Running Toward the Shore

The crowds gather and grow.  Person after person tell neighbors and they rush through the small town toward the shore where he was last seen.  They are pulled.  They are drawn like a sinking stone into the depths.  They are tired of skimming the surface.  They are tired of waking up each morning only half-alive.  Healing?  Healing?  They are not sure what it means but they know they cannot live without it.

I too am pulled and drawn to go deeper.  I do not know very much, but I do know that kind of desire…the kind that leads you to the shore…to the unknown.  On some mornings I awaken to this half-life, to the realization that my life is not working, to my withered hand…my withered life and to my monstrous desire.  Those are actually the good days.  Those are the days that I hear my name and I choose not to hide.  Those are the days that an inner awareness pierces the illusion of my false self.

Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk, wrote the following:

Everyone of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self.  This is the man I want myself to be but who cannot exist, because God doesn’t know anything about him.  And to be unknown by God is altogether too much privacy.  My false and private self is the one who wants to exist outside the reach of God’s will and God’s love–outside of reality and outside of life.  And such a self cannot but be an illusion (New Seeds of Contemplation, p. 34).

With abandon and boundless hope the crowds run toward Jesus.  Perhaps as he moves through their small community, healing and loving purely, he casts a light on the shadows within their heart and in that moment they know the truth.  Running toward the shore they choose a whole life.

I do not know much but I know I do not wish to remain hidden from, or worse, unknown by the Beloved.  I am learning that, like Paul, in my weakness is stregnth.  I begin to bless my withered hand, my withered life, because without it, perhaps I would not see the illusion.   I leave behind the one within me that God does not know to run to the shore.  I stand at the shore with hopeful expectation and borrow the words (slightly adapted) of the poet, Mary Oliver:

The Swan

Across the wide waters

something comes

floating—a slim

and delicate

ship, filled

with white flowers—

and it moves

on its miraculous muscles

as though time didn’t exist,

as though bringing such gifts

to the dry shore

was a happiness

almost beyond bearing.

And now it turns its dark eyes,

it rearranges

the clouds of its wings

it trails

an elaborate webbed foot,

the color of charcoal.

soon it will be here.

Oh, what shall I do

when that poppy-colored beak

rests in my hand?

Oh, what will I do, what will I say

when those

white wings

touch the shore?

About lchavez64

Seeker. Dreamer. Ordinary girl.

2 responses to “Running Toward the Shore

  1. Beautiful art and poignant words Linda. Thank you.
    Hope and courage are so important, and illustrated in your reflection, as we seek to move beyond the false self. I’ve found that the more I explore the false truths and denial in my life (primarily of the God self, so the false self can continue to struggle to assimilate to the world and it’s ever-shifting standards)…it turns my world upside down—and maybe God is saying…ahhh, there you are! Still struggling with denying myself though…thinking (which seems to be what gets me into trouble:)) that maybe someone else’s needs, opinions or expectations are more important, correct or worthy. When I control and judge..I now understand its not coming from me, but from the insecurities of the false self, who doesn’t know the grace of God. Sitting in the Paradox of light and dark.

    With your references to the shore and the sea…it reminded me of this poem…(first read it in Rohr’s book of the same title – which he based on this poem).

    Breathing Underwater
    The following poem was written by Carol Bialock and comes from Sheila Cassidy’s remarkable book Sharing the Darkness.

    I built my house by the sea.
    Not on the sands, mind you,
    not on the shifting sand.
    And I built it of rock.
    A strong house
    by a strong sea.
    And we got well acquainted, the sea and I.
    Good neighbours.
    Not that we spoke much.
    We met in silences,
    respectful, keeping our distance
    but looking our thoughts across the fence of sand.
    Always the fence of sand our barrier,
    always the sand between.
    And then one day
    (and I still don’t know how it happened)
    The sea came.
    Without warning.
    Without welcome even.
    Not sudden and swift, but a shifting across the sand like wine,
    less like the flow of water than the flow of blood.
    Slow, but flowing like an open wound.
    And I thought of flight, and I thought of drowning, and I thought of death.
    But while I thought, the sea crept higher till it reached my door.
    And I knew that there was neither flight nor death nor drowning.
    That when the sea comes calling you stoop being good neighbours,
    Well acquainted, friendly from a distance neighbours.
    And you give your house for a coral castle
    And you learn to breathe under water.

    Sheila Cassidy writes of her coming to grips with the passage …

    Now the curious thing is that all the time I was in Chile I understood the sea in this poem as an image of the presence of God – the way he takes over our lives. When I showed it to a monk friend, however, he saw the slow advance of the sea as the gradual encroachment of the agony of the world upon one’s consciousness. It is only now, ten years on, that I begin to understand what he meant when he said that the great mystery is that the two are really the same.

    • I love your reflection and the poem! I too am captivated by the know ledge that my true self lies buried yet KNOWN. I also really like the notion that when she surfaces, as you say, God surely must delight in this and say”ahhh, there you are!”. A lovely, lovely image!

      Sent from my iPad

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