[From:  The Call, by Oriah Mountain Dreamer]

“…I see and am with the fears that hook me into wanting things to be different from the way they are, fears that pull me into the belief that a different location or situation – a more creative job, a home in a more natural setting, more money or time or other resources, a relationship with someone who has the same “spiritual” goals or daily practice – is needed if I am ever to find deep abiding peace, if I am ever to learn how to love well.  These beliefs are rooted in deeper if intermittent fears:  the fear that I am not now and never will be able to hear the call at the center of my life accurately or fully enough to know how to consistently live who and what I am; the fear that the Beloved, tired of my inability to get it right, will simply stop calling, stop sending out the voice that can guide me home…

This is what I learned on my quest:
There is simply no place, no location or situation, that cannot be used to wake up to and live all of what and who you are, if you are willing to show up, to be present in the only place you ever have access to:  here.”
[pgs. 77-78]

“And you can’t trick the universe into giving you what you want by pretending to be at peace with how things are, by imitating what you think it would look like to be fully present where you are, all the while looking over your shoulder to see if some higher power has noticed and is about to deliver you from where you are and put you where you really want to be.”  (pg. 82)


16 thoughts on “Here

  1. I haven’t read Walter Mitty, but from the short excerpt you linked to, it seems to me he is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

    I’m just not sure exactly how that ties in to this post. Can you explain please? Et merci!

  2. Nooo, not PTSD, rather –daydreaming a better self. The parallel is that in his many pretenses of self, he is everyone but his real self, and is everywhere but where he really is.

    Indeed, “The Call”s ‘Here’ musing is powerful. I think we many of us don’t realize the truth of that second paragraph: we have to show up right here, right now, if we would truly live “all of what and who we truly are.” That’s what we have, and that’s where God and His others are.

  3. This really fits in with what I have come to believe and live with time, although in the past few days I haven’t been “living” it so well, since I’ve been finding myself wishing “some” things were different from what they are, and even letting people know about it, trying to do something to “change” those things that I know can’t be changed..Thanks for the reminder, Gab.

  4. Dissatisfaction is part and parcel of what we are in that we are made to be with God and therefore will not be truly at home until we’re with Him.
    Any longing for anywhere else but here, as described in the first paragraph, is common and yet if we really accept God’s will in our lives we need to accept that here is where God has planned for us, and once we’ve accepted our lot, then we can get started on working with the tools we have, the gifts we’ve been given.
    Without physically moving us, God can do great things with us, if only we let Him.
    Thanks, Gabrielle, for this, which as Pia says is indeed a reminder.

  5. I recall numerous times thinking if only I could work in a hothouse, the equivalent of a worker bee — separate from the world — I could pray while working, and even behave for an hour or two. It bothered me to fall prey [via workplace non-resistance–a strange ‘peace’] to low humour or gossip or to fail to live the Gospel or deliver Him into our midst somehow. It bothered me that I might be the opposite of what I had offered Him in the morn, despite my good intentions–despite even my prayers. But the Lord knows what He is doing at all times. He not only asks us to surrender every failure-to-come this day, but asks us to offer Him our own vulnerability to our weaknesses–to be willing to humanly fail, to trust that He will redeem and right us all even more. For me to avoid that vulnerability (by withdrawal of some sort) is made of as much pride as it is goodwill. He can work His wonders through any one of us, and He will appreciate our being in the moment with Him, even if we feel we’ve failed Him. Humility in deferring to Him is the seed of true wisdom. If we really love Him, He will be right there, working via our hearts amidst others, even if He is not presently on our tongue. We will carry Him in.

  6. Thank you, Pia –I was sadly sure I’d garbled all that beyond recognition.. but of course, Merton’s prayer says it best:

    My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. (emphasis mine) Amen

    And that’s the most shocking thing of all about our Lord: He appreciates our efforts, even if they crash, burn and knock out 3 teeth and half a bridge. Who are we that the Lord of the Universe should be graciously appreciative of anything of our doing?? But He is.

  7. C, “daydreaming a better self”. I see now; thank you.

    I truly appreciate all of your thoughts here; I find this to be one of the most difficult things in life, embracing the “here” (which does not mean that one cannot try to effect change for the better during one’s life), but really accepting the moment/situation without constantly fighting one’s reality. I need a lot of work in this area.

  8. Isn’t this one of the Buddhist beliefs that Thomas Merton liked to refer to, as he became more and more interested in the Eastern religions? That idea that just “being present” in the moment was a revelation, a wonder, a small mircale, in and of itself…..that it allowed us to be more honest with God and with ourselves, and kept us open to Him? When we spend too much time pondering what has been….or focusing on what we hope will be – in the future, then we often miss what is right here, around us, before us and within us. Being present to the moment makes change more palatable. It makes contentment more possible. It helps us to be “at peace”….to surrender ourselves to His will for us. It slows us down, and causes us to focus. God is in the past, present AND future….but we, in our human limitations, can really ONLY be in the here & now…..even tho we often try to live in a way that is in complete opposition…and thereby miss the opportunities & possibilities that this simple, but amazing truth affords us. Interestingly enough, Western civilization has struggled with this view for the last 100 yrs or so. “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”, so whatever you do, don’t waste your time looking around your here & now. If you do, you might be disappointed or frustrated… focusing on the “future possibilities”, then our graping for happiness is always just a little further around the next corner….rather than right here, where we are. I recall a quote from a high school English class, in which our teacher asked us to find a quote to use in writing a paper….mine was this: “Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne

    I have been trying to remind myself of that these past 35 yrs or so…. 🙂

    Thank you for another thought-provoking and stimulating discussion, Gabrielle (and Pia, Ann & C)!! 🙂 God bless you all!

    (Additional note: When I was a little girl, I used to watch many old B&W movies with my mom…..and I can clearly remember Walter Mitty! In fact, I was telling someone about (the actor) Danny Kaye just the other day (who had never heard of him)… interesting & thought-provoking that movie was (and is)! Danny Kaye made several movies that I enjoyed….and now, 70 yrs later, they are still meaningful to me! I wonder if my son will say that about movies that he and I watched together, when he was younger. And if any of them made an impression on him, while we shared in that present moment of “here and now”, that he will still remember 40 yrs. later… ) 🙂

  9. “There is simply no place, no location or situation, that cannot be used to wake up to and live all of what and who you are, if you are willing to show up, to be present in the only place you ever have access to: here.”

    here and now. it’s really all we have 🙂 thanks for the reminder.

  10. Kristin, yes – both you and Carol have reminded us that this was a theme close to Merton’s heart as well. And it’s not as if it’s anything new – contemplative writers have focused on it for centuries, and we can see it expressed in other ways and using other vocabulary such as Holy Detachment or Abandonment to Divine Providence or Practising the Presence of God, etc., etc., all of which involves being present in the moment and embracing the reality of the space in which we find ourselves – all the way up to current teachers like Oriah Mountain Dreamer and Eckhart Tolle, whose “being in the now” I posted on a good while back – this is certainly not just a Christian theme. So why do we find it so difficult for the most part?

    Lucy says of the here and now, “it’s all we have”. So again, I wonder why it is such a huge spiritual roadblock for so many people.

  11. Now THAT is an excellent question, Gabrielle! Very likely worthy of a whole WEEK’S worth of “questions & answers”… 🙂

    I can’t speak for others, but only for myself….to CHOOSE to be present/focused/alert/alive in the moment means that I must stop “grasping” for what is around the next corner…as well as continuing to look back (often in grief & despair) on what has already occurred…..that I should choose to be present and CONTENT in that place/time/state….then, of course, the question comes along concerning what it MEANS (to me) to BE “content” – and this is not only with my present (past & future) circumstances, but also with my own self (even when I believe/trust that GOD loves me, wants me, “just as I am”…). To be “in the moment” means that I seek (first and foremost) to know God, to be at peace with Him (and also with myself), and that all the other “striving” takes a “back seat” – takes less priority (as each “present moment” passes into the next). This modern society in which most of us live is in complete opposition to this practice, and promotes some pretty serious “grasping” (what is it that the industrial world thrives on?). In fact, the “ratrace” makes it a TRUE CHALLENGE to practice such a choice. Turn on your TV or listen to your radio, and its pretty obvious. (I had a close friend who was a Carmelite hermitess, and she didn’t own a TV or a radio…) If Christians were to CHOOSE to be present to the moment (despite the “clamoring” all about, insisting how silly/pointless this would be), to be content in their awareness of their own preciousness to the Creator, they (I) would be of so much less use to the commercial interests of this world. In addition, God’s enemy would very likely have less influence over them (me).

    In addition, there is so much pain/distress in the world (in my world, as well as in the lives of those around me)…..being present (to His Presence) in the moment can be hard, as we (I) so often try (desperately, at times) to “escape” this pain. If this pain washes over us when we sit still for any amount of time (even in God’s Presence) then we (I) often prefer a ‘distraction” of some kind (any kind)…. we are (I am) so often caught up in fighting some sort of “battle”….struggling with some frustration, disappointment, disillusionment or challenge, some hurt that seeks to destroy/cripple me, at some level… I seek God’s help with these “battles”, and let go of the need to control everything, trusting the promise that He gives us in Romans 8:28? I am reminded of a famous quote: “Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle” -Philo of Alexandria

    Why does this “spiritual roadblock” exist at all? It’s probably one of the devil’s most basic of “tools” to trip us up, and to slow our progress. The more our society “progresses”, the harder it is to seek to hear that “still, small Voice within”….we (I) can even FEAR the silence that comes to us in the “here and now”, as it reminds us of the dark passages of life and death…..the Christian contemplative is thus more crucial than ever, to the progress of the Kingdom and to the understanding of the Gospel message.

    Paul expressed something akin to this experience in Romans,Chapter 7: 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

    God provides His mercy and grace for us (me), to not give up or lose hope. He forgives us (me) and loves us (me) and accepts us (me) in all our (my) faults, frailties and weakness. (He FORGIVES me!) If we (I) would allow this powerful truth/mystery to wash over me and thru me, then being present in the moment could truly be a place of peace, joy, contentment and His love….not a place to fear, or to avoid.

    Does knowing this possibility cause me to be MORE hopeful? Or LESS hopeful? (Is the glass half-empty, or half-full?) Just the mere fact that we (you and your readers, and me, myself and I) share in this same struggle of faith, is a source of genuine HOPE for me! And I am GRATEFUL to God for allowing our paths to cross in this lifetime!

  12. You’re right, Kristen, and long as there are parents who foster and encourage the competitiveness in their children, boasting about how little Johnny is the BEST whatever, I really don’t see how our society can heal from this. We are perpetuating it all the time and we’re condemning our kids to this same disappointment, frustration and void.

  13. We forget — especially if there are none around (physically) to remind us (or worse, if there ARE those who absolutely rule out holiness, and what else is the modern workplace if not that?) — that we are not in this yoke alone. Never.. and His yoking to us is not accidental at all, as was the Cyrenean’s to Him, initially. “My yoke is easy, and my burden, light.” What l o v e. He has indeed not left us Orphans of Golgotha! His Presence is timeless, geographyless.

    But indeed, in the onslaught of worldly ways and noise, neither of which is news nor as noisy as hell itself, we forget that there Is a beautiful pair of dark eyes very near ours. I believe in asking for the little as well as the immense, so I might just ask to be made aware of my yoke-Mate’s Head-sweat Scent..

    But I also recall that even Jesus had to endure times of not being allowed to pray as He wished. He was as exhausted as His men, but unlike them, He was not emptied out yet, so He sent them off to their verdant pasture for a bit to recoup, to fill up, while He remained in the enormity of the world’s suffering and ugly existentialism. He would catch a couple hours of sleep later, and then rise earlier than any of them, to go off to a deserted place…

    He had a holy yoke-mate, so to speak– Mary, but spiritually so, like our own yoke may be thought. He knew She was there every step of the way with Him, in every cold hard sleepless night around a small fire. Well, we need to know/remember/sense that our yoke-Mate is here every step of the way, too, even if we are not allowed to live/pray so.

  14. Kristin, your comment is very insightful, and covers many of the areas that Oriah Mountain Dreamer herself gets into in “The Call”. If you haven’t already read it, I think you would like it. There are a few points in your comment that I’d like to incorporate into another post, because Oriah Mountain Dreamer has, ultimately, a response to this question that is a little different from others I have read, and I found it very intriguing.

    Pia, it’s so true what you say about adults passing on this competitive spirit to their children generation after generation in unhealthy ways – I think you were responding to Kristin’s idea that if we would live in the present moment instead of always “grasping” we “would be of so much less use to the commercial interests of this world.” – competition, consumerism, ruthless climbing to the top…on and on it goes…but these are choices, and we are often looked at with disbelief or dismay or ridicule because of refusing to choose them. So be it!

    Carol, I think it really does help us if we can remember (as often as we need to) that Jesus, as you say, often didn’t have the time or opportunity to pray as He would have liked to…it’s one more way we can be in union with Him, isn’t it. And very true about our Yokemates, as Jerome was talking about recently too. This is really something visual that can help us, keeping in our mind’s eye (and our heart) the image of Jesus and Mary as our Yokemates. (and maybe some of us here can squeeze in the harness from time to time too; I’ve got one good shoulder left).

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