Beyond Blue

“Come to the edge, he said. They said: We are afraid. Come to the edge, he said. They came. He pushed them and they flew.”

I found that quote by Guillaume Apollinaire a month or so ago and I loved it.

Because it sums up, with considerable accuracy, a few of the recent transitions I’ve made: with my work, with family relationships, with some friendships. In retrospect, everything is peachy. But in all of these situations, I’ve pretty much been forced to make the change, only to look back and see it’s value and the goodness that has come from it. No transition has ever come without the awful knot in my stomach when I wonder how long the ham I ate for lunch has been in the fridge. But I think I’m getting more tolerant of sitting with that knot instead of running from it like it’s the boogey man with a sharp weapon, or projecting it on to someone else, although I still do plenty of that.

In her new book, “Hidden Treasure: Uncovering the Truth in Your Life Story,” renowned spiritual teacher Gangaji (formerly Toni Roberson Varner, but not like &%$ formerly known as Prince) tells beautiful stories to get readers to push themselves a tad more, to risk, and to begin or advance a spiritual adventure. I enjoyed her essay on spiritual maturity because I have been going through a few growing pains myself, and her words help me to make sense of it.

I especially liked her comparison of spiritual growth to the first flight of a baby eagle:

At the dawning of spiritual maturity, as in biological maturity, a push or even a shock is often necessary to provide the catalyst for essential growth. The birth of true knowing follows the death of the previously known. What was previously known may have been true in its time, but when finished becomes false knowing or ignorance.

It is not always so easy to simply put away what we have outgrown. We don’t often choose to leave a protected place. Although some things are easily put aside or easily fall away on their own, transformational leaps take us, or throw us, into unknown territory with no reference points. The baby eagle may or may not have noticed that his survival depended on his protectors flying back and forth with his nourishment. Flying may never have been considered in his baby bird brain. Likewise, we may have never noticed that throughout time, in all cultures there have been sublime examples and stories of living freely. Spiritual nourishment prepares us for flying, but we only fly when we take the leap, or are pushed, into the unknown.

We may feel an internal pull toward what is calling us in this unknown realm and be terrified of it at the same time. Or we may ignore the pull altogether until we find ourselves losing what we never considered could be lost—our nest—and desperately fighting the unknowability we are left with. The more we give our attention and life energy to fight the unknown, the more we experience hell.

When we can recognize that the soul matures naturally and sometimes with pain, we can be more willing to recognize the space between one phase and the next. Usually we desperately try to cling to what no longer is, or deny that we have lost everything we know, or attack those around us in anger and fear. We overlook the spaciousness in the shift between one reality of life and another. If the baby eagle doesn’t resist falling then the moment of falling before flying is just as sweet as flight. If we don’t resist whatever is being experienced, then the underlying sweetness of life is found even in the most bitter parts.

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