This is the third and final part of this series of Messages… Listen to the Podcast here…
Thursday, 28 June, 2018
‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Luke 15:6
In Parts 1 and 2 of Lostness and Presence, we were invited to stay with and befriend our lostness, moving through pain and uncertainty, fear and doubt into curiosity and silence, and deep inner listening. In the final part of this message, we learn to deepen our ability to listen in ways that promote and strengthen being found. And we acknowledge that the shift from being lost to being found can be a gradual one.
We cannot hide when we are lost. Truly, we are naked in emotion and body, in environment and thought. We allow the air of lostness to completely overcome us. We submit to its permeating the fibre of our being so that even our body may at times feel foreign while our thoughts are unsure. We completely let be into this lostness. And in this state, we are primed so fully to hand ourselves over to the Spirit of our soul.
I open to being found
We open to being found a number of ways, including but not limited to: prayer, meditation, contemplation and reflection, ceremony in nature, creativity, spiritual counselling and accompaniment. You may have your own ways of listening deeply for the soul’s return. And you’ll likely find that you resonate more with some methods than others. I tend towards Jesus, prayer, chant, and quiet contemplation and meditation. I also take time on the land, with nature. I’ll be open to the Holy Spirit moving through birds, wind, trees, animals and the ways these speak to my interior world and the depth of my lostness or how the gifting of signs points to my being found.
Here is a small summary of ways of being in lostness…
In prayer, our uncertainty is given over to the Other. As Jesus said, ‘I will not leave you a spiritual orphan. I am coming for you’, you are invited to surrender into God’s hands. This abandonment of worry, of having to know, of reaching for, can be deeply satisfying, and life affirming. And while the art of prayer in relationship with the Other has taken a back seat in popular philosophies of consciousness and identity formation, the very intention to turn, through worship or appeal can in itself be uplifting. It may simply be that we voice our request in prayer. It may be that we beseech the Lord for answers. You’ll have your own words, and perhaps even your own deity, or none. Either way, prayer is a powerful method of opening and surrendering, of handing over our burden to be carried by the Other, and of listening for ‘the return’. The return is that echo of response, whether in deep silence, words, indications or signs, that signals you have been heard.
Remember to pray confidently. To hand all you need to over to the Other. Be natural in your expression, honest and open. Be clear with your intentions and motives of only goodness. Speak your vulnerabilities, your frustrations, fears, doubts, and hopes. Just pray true, and trust that your prayers are received without judgement. And lean into the lighter feeling of having laid down your burden.
As ecotherapist and depth psychologist, Bill Plotkin writes, ‘We hear the Other through the numinous declarations of dreams, deep imagery, inner voices, sudden insights or revelations, synchronicities, powerful emotion, love, death, the voice of God, and epiphanies of nature. These communications from within (soul) and without (nature) and both/neither (Spirit) constitute the Other’s way of speaking to us. We make it a conversation by way of ceremony.’ Ceremony in this context is the active engagement of intention and awareness built around a form of conscious noticing, awaiting the return, having invited the Other to aid us. This can be a walk in the woods and a deliberate encounter with the trees and all that nature has to offer. It could be asking a question before you go to sleep and recording your dreams for answers in the morning. It may be the resounding voice within that speaks a truth unlike what you’ve heard before. Or those moments of synchronicity when the revealing to us of signs and wonders helps us to become found.
When we meditate we are questing for an inner relationship with self and Other in some form, whether active or passive meditation. Generally, in meditation we are doing the work, and we seek to have a conversation with the Other. In mindfulness meditation, this conversation is with presence; awareness of being in the moment. We become the observer of all that is happening within us; the external and internal stimuli that gives rise to thought, feeling, sensation, memory, emotion. We rest and are curious in our observation, noticing the rising and falling of inner activity. There are many online and in-person mindfulness classes and courses available these days to help you in this coming to presence and awareness. Through mindfulness, we can come to know ourselves better – our processes, reactions, beliefs, limiting thoughts, emotional responses. By knowing ourselves we create greater options for us and are freer to choose more healthy and helpful ways of being.
In religious, faith-based or spiritual meditation, we continue the relationship, but we are seeking out the Other through various forms of inner dialogue, whether verbal, imaginative, sensory or thinking. We are beseeching, searching, and actively pursuing that relationship with an expectation that our inner endeavours will elicit a returning Word that will ease or guide.
Both contemplation and meditation have the similarity of quietening the soul, but where meditation involves focus, contemplation moves out of meditation towards a lightly holding of a seed thought, sentence or concept. We take the subject of contemplation into the quiet space with us, and permit our mind to move in and out of touch with it. In considering the seed thought, we roll it around, ponder it and allow revelation to rise up; we consider it again; we question it; we converse with it; praise it; thank it, ask for guidance, forgiveness, help, and we flow back into considering and conversing with it… In and out of engaging the contemplative subject with our own light touch, while simultaneously we offer it up to our soul. It is in this space that we are open to the return of the Other in relation to the seed thought. Here, in the contemplative space, God reveals His deep interest and love for us, and we come to fuller immersion in our relationship with God.
Spiritual Accompaniment can be a formal or informal process with another person, generally of the religious or church that helps someone come closer to God. In our times of great spiritual awakening, both companion and seeker may be secular laypersons of any variety of spiritual paths. However, in the role of accompaniment, the spiritual companion fosters a space of trust in which to open to deep connection with the wisest source of freedom and joy. It is a space where we are held in our deeper understanding and awareness of the presence and movement of the great mystery or God in our life. We have a companion to accompany us as we move through uncertainty, doubt, fear, jubilation, discovery and myriad other emotions as we experience and respond to our spiritual unfoldment. The space is a fostering of support and encouragement as we enter a relationship with the Other, God or Source, through coming to unity of self. In this way, we remember the holiness of wholeness. This is the space that I primarily share with people these days in my Spiritual You™ programme.
In the silent space of being lost, we open ourselves to being found. As we have discussed over these weeks, when at first we experience uncertainty and fear in our lostness, we are invited to remain with those states. For even when we are lost, all is not lost. Though we may feel the abyss of uncertainty swallowing us, paralysing our decision-making abilities, still, there is a greater force, a higher power that we can hand our lostness over to. We lean into presence and discern there all the pain and emptiness, uncertainty and lostness. And if we stay there, if we can be there with awareness and with openness, eventually, with some measure of self-support or practice, we come to connection. We come out of our expectations and imagined future to make space for being present with the soul. Everything inside quietens down and this gives the soul a chance to speak true with us. In this state of presence, God or Spirit moving through our soul, speaks to us, and there we come to discern the desire we have for a loving union with that Source; not as a matter of dissolution of self, but as a relationship and a way to live our life. In this, we look to connection – not happiness, not joy, not contentment or desire, dream or anything else. When we look to connection, the Holy Spirit works wonders. The Spirit of God in us awakens and us come into relationship with it, and everything else follows.
I Am Found
So, in lostness, having rested there a while, we begin to emerge by being presence and connection. And we aim high! We reach for the Other, however we perceive that – for me it’s God. It may be something else for you. But we go to that place, and if it’s God, we ask Jesus to take us there… Jesus, take me and connect me with the Spirit of God within me… Know that this is a great path of connection; that whenever there is lostness we are simply experiencing the falling away of out-dated ways of being, and that our state of presence helps us to realise this truth, and to guide us into newness.
Staying in lostness for the transformation is not necessarily easy, but out the other side, it is magnificent! From the clear light of truth and harmony we can rejoice, I was lost, and now I am found.