Lostness and Presence Part 1 Leaning into our lostness

This is the first part of a three part message… Listen to the Podcast here…

Tuesday, 22 May, 2018

‘I have gone astray like a lost sheep…’ Psalm 119:176

Recently, a dear friend at church asked me if I was okay. She said I felt ‘lost’. I immediately thought, ‘But I feel found’. As I sat with her comment, it occurred to me that even when the old is falling away, paving way for the new and delightful, the right and utterly sublime, still, we can experience the realm of lostness. We can be lost in the interim period of change, whether that change is devastating and bereaving, or our soul is calling us to rise up and move deeper into life-affirming deliciousness. Regardless, the in-between space of familiar-old slipping away and emerging-new not yet arrived, can be a tough place to inhabit. It came to me that my friend had identified my experience of the ground being pulled away as I lean more fully into the call of my soul in God, spiritual accompaniment and ministry. No matter how exciting and right, still the unfolding detail and route engenders a form of lostness in the process of change.
During my time in counselling and spiritual companionship with folk, I have heard these sentiments expressed countless times. As keenly as I’ve witnessed the joy of connection, so many people have shared with me their sense of feeling lost, of being ‘unsure’, ‘uncertain’, not being able to ‘find my way’ or ‘feeling stuck’, ‘alone’, and experiencing a ‘dark night of the soul’, which sometimes extends into weeks and months. 
One companion on the Spiritual You programme recently said to me, ‘I didn’t even know I was lost, until I saw how stuck in those behaviours I’d been’. And this is often how it is when we are caught in the acts of doing, reacting or responding to situations and emotional states, trying to find resolution. And I’m referring here to those existential moments brought about by our psyche’s dilemmas as our soul projects us upon a momentum of change. Those times when we are called to be in a place of upheaval, turmoil even, emotional unrest and paramount discomfort so that when we emerge out the other side, we do so clear, processed, healed and aligned to the new we have entered.

In these moments, days, confusion, uncertainty, heartache and even in the high-flying groundless joy, we are invited to be radically truthful with ourselves. 
I am lost.

Just acknowledging this is a step in a liberating direction. Then staying in the lostness. Allowing ourself to be lost. To sink with fear of never finding our way out. 

I am lost. 

Let us be in this lostness that we may open to what being lost has to teach us. Let us not hide in distraction, denial, excuses and busyness, but rest naked in emotion and body, in environment and thought.

I am utterly lost.

Without compass or roadmap, simply and entirely handing ourselves over to the lostness. At first it will be like holding our breath, bursting for relief. The pain may be so great, and desperate to find a sign, seek out a path, riddle our way through to an answer, we find no such thing. It is then that the primal, instinctual panic rises up. We may flail around, body jolting from pillar to post in search of a way out. We might stand very, very still as the sweat of fear and the unknown drips down our back. Or we may fall in a heap, sobbing like a child so keenly wanting to be held. Natural responses to the state of being lost. Initial reactions to the sudden realisation that we are feet off the ground, treading unfamiliar waters.
Here then, we are invited to rest in this place. To allow the air of lostness to completely overcome us. To submit to it permeating the fibre of our being so that even our body feels foreign in the likeness of our unsure thoughts.

Let me be in the lostness.
Sinking into the depth or unknowing, the unfamiliar, the fear, doubt, the uncertainty or sense of aloneness – sinking into lostness, we just stay awhile.

I am leaning into this lostness.

We just be in this space. We lean into it. We get to know it. What are the qualities of this state of being? How do our senses experience it? What thoughts are we having there? What feelings and emotions rise up inside of us? We stop. We listen and we look. We allow the damp cloth of fright and flight to settle into curiosity.

What is this place I now call lost? 
It is so valuable to our soul’s emergence in our life that we really let our lostness reveal itself to us. What are its needs? What does it reach for as most urgent to survival? What ‘familiar’ is most keenly absent and longed for? And what lengths will our lostness go to so that we are found? Are those measures in our best interests or are they short-term solutions? Do they wither us away, depleting our verve for wholeness, and the rightness of our being… Or do they enrich us, and feed us the story of our soul-psyche-spirit union…

I lean into lostness with awareness
From this place of leaning into and resting in our lostness, we come to know our inner needs. And in this stripped bare state, we begin the process of reclothing and nourishing ourself – of returning to what was already, always there. 

Next Week, Part 2, How we find ourself in nature and the mystery of life
To see what else Karolyne offers, 
visit here…

Image Credit – One with the tree. Crescent moon. Susan Seddon Boulet.

Published by SEASEM

St Enoch and St Elijah Monastery (SEASEM) is a small contemplative community looking to the traditions of Celtic, Coptic, Catholic and Protestant spiritual practices. The monastery is located in New Zealand's Hokianga district famous for its wilderness, beauty and rugged coastline; 10 minutes from Kaikohe and 40 minutes from the east and west coastal beaches. Nearby is New Zealand's most famous ancient Waipoua Forest, home to the stunningly beautiful Tāne Mahuta. Situated on 50 acres of land, SEASEM invites people of any or no faiths wanting to visit, stay and retreat either privately or within the community's culture of prayerful life in God.

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