How do you know when you’re at the bottom? Does it look a certain way? Does it feel a certain way?
I’ve asked myself this question a million times over the last few months…Is THIS the bottom?
Every time I think I’m there, that I’ve made it and the only way to go is up, I fall again. Sometimes I think grief is bottomless. It is always there, lurking in the shadows. The grief of abandonment, the grief of 9-11, the grief of divorce…it aggregates and waits. So that when you least expect it, likely when you think you’re over it, it emerges like a big swell.
“Hitting bottom is not a weekend retreat. It’s not a goddamn seminar. Stop trying to control everything and just let go. LET GO.” (Chuck Palanuhk)
Is THIS love? Is it the willingness to lose? To risk it all? Does loving big mean losing big? Is loss a prerequisite to graduating to greater love? Rumi says love is…”to fall towards a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First, to let go of life. Finally, take a step without feet”.
Perhaps THAT is what faith is. The falling, the failing, the letting go, the bottom…it’s not just an end, but a beginning. Perhaps faith is finally accepting that we are not in charge. That we don’t know everything. That we cannot control the conditions of our heart. That we cannot undo the shame and regret. That we cannot bring back the people we have lost. But it is the belief that if we were to give it all up, WE’D BE OK. We’d be broken open. And perhaps, what would be leftover, is the very love we are seeking.
And so our practice today is SURRENDER. Surrendering to the tension and discomfort. Surrendering to powerlessness. Surrendering to all that we don’t know. And seeing what is left over when we really LET GO.
Here is a prayer from Anne Lamott that helped me through.
“Help. We can be freed from a damaging insistence on forward thrust, from a commitment to running wildly down a convenient path that might actually be taking us deeper into the dark forest. Praying “help” means that we ask that something give us the courage to stop us in our tracks, right where we are, and turn our fixation away from the Gordian knot of our problems. We stop the toxic peering and instead turn our eyes to something else; to our feet on the sidewalk; to the middle distance; to the hills, whence our help comes. Something else. Anything else. Maybe this is a shift of only 8 degrees, but it can be a miracle. It may be one of those miracles when your heart sinks, because you think it means you have lost. But in surrender, you have won.”
(PS - I swear I am getting to the part where I write about rainbows and unicorns. It’s coming, I just know it)