Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Nine Days

The past few days, I’ve been having a nagging feeling.
Even in the midst of laughing my head off over something (I have the goofiest and most entertaining friends), cramming to learn 13 pieces of music in just a few days (Mozard, Handel, and Proulx among others) and feeling tremendously hopeful about a great many things ….. I’m feeling …. What is it? Anticipation of something about to happen?

Do you ever wish you knew more… about a situation, about a person, about a relationship, about SOMEthing in particular. Have you ever wanted an answer… a resolution to something moving your heart, mind or both? At the very least, perhaps a certainty that you are heard, that someone bigger than you sees everything and reassures you that everything is in GOOD hands. Or maybe your gut is telling you something, but you’re not 100% clear how to interpret it.
Well, when these things happen to me I pray.

Yes, I believe there is a God. No, let me clarify. I know there is a God.

Many years ago, I didn’t know that. I wasn’t raised with a faith in anything, except what a person can do by himself and for himself. Spirituality was discussed, but only in a generic, vague sense… or in a way that had to do with being in control of one’s environment (my father studied martial arts intensively due the requirements of his work and wanted me to embody those tenets).

But then one gorgeous summer day when I was 14 and "browned out" from a long summer in Hawaii, I experienced a moment of "strange". I felt compelled to do something. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew it was important. (something close to what I’m feeling now)

I decided to go for a walk and found myself at the front door of St Jude’s in Westlake Village, California. I found myself planting my feet in the middle of the doorway, looking around to see if anyone else was in the church "building" and found myself saying pretty loudly,
"Okay, if there is a god, and this place has anything to do with this god or gods, then I need you to prove you’re real. Because from where I’m standing, you’re not. I don’t know if there’s a "you". I don’t know if "you" can hear me, but if there is a "you" and "you" exist, prove it." And I turned on my heel and walked out. I figured I had nothing to lose so why not put it all on the table? Right? I had no idea………

Fast forward, a few months later… and I found myself in a position of being talked to… A LOT … about God, faith, religion,… everything, by people who suddenly just "popped up". (It’s ironic how this kind of thing happens when you ask the kinds of questions I asked that one day.) This gal came forward and volunteered to answer as many of my questions as I could throw at her. I kept asking, but I wasn’t convinced. It seemed a pleasant entertaining fiction, but little more. Intellectually, it was making a certain amount of sense, but emotionally… it wasn’t registering.

Then she asked me to go to something called a "retreat". People pray and talk at these things, so I figured…. What the heck, why not see where they’re coming from? I went. Naturally I was curious, but the first day I simply observed and kept my distance. People were throwing themselves into these open-hearted devotions and I was a bit amazed at how fearless they were in wanting to express their hearts towards this God I wasn’t even sure existed ....in front of everyone (being public about what I considered "private" was a no-no in my book at the time). It was new to me. Nevertheless, the next day I woke up and …. I knew. KNEW. I even understood that KNOWING can’t be confined to a dictionary. The word itself... has a magnitude I can’t express.

It was a Sunday morning. I woke up and found my mouth uttering prayers, and my heart was echoing. Crazy. My body felt completely rested, to the point that I didn’t even recognize it. I don’t think I received that kind of rest since I was … oh, 4 maybe??? By nature, I was incredibly energetic and I’m sure that was a factor in not resting completely. There were other factors, of course… but that morning it was as though I woke up for the first time. I remember it as though it just happened.

I found myself dropping on my knees and making a very clear statement of commitment and acknowledgement that I would spend the rest of my life giving myself over to … this. This person. That I would do whatever it took to understand and love them, to figure out how to do it … NOW, in my lifetime. Strange, no?

Now, there’s a lot of people who would say that my experience was the result of "suggestion". Or that my body and mind were simply awakening to their true potential as a result of my efforts to discover and understand what was driving these people. That I had simply uncovered my own potential capacity for divinity that is innate in all creatures... etc etc ad nauseum.

I know all the rebuttals. Trust me, in almost 20 years of trying to walk this life, I’ve heard them. I have a father who is ultra-"rational". ULTRA. He raised me to question EVERYTHING. Nothing is sure, nothing is impenetrable, nothing is unattainable, nothing can withstand the pressures of life, all things change ... and love is never enough. There are no absolutes. (Except that statement of course. =))

But one moment, all of life is a question mark and blurry… the next everything is crystallized in form, shape and matter. REALITY. Pure unmarrable clarity. Incredible energy fully grounded. It was so fantastically sharp and filling that I started crying from the intense beauty of it.

I had heard from a few people it could be like that, that it might be like that…. But I’d just nod without understanding, because what could I say? That what they said made SENSE to me? Of course they didn’t make "sense"! They were talking about something I couldn’t even see… let alone believe? Absolutes. There’s no such thing. But, in that moment, I saw everything.... heard everything..... felt everything... at the same time. Reality.
It was so many years ago. Since then, I’ve questioned and I’ve read everything I could get my hands on. I had to know WHY I was so clear. I had to be able to back it up. As time went on the more I learned, the more I discovered how and why everything made sense in that one .... small.... moment.

Have I been tested? 100%. It’s a guarantee, when you make that kind of commitment. Even when I want to give up on it, I can never shake the clarity that doesn’t come from me. I’ve done some ridiculous, idiotic stuff (really, really, really dumb), but through it all the commitment has remained. Remained and intensified.

Have I learned anything? Well, I have an unusual amount of tools and access to knowledge and resources that most people wouldn’t be aware is there. It’s quiet, it’s behind the scenes, but it is very strong. But honestly, I, as a person, am now only at the beginning. I’ve been preparing to end up at this starting line.

Which leads me to today….. and this nagging feeling. This deja vu.

There are some prayerful people who exercise something called a novena. This novena is basically a concentrated effort of praying for a particular intention for 9 days. Everyday, the person goes to their knees and offers up a sincere prayer for the same thing. There are many forms, many expressions of different kinds of prayers and different kind of patrons (people who have gone ahead of us, who understand and identify more closely with what your heart is praying for…. And are "experts" in knowing HOW to pray more truly for those intentions).

I hear 9 days calling to me…. I wonder what’s about to happen? =)

"Give reason for the hope that is in you."

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