The last place we want to go is into our suffering, the weepy skin of our pain, the emotional tsunami of our fears.
The last place we want to dive is the swimming pool of our repressed tears, our teeth-chattering restlessness, our nervous not-knowing, the embarrassing way we intend one thing before reacting in the oldest patterns of our live-long days.
Yet the last place we want to go is where our savior lies. Where everything we’ve been dreaming lies. Where God sits on the throne and angels flit around our crown. Where Buddha chuckles. Where Allah sings. Where the Great Spirit unfolds us in arms so wide we’re hugged through Eternity.
Into the fire, into the fire! When we’re ready, when we’re through resting, when we’re tired of agonizing, eventually we turn toward the flames. We’ve avoided this long enough. We’ve ignored this, shuttled this, hated this, avoided this for so many days and nights that we finally know there is no place left to turn.
So turn we do. Perhaps it’s Presence itself who turns us, who says, “Now, now, you have enough courage to enter the fire. If you entered yesterday, you would have burned to ash. If you entered tomorrow, it would be too late. But today~~let us hold hands~~and I will show you the Mystery of the Coals, how bare feet can barely touch hot coals, how fire can simultaneously destroy and rejuvenate.”
Into the flame we go, we go! Into the heart of our suffering, into that which yesterday threatened to shatter the red heart into trillions of lost pieces. Into the flame we go, and we feel the pain, the heart-thumping pain, the horror of it, the burning flesh of it, and we breathe and breathe and breathe in the deathly scent of such exquisite awful pain and~~
~~and in the breathing, the hurt of it, the terrible hurt of it, something rises simultaneously, something which embraces, something which sings, something sweet, something (can it be?) filled with joy, filled with rapture, filled with bliss? Here in the midst of exquisite pain exists absolute joy. How can it be? How can it be that what we’ve avoided is what we’ve been seeking all these years?
This joy has no second, no opposite. It lives alongside that horrible pain, it embraces it, it dances in the red dawn with it.
Now we know. Now we feel it. Now something deep inside relaxes, eases, releases. Something looks forward to the next suffering moment~~if it arises again. Ahhh, we shall get to feel that suffering/joy again today, perhaps! Perhaps…
Thunder rumbles in the distance. Outside the robin blinks a sleepy eye. Your stomach rumbles. Suffering arises. Joy embraces it all, unconditionally.