I traveled in Europe and Central Europe visiting, studying and staying in monasteries. Not Christian, I knew one thing I would never get to be was a Czech monk, so it was a clear route to expanding experience. After years of this, on and off, I realized that I had never visited a monastery in the United States. About seven years ago I took a left turn instead of my usual right at the end of a long working summer and a day later arrived at a monastery in South Dakota where I stayed for four days. In their library I found a book on women saints with the following parable
“I have kept my little rule and maintained my little fasts and said my prayers faithfully,” the disciple said to the holy one. “Now what can I do to be enlightened?” And the wise one stood up, stretching arms to the sky. “Why not,” spreading fingers wide, “why not be completely turned to fire?”
This spring I took some big steps forward in a few areas, have peeled off protective skin in some others, and suddenly I’m experiencing movement on all fronts. Serendipity, coincidences, harmony with That Which Is — work, body, children, land, money, makings, nothing is safe. The practices of years don’t feel wasted but this has moved outside and beyond. What seems to be required of me now is continued action and regular peeling of that protective layer, welcoming humility, (I LOVE humility), appreciating the hell out of everything and being paid back in wonder. Happiness seems to feel just a little beside the point, a nice by-product.
¤Digression: A recent British study published in Psychology and Health found that people with “acquired brain injuries” were significantly happier than those who had none. As the recipient of three concussions, each two years and one day apart, I find this hilarious and obvious. End of digression.
Anyone who has lived in depression doesn’t take happiness lightly, that incredible sensation of living unweighted, yet it seems that working towards it at some point becomes counterproductive. When you have it you certainly can’t protect it. Beyond this point lies sustained action, once again the bliss of making. Discipline, expansion and the shining of light into the dark places in the world.
It’s a good next step in a house of fire.