Monday, July 11, 2005

The Edge


A master of the spiritual journey is the African American mystic, Howard Thurman, who was reportedly a spiritual guide to Martin Luther King and many other prophets of our time. In the collection of writings Meditations of the Heart he has a short paragraph reflection called "The Growing Edge." He is speaking about that spatial zone in our life when we are most open to growth. He says, "Look well to the Growing Edge. All around worlds are dying and new worlds are being born..." Life brings change to us, and the path of growth is the open hand, which releases and receives and releases and receives. And it is the moment when there is space that new life can come, especially when we have reached the end of our limits. He states it eloquently this way, "It is the extra breath from the exhausted lung, the one more thing to try when all else has failed, the upward reach of life when weariness closes in upon all endeavor." The retreat experience is an attempt to deliberately place one in this space of the "growing edge.' The spiritual writer, Richard Rohr, calls this "liminal space." Whether a short or a year long retreat, the schedule and the discipline is such to move into liminal space. The hours of formal silent sitting practice are increased, the external sources of social and emotional support are severely limited. The role of being "hermit" wears thin, the romance leaves quickly. There is just you and your practice, nothing to divert you, nothing to excuse you. There is only Breathing Yeshua, nothing else. And one moves into an emptiness that is the liminal space of growth, when what is essential can be revealed. There is no reward system, there is no quid pro quo, the bowing and offering are itself all that is to be found and strangely to our ego-mind it is complete, it is enough. This creates crisis for the ego that continually seeks reward, living in the world of self and other. The numinous world is just ceaseless bowing and ceaseless self-offering. It is its own fulfillment in the flow of Divine Life. To do this and find one's true life is to let Christ live in us.
Many blessings,
Bill Ryan