The last few days and weeks have been a blur of events and emotions. Moving, starting a new job, saying goodbye to loved ones, possibly for the last time, being constantly surrounded by strangers… I feel my heart has been broken again and again; sometimes broken shut, sometimes broken open. I left so many things behind when I came to Boston. Not least of these was an identity.
I can’t say I have any idea what identity if any will be formed here, since so many of the building blocks I expected would be there have also been stripped away. Yet in their place, where at first I felt nothing but emptiness and pain, I now see openness. This is in large part due to the deep revelations of God’s love and comfort that have come again and again over these weeks. Precious and unexpected visits from beloved friends; finding sacredness and freedom in the ponds and streams of this area; the satisfaction of knowing that by my work I’m contributing to something important; love and friendship from my coworkers; all these have provided deep comfort and encouragement.
When people have asked me what I really gained from four miserable years of college, I’ve replied, “Learning to accept love and be compassionate.” It appears that process is ongoing. God is breaking me open to love. Of course, as one of my beloveds told me recently, we are already that way. Like Christ, we are “broken and poured out for others.” I’ve spent a lot of my life broken shut; I never expected how different being broken open, for days and days, would feel. I don’t have any certitudes to hold onto. All there is, is love, and peace, and anger/grief/resentment, all at once.
Most evenings have found me at the Charles River at sunset, and on weekends I’m in some forest or pond. I’ve always loved forest and mountains for their strength, mystery, and acceptance. My mother enjoys swimming; I’ve never cared for it much. But here I’ve found a great deal of solace in water. In the water I am free. By its side, there is only peace. Especially at sunset, when the sky itself is peace as well. Peace holds both pain and love, as well as hope, fear, anger, longing…
A few days ago Krishna broke my heart when I heard a devotee saying how God doesn’t love someone who’s not serious about his spiritual practice; Krishna doesn’t care about you. All you have to do is do the right things, get on the bus, go back to godhead, and there’ll be no more worries.
My experience of the world is that the only thing we can say about God is love. In fact, that’s the only thing we can say about life. Life is hard, and feels unfair or unjust much of the time, and clinging to formulas, standards, and dogmas only obscures the reality of life. The only answer I can find to suffering is to love. Loving people even when I don’t feel like it, or loving people I don’t like very much; and seeing the infinite and essential love and peace of the natural world is at once the most satisfying and most painful experience I’ve had. I guess that’s why my friends have used the word “vulnerability;” there is both joy and terror in being broken open. It’s ironic, isn’t it? I think this is something close to how we naturally are, but part of me wants to run away, back to always having an answer and knowing what to do.
Let me choose to stay in the water.