the body. It’s not either/or. My soul is the entity that can float freely away from the bounds of the body and the mind. It feels like I’m blending back into an eternity—a wholeness—that was there long before this distinct ‘I’ existed. That floating free is my soul reconnecting with the vast truth of God. It feels like Love.
I believe that God is accessible, available, present, and immediate. In all things. Everywhere. She’s got the whole world in her hands.
Richard Rohr explains St. Bonaventure’s description of the wholeness of God this way: “That is not simplistic pantheism (everything is God), but it is a much more profound pan-en-theism (everything is in God and God can be found in everything). This is Christianity's great message, which it has, in large part, found too good to be true and too hard to believe!”
Sin is the denial of this Divine Pervasiveness. It is acting as though I am separate from God. When I feel myself separate then I get all caught up in trying to be in control. And as I am constantly, painfully reminded, I am not in control.
And yet I am a unique expression of the Divine. I am called to be and to become that singular expression that God desires of me. The paradox of the faithful life is to become distinct while remaining connected. And without privileging one over the other.
The word religion is from the Latin re- (again) and ligare (bind, connect). The aim of religion is to reconnect us with the larger reality that we call God. Religion should point us beyond ourselves to our self-in-God. If I am always so strictly, singly this person then it’s hard for me ALSO to be woven into the fabric of God. But that’s exactly what we are called to be. A distinct drop of water in the vast God-ocean. One note in the symphony, one electron in the molecule. Pick your metaphor.
This summer Jack finally learned how to swing. I told Jack that I’d push him once and then he needed to pump his legs. It was the eleven millionth time I’d said it, but on that day, when I turned back to look after pushing Emma, he was swinging. Like a pro! There was a girl in a purple bathing suit swinging beside him who’d said, “Like me—watch.” Jack claimed she’d taught him.
I took that on the chin, but after I swallowed my pride I was gushing to be positive and supportive and saying, “Isn’t it cool to do it by yourself? So fun! It’s great she taught you! Now it finally makes sense, right?!?”
And he said, “No. Now it finally doesn’t make sense.”
Once it finally makes sense it doesn’t have to make sense anymore. Once we lose our edges and become part of the whole, we don’t have to try to think our way to wholeness anymore. We are, forgive me, in the swing of things.
On the way home I asked about the girl. Jack said, “She was really beautiful.” I asked how she’d taught him to pump and he said, “I’ve known how to pump my whole life.” So what was different this time? “I guess I looked at her.” So—you watched to see how it was done?
“Yes—but I’d seen how before. I guess I watched her longer. Because she was so beautiful.”
Shouldn’t we try to make religion beautiful? There is sacrifice, surely, but does it all have to be so either/or? Religion can point us to a world beyond our own edges, beyond our limitations, to a reconnection with Divine Love. My grandmother used to say: It’s easier to catch flies with honey than with vinegar. And boy does the church feel like vinegar sometimes.
Can’t it be a high-flying girl in a purple bathing suit once in a while? Beauty can be what makes us take a longer look at this thing called church. For God so loved the world that He became incarnate. God became distinct to show us how to become re-connected. Now that’s beauty!
You might say it’s the crux of the matter.