Friday, January 21, 2011

What do you really want?

It was just before Christmas when Diane posted the question on her Facebook page.

"What do you want this year?" 

I knew she didn't mean a new lens for my camera or my favourite indulgence soap...

or even some sweet, small trinket.

Diane thinks deeper than that. The question gave me pause.

What did I want? The truth was, I didn't know. And if I didn't know, who did?

After Christmas, I settled in to read my new book, Sacred Rhythms. It's about spiritual transformation. About listening and seeking. Solitude and questioning. The first chapter asked me to name my truest desire. "How bad do you want it?", the author asked. There it was again.

Can I share something? I'm surrounded by people who regularly ask themselves this question; people who themselves are surrounded by vision boards pasted with pink Cadillacs, beach umbrellas, bestsellers, designer houses and Monopoly money. People who practice the power of intention or visualization. I see most of this as surface stuff....the stuff of distraction.

But, I can count on one knuckle the number of times anyone has looked me straight in the eye and asked me, "What do you really want?"  What is the need below the surface? 

True Desire is an elusive thing. It's not some pretty bauble-du-jour.

So, I sat with my question in the aloneness of the morning -  morning after morning, actually - watching the sunlight slide from the tops of the trees, prodding beneath my answers, sifting through them, like the chickadees sorting through the seeds at the feeder. Looking for the hidden nugget of truth.

And when the answer didn't come, I walked with the question. Through new fallen snow, along snowshoe tracks, past smooth fields and bristled trees, beneath bruised and smudged skies, the question followed me like my shadow.

Oh, it is easy to say,  "I want to be a successful speaker and author." But then the question arises...what must you say and where will you send your words? How do you define 'success'?


"I want to spend more time with friends and family." Really?  That's a choice, not a desire.

Or "I want my health."  If I gave you health, what would you do with it?  Neglect it? Use it? Who would it serve?
Or "I want my grandson close by." But it's not enough, just to have him here. If he was, what difference could you make in his life? Is it for him, or is it for you?

This's not an easy thing to name. It's the need beneath all the questions.

To be seen. To have a voice. To be understood. To live freely and feel joy. To love and be loved.
To know, really know, God.
To make some small or great difference.

Once I know this honest, true Desire, then I know in what direction I must turn my face.
Where to place my next step. It really must be the root of it all, you know.

What do you want? Truly.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bear Play

 A whopping 30cm fell overnight.

What to do with all that snow...

Pleasures newly found are sweet
when they lie about our feet.
William Wordsworth

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Shadow and Light...

Two nights ago, I stood beneath the stars...beneath a sky both cold and blazing, empty and grandiose, mysterious and mesmerizing. Beneath a brilliance of glittering light, emblazoned on shadows as deep as the universe is vast. Beneath meteors on flaming paths that disappeared before I could be certain they even existed.

I stood, feeling every inch of cold flaming my skin, every breath chilling my lungs, feeling vividly alive, larger than life, yet infinitesimally small and insignificant. The paradox of living. Where each of us is vitally important within our own realm, yet as tiny as a mote of dust or single snowflake within God's realm.

The crystalline clarity of the night brought home what I love about winter.

Winter is a time for reflection, a signal for me to hibernate,
to sink deep within the cozy comfort of home and family.

For me to look out and see clearly to the horizons...
across fields, the curves and hummocks laid bare and white, all life sleeping underground.

Through the forest with its trees stripped of leaves, devoid of colour...

I see the bones of them, with their crooked trunks and twisted limbs, unadorned, as they truly are.

Bare shadows and light.

It is time, also for me to look see myself,
without the window dressing of my interactions with others,
or the faces I turn to the world.

To look deeply within and to examine my own hidden landscape,
the interplay of my own shadows and light and how one serves the other,
the mystery of who I am and who I might be. 
The bones of my own true nature.

"Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace."
Frederick Beuchner,  Now & Then: A Memoir of Vocation