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“Let that meek (quiet) darkness be your whole mind and like a mirror to you. For I want your thought of self to be as naked and simple as your thought of God, so that you may be with God in spirit without fragmentation and scattering of your mind.”

THE BOOK OF PRIVY COUNCIL , Author Unknown (same as THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING)

“Do not imagine that when I call it a darkness or a cloud that it is a cloud amassed with vapours that float in the air, or a darkness such as you have in your house at night, when your candle is out, for such a darkness. With little imagination you could picture the summer skies breaking through the clouds or a clear light brightening the dark winter. This is false, it isn’t what I mean for when I say “darkness” I mean a lack of knowing, just as whatever you do know or have forgotten is dark to you, because you do not see it in your spiritual eyes. For this reason, that which is between you and your God is termed, not a cloud of the air, but a cloud of unknowing.”

THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING, Author Unknown

Cloud of Unknowing is an ancient text and may be, some say, the origin of contemplative practice and dialogue within the Christian faith–we know meditation, contemplation, and philosophy around it is an ancient practice worldwide.

The Sufis did it, the Kabbalists did it, the Buddhists did it, the Mystics were everywhere, all over the globe and in every faith practice doing it. But what is it? Ah, the hard part. Deep inner silence, spiritual and corporeal centeredness, listening and hearing, and as always dealing with the “unknowing” of it all.

Whether we are deep in addiction, eating disorders, PTSD, or any disordered plane of existence we are plagued by the known demons and enemies in our minds, hearts, and souls. Part of addiction rhetoric says, “Let go and let God.” Mantras become mantras because they are so simple, succinct, and right on. This is no exception. Whether you believe in God, a universal force, or just human morality there is a part of us all that want to hold on to what we KNOW in life, about life, about ourselves. Knowing is comforting, even when, and it often is, it’s misleading.

When we KNOW we have no room to GROW. Unknowing however, as uncomfortable as it may be, leaves us ripe and ready for growth, change, and expansion beyond anything the known could ever provide. I say this with all humility as I struggling with my own battle of unknowing in my life right now. How I hate it!  And how I love it!  Maddening tis’nt’ it!

Can you spend a minute, an hour, a day intentionally “unknowing”?  Undoing all the dogmas, preconceptions, all the stuck-ness, ruts, predispositions….and just LET GO!  Give it a shot–it is scary like falling but also freeing like flying.

I am paragliding my way through the present, coasting across the sky to an unknown landing zone.  We will see where it leads.  Follow you own wind, paraglide into your own unknowns….and I hope everyone has a lovely weekend!

Where then, you say shall I be?
Nowhere by this tale!
Exactly you say this well,
for there would I have you.
For nowhere physically is everywhere spiritually.

THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING, Author Unknown

Happy Birthday Candles on Angel Foods Cake by Rob J Brooks on Flickr

“Happy Birthday Candles…” by Rob J Brooks on Flickr

 

Today is my husband’s birthday.  He turns thirty.  A milestone birthday that we had planned to share together in some pinnacle life moment kind of way.  But he is in New Jersey and I am in Florida and I feel pretty blue. 

 

I always had a hard time with my birthday.  As an international adoptee, born in Bogota, Colombia, and adopted at 4 months of age my birthday was always a loaded day; often full of more questions and melancholy than anything resembling celebration. 

 

This year, however (although my birthday is also looming a month plus a day off from my husband’s), all I can think about is his.  I know it is important to him.  I know he loves to celebrate it and this year his celebratory spirit has been deflated by our distance, future uncertainty, and separation of not just place but a family divided.  I feel more awful today than a hundred melancholy birthdays of my own put together. 

 

We have talked about celebrating a joint birthday on the Friday after mine next month and that would be nice.  Yet no amount of frosting can make this day sweet.  It is what it is–a sad day to be divided. 

 

And yet, at the same time I think with a bit of a smile of the older gentleman I encountered in a waiting room earlier today.  I was eavesdropping or as I like to think of it partaking in a professionally affiliated social study of humans in their environment.  This kind of experience, one purely observational, can often bring rich personal rewards and insights.  This was such a moment.

 

The stout, stocky man with thin but crisp white hair and glasses smiled “Hello” at myself and the man sitting to  my right.  They he leaned in towards the man to my right, and whispered with a bit of glee, “I have something to tell you.”  He said his daughter had called that morning and asked him how he was doing to which he replied, “Well I have to go to the doctor today to get a tooth removed and my ankle has been aching some.”  The man’s daughter shouted, “Thank God! That’s all!” 

 

The man telling the story laughed at his own recollection and smiling hobbled on his injured ankle over to his seat.  The man he had whispered his tome of wisdom to smiled as well and said, “Perspective, huh, I guess it is all about perspective.” 

 

I sat in my chair two seats away and smiled as well.  I began thinking of today and all of the reasons I was sad, which were real reason, and within my own reality I tried to find my own perspective. 

 

Perspective.  Especially when we are down it is something that is so hard to find.  Even more so I find it hard as what I am feeling today is not so much pity for myself but sadness on the behalf of someone else.  I wish with all of my heart that I could make this day wonderful for my husband but I know that we are apart and that is not going to change and I understand that I cannot change his experience because I want it to be different.

 

So what do I do about me?

 

I have decided, at least on my own behalf, to try to carry the elderly man’s tome with me today and try to have a little perspective.  I want to bring a mantra of, “That’s all?” about my circumstances. 

 

Yes, we are apart.  Yes, it is his birthday.  But that is all.  We are both healthy (well with me that is always relative with my countless chronic funks but relative to me I’m pretty good).  We are together, in marriage and in love, if not in geography.  We have jobs in a job-less economy.  We have strengths both individually and as a collective duo; quite a few of which have been enhanced by this time apart.  Our seperation is temporary; we are separated only by occupational circumstance not by hemispheres or continents or years away at war.   

 

I will accept that today has its hints and hues of sadness but I refuse to drown in it.  I will try to maintain a “That’s all?” focus on my path forward and carry that mantra nugget forward, in my secret “Just in case I need it” pocket of tricks for mental health and emotional well being.  I am grateful for my chance encounter and my ears capable of a quick eavesdropping/social assessment–however you want to look at it. 

 

I miss my husband desperately, more than I could have imagined, but I am grateful for all the good and that helps me with my perspective on the bad.  This focus is work but work that is worth it to give a bad day a little less tartness and bite. 

 

Perhaps tonight I will even be inspired enough towards proactive action to FINALLY get started on my required reading for my upcoming first day of yoga school!  Perhaps. 

 

The following is for my husband who I am thinking about constantly today:

 

The simple lack of her is more to me than other’s presence.

Edward Thomas

  

And ever has it been known that love knows not its own depths until the hour of separation.

Khalil Gibran

May 2020
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