Surrendering to the unknown
This meditation has been inspired by one given by James Finley which can be found Here (scroll down to the bottom of the link to get to the spoken mediation). I want to credit him in inspiring these words and thoughts.
I stand at the edge of a vast ocean, it ripples gently today as if swaying to an under-water breeze. The sea is clear and I can see its floor from where I stand which gradually disappears as the water deepens.
Is this great sea love? A poem without words about the huge, uninterrupted love of The Beloved? If so, I am a tiny ameba held within its vastness, small and yet not insignificant. The ocean knows me, of this I am sure.
I walk in tentatively as I acclimatise to the feel of cold water upon my skin. The water rises with each step until I am at the precipice of decision. I can return and walk back to shore or allow my feet to become ungrounded. In this moment, I am aware that this decision could take me into places of unknowing, places that will continually invite me to trust, to be with what I don’t understand and yield to mystery. I lift my feet, I have chosen, I have given myself to this vast ocean of love and there is no turning back.
Imperceptibly at first I notice a current beneath. I feel gentle movement around my legs. My head is still above water and I notice that I am carried, that I am pulled outwards – towards the depths and away from the land. My heart notices too as it’s beats get stronger and more palpable. I notice places of fear within, of a desire to be in control, to get back to where I can stand. I try to return but the current is strong. Slowly I adapt to its pull and allow myself to go with what is, to surrender and let the water take me.
I have a sense of what’s coming next but that it won’t happen without my permission. The invitation doesn’t come with the clarity of words and yet I know it exists. Can I say yes? Can I say yes and yield to the complete unknown? Can I trust the water to look after me? I don’t know how much time passes but eventually a quiet yes forms within my being. I’m not even sure how it gets there but it’s present none-the-less.
At the same time that I become aware of the yes, I catch a glimpse of the distant land one more time before I am gently engulfed by the ocean. I am under it now, fully enveloped. I panic again, I can’t breathe, I want to see the land and its familiar landmarks, I want the ground beneath me, I want what I want. I struggle to get back to the surface whilst simultaneously falling down, down, down. I realise that I can choose to return to the top of the water but I also know that in letting go something MORE is on offer, something I can’t name, something deep, more true and real than I’ve yet encountered. I notice peace has come as a gift and it enables me to let go and let be what is. I’m given the gift to surrender once again.
I gradually, though not knowing how, stop thrashing and kicking and become still. Although I’m full of fear, I open my mouth and take a breath inwards. Instead of my lungs filling with water, I breathe in what I can only name as oxygen. I am sustained. I gradually become accustomed to breathing under water.
I’m now able to be more present to where I am and what it feels like to be here. I’m suspended in liquid, a kind of water in which I move slowly as if in dance. I’m still falling but the descent is slow. The water seems to join me in my movement, it seems to know me and respond to my very heartbeat. My mind doesn’t make sense of this and yet somewhere deeper within me knows that I’m perfectly held and safe. I notice that I’m naked and yet I don’t feel exposed, my nakedness reminds me that I’m completely seen with no part of me hidden, even the parts I may normally want to hide. In this seeing I feel no shame, I know only that I’m celebrated, loved and held in a compassionate gaze.
As I slowly fall, the light becomes dimmer. Darkness is the companion here. I begin to loose a sense of what is up and down, my only awareness of this comes from the gentle falling. At first I’m not sure I like this growing darkness, I don’t know what is within it, my eyes become unnecessary. In not seeing I’m less able to control, mark my path or observe my descent. The only choices are to try and fight the darkness by attempting to swim upwards or to give in once more to what is and trust that I continue to be held. At first I don’t like the not-seeing, the lack of control but as surrender comes I become accustomed to the ever-growing darkness and relax into it. I notice that the dark becomes a friend, a comfort and a place of not-knowing. The not-knowing invites me to become a friend of mystery and to trust ever more in the vastness of this ocean of love that touches every part of my body and soul.
The further I fall and the more the darkness deepens, I notice that I’m not alone, my eyes once more offered the gift of seeing. Strange and beautiful creatures come my way, throbbing with light, energy and indescribable colours. These creatures of the deep offer me hope, comfort and incredible beauty. They stir me to want to keep going downwards, to keep discovering the gifts of the deep. I notice too that I’m able to see more clearly but in a new way. I discover a knowing within me that can trust, that does feel utterly safe even in this unknown, unfamiliar place. A knowing that exists next to the unknowing and is at peace in doing so. I am confident of love, in the vast kindness of this place and that slowly becomes enough. I lessen my need to control, to plan, to know how this whole thing is going to work out. My home is love and love will carry me wherever I need to go.
I don’t know if this darkness will end or whether I will always be descending to deeper depths. I don’t know whether I even need or want the bright lights that once illumined my path. There is a safe hiddenness here, there is hope even in not seeing. Darkness has become a friend that offers great treasure. Love sustains me and love will remain with me. I surrender once again to the ocean, to continue to fall like a pebble into the mystery of great unknowing.