A couple of years ago I wrote this blessing. It garnered significantly more interest than anything else I have written here. Strictly speaking I didn’t write it. It was given to me early one Monday morning, not long after Easter, and I wrote it down.
The week before I had been away for a week’s holiday with my partner in Appledore, Devon. She had booked on a ceramics course with Sandy Brown and I had the days to myself. I had fully expected that I would spend the time exploring the North Devon landscape and coast. Instead I found myself staying indoors. I didn’t want to go out. I didn’t want to see people. I didn’t want to do anything very much. I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love. I prayed. I stared out the window. I felt guilty for what I thought was wasting the opportunity of this holiday. North Devon is beautiful and I thought I should be making the most of my time (and our money). I felt guilty that I didn’t want to go and chat to the people on the ceramics course, find out what they were up to, and be personable and encouraging.
Over the days I felt God pull at a loose thread in my tangle of thoughts, and offer me a different point of view. I came to see that my feeling was the consequence of a not-fully-conscious idea that I am not good enough, and that I have to ‘make an effort’, to improve myself, to make something of my life – an idea I acquired at home and in school. I saw that I had made a project of this holiday rather than a pleasure, research rather than recreation, achievement rather than amusement.
In the quiet of my solitude, I found my self writing to myself what I ‘heard’ God saying in contrast to this impetus:
“There is nothing that You want me to do. You just want me to enjoy being alive.”
“If I do nothing with my life except follow my nose and enjoy being alive, then that would be all right. You might even be happy with a life lived like this.”
“My life does not have to have a meaning … or … it is all right if its meaning is that You enjoy life through my enjoyment of life.”
“Maybe the criteria of a good day is not how much I have achieved but how full my heart is of gratitude.”
“I do not know the meaning of life. I shall never know. All I can know is what I am curious about, or what I love.”
When I boiled this down to essential consolation of the week, it was this:
There is nothing You need or want me to do for You. There is nothing to prove, no one to appease, and one to impress.
The essence of my desolation is the belief that I am not yet good enough, and that I must work hard to achieve an acceptable state of grace.
But… There’s more… It is not enough to assert that I am good enough after all. At heart it is understanding that the notion of being good enough or not is an entirely human construct in which God has no part. God is outside the realm of comparison and criticism and evaluation.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.
You are the Creator and Ground of the Universe. You created me, and everything, out of love (‘out of’: both in the sense of ‘because of’; and in the sense of ‘using the raw material of’ – “the love that moves the sun and the other stars” Dante Alighieri). You have no need for me to make it (the Universe) better, or to make myself (this little scrap of the Universe) better. I am supposed to enjoy life. This formulation is utterly in accord with that first time You touched me and revealed Yourself to me.
And, this is my greatest gift to You: that I enjoy being alive, and in me, as me, You enjoy being alive; because, although I am not You, yet You are what I am.
In the end, being ‘in’ this body is not fundamentally about journey or growth or development or learning or self-improvement – though these might all be fun and make life interesting. It is certainly not about making the grade. It is being alive – being alive to yourself – being alive as yourself – being alive as a self – God being alive as yourself. It is a gradual and progressive letting go into the rapture of being alive.