Wait, what? I actually had that experience? That insight?
Paging through my old journals turns out to be an archeological dig that yields an occasional gem of insight, but one that has remained uncut, untumbled, unpolished: unintegrated.
Recently I unearthed this entry, penned more than seven years ago.
There are times I want to just weep and it’s not “about” anything. My mind goes looking for a “reason” for grief or sorrow, and sometimes finds one, but that is a kind of after-the-fact approach, and not particularly fruitful.
What turns out to be fruitful is letting my impulse to weep become vivid. Then I notice that my my feeling has a gravity to it, a sinking quality that takes me deep into a well. There I encounter what I am starting to call – and not with a lot of confidence, but starting to call: joy. An awareness comes of something light, a taking flight, and the weeping-feeling and “joy” are intimate, they are married. Their joining has something to do with the beauty, preciousness of life, and that beauty and preciousness has something to do with its fleeting nature, with mortality.
This is quite a revelation to me. Joy has been a mystery, an unattainable goal, a hunh?, a head scratcher.
During the cycle of the Jewish High Holy Days, that runs for a 62 day cycle in the late summer to early fall I can intelligently if not comfortably make my way through introspection, remorse, taking actions that repair relationships, awe, holiness, the language of error and judgment: but the holidays that close the season, that are presumably shot through with “joy”? I’ve approached this part of the cycle with a sense of isolation, disappointment, mystification.
So it is no small thing for me to arrive at a growing edge where grief and joy of this subtlety are companions and teachers. The effects are like having felt oxygen-deprived for years…and then breathing in ocean and mountain air together, over and over again.
That’s what I call a rock of a moment: untumbled, unpolished, unintegrated – an opportunity not yet lost, because it beckons me back to practice.
Recently I’ve had a lot of must-weep moments, along with a heightened sense of my mortality, and have reached for my wonderful herbal friend Pulsatilla (common name, Windflower.)
There is no better first-aid than a few drops when ready to dissolve into tears, looking into the dark side of life.
And I can testify that these recent must-weep moments have no companion, nothing I would even consider venturing to call “joy.”
So now, along with taking the help of my herbal friend, I also have to make time to sit.
To follow the wisdom of this old insight: let weepiness become vivid, cut, tumble, polish me.
Allow insight to teach me, heal me, awaken me anew.
And I must be willing to sit without hope of recreating that delicious marriage of weeping and nascent joy, to sit without hope even of integration. That’s the nature of practice.