From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:
Standing there afar
my habitat held in your hand
my heart’s pure ache so palpable
the world must sense my longing
but turn from me as
from some clanging bell.
How many labyrinthine turns must I traverse?
How many sandals must I wear sole thin?
How many times pray “show the way”?
What game of hide-and-seek has been ordained
among the tall trees of my weary mind?
How many clues must I search out
to later disregard?
Am I to be not privileged to sleep
before the hearth before I die?
or sup at table?
or rock contented all way round
and there attend the fire?
to sing and laugh
and let my homing spirit feel the joy?
There is a myth about the creation of souls that helps me to understand why we falter and fall away from God. This myth, first expounded by Ruth Montgomery’s Guides in the 1960s, says that in the beginning God sent out from Himself sparks of light, souls in embryo, to experience life. Some wandered farther, away from God, and got into trouble. Others stayed close to Him and were guided by His greater Light.
We sometimes need to learn from both good and evil, and choose the good from a sense of knowing, and in that John Milton’s great treatise Areopagetica is right. When we choose good from experience, we truly know. It would be wrong, though, to deliberately set out to experience evil in order to learn from it. It is enough that we learn to avoid the choices that take us away from God. In the myth, the fear to wander from God, felt by those souls in embryo who stayed close to Him, seems to be the flip side of Love.
There is a long tradition in Christianity that says Christ needs our hands and feet to carry out his mission in this world. We might be lost indeed if it weren’t for the souls who cling to God and learn of Love. We do know that sometimes we learn best from others like ourselves, people with two hands and two feet, homo sapiens.
God’s Light grows dim in us when we turn a deaf ear to His pleading. But He stands ever ready to rescue us by whatever means it takes.
Every religious tradition, in every age, says that only Love matters. In the end, this truth is the only truth yet to discover. And it will be no secret we are healed.