Tuesday, November 16, 2010

THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE (NO NOT THE FILM)


Yea, I know, I've mentioned the film several times over the past few days. Well, I actually began mentioning it over a year ago when I first heard about it and saw the movie trailer. But this post really isn't about the film. At least not directly. Watching the film has certainly sent me back in time pondering my own human experience. Timing in this case also turns out to be everything. Thanksgiving season always has a way of sending me back in time. It always reminds me of a gift that was given on a Thanksgiving Day a number of years ago that served as an awakening for me. I will let John O'Donohue explain what I mean.

The beauty of the gift is the secret way it awakens us to growth. Without alerting our anxiety or forcing confrontation, the gift has placed us on the path of change almost before we realize it. And much of the change in our lives happen through struggle and pain. We are confronted with an unattractive direction that we have to take. For weeks or months we have to travel through limbo; the comfort and security of our familiar belonging lies far behind us. Where we will belong next has not yet become clear. The days become a struggle of endurance. Yet when the light and the ease return, we recognize the change that has been achieved. The gift bequeaths change in a completely different way. Quickly it undoes the knots of false netting that had us entangled and before we have time to realize what has happened, we find ourselves released into a new fluency. Like a parent to the soul, the gift carries us carefully over torn ground until our feet stand free in a serene place where we can recognize that we have been blessed.


It was a most surprising and unexpected happening in my life. It also took awhile to see it as the gift it turned out to be. It all has opened up a way of seeing the human experience with completely new eyes.

I've come to recognize how easily one loses perspective and loses touch with the beauty that resides in the heart. For myself that beauty was much more apparent during my youth and through my 20's, visibly at work inside me, forming me, even though it was dangerously wild. Wild in a raw and arrogant way...not in a wild healthy way. The decade of my 30's were a decade of getting lost in lesser things and losing touch with that beauty. The ego ran wild in pursuit of propping it's own life up unaware of what it was costing others and costing myself.

What's so encouraging though is that even during those lost years, that beauty in the heart never stops doing what it does. (It's also interesting how those lost years in my life were my most religiously engaged years even though they were spent outside organized religion.) Often we humans go about life with no inkling of the internal work that is ongoing until the day/season when a gift is given. In my case, as John describes above, it came wrapped in pain and struggle. But it wasn't that much farther down the road when the beauty that it was began to come into view. The human experience began to open up before me in ways that reminded me of my earlier days..except now it felt much different...much healthier.

This from the film The Human Experience really defines some of the journey of getting to this place:

"The more mature person is not the one who has all the questions settled. The more mature person is the person who enters ever more deeply, ever more farther and farther and farther into the mystery and into the wonder.

If life is not lived at this level, it is lived at a superficial level. And whoever has the power to control your superficial level will rule over you."


Both parts of that resonate as true to me. The first part speaks of a wild and healthy way of being. The second part describes the lost path of my 30's.

I get the sense that I'm not alone in this experience.

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