Monday, February 23, 2009
Ecce ego, mitte me! – CREDO XLVIII
Then I heard the Lord saying, who shall I send? Who will go for me? And I answered, Here am I; send me. Go and tell the people:
“You may listen but not understand
Look and look again and not know....”
Their wits are dulled, their ears are deafened and their eyes blinded, so having eyes, they do not see, having ears they do not hear, having wits they do not comprehend, so that they may awaken and be healed.
– Isaiah 6:8-10
As most of you know, I was blessed in meeting my Teacher in 1944. At that time, he told me that there are Teachers unseen around us always trying to guide and help those of us wanting to be of service. Innocently I asked, “How does one get in touch with them?” And he answered, “All one has to do is pray sincerely and volunteer!” He laughed and added, “You’d be surprised how quickly you’ll be put to work, even if it is only a small thing to start with ...” Then he added, “There is nothing spooky about this, the door always opens out, the commitment is only between your own heart and Spirit. But they can’t interfere, you have to ask.” And I thought of Christ’s words, “Knock, and the door will be opened!” It seems they cannot help us unless we ask, and I still have problems remembering that because I feel unworthy. However, it seems to be a spiritual requirement.
I am sharing this because I am convinced that if you are reading this either you are already committed or wondering how to go about it! As I look back over the 64 years that have passed since that conversation, I can see that Ecce ego, mitte me has been the motto of my life, through ups and downs, and a series of inexplicable synchronicities, many of them connected to Jung, I might add.
My path eventually led me to the Hebridean island of Iona and its monastery, founded by St. Columba, and eventually I traveled to Lindisfarne, on the east coast of Northumbria, founded by his disciple St. Aidan. There I found a statue of Aidan with the motto carved into its pedestal. This was over thirty years after my meeting with M.
I associated the Here I am! for years with the boy Samuel in the Old Testament, but last Sunday the full quote from Isaiah came to me as I was listening at 6 am to a homily on TV! And this was the impetus for this Credo, because the state of the world in general seems so awful, so many people suffering in so many places, and so many people, alas, in our own country oblivious to it all, and we here wondering what we can do about it!
The answer I get always is the same – 1 x 1 x 1: “What you do for the least of thy brethren, ye do it unto me!”
Needless to say, I volunteered, and over the years as some of you know, life got pretty interesting. I think it is best described by Joseph Campbell as “the night sea journey”! But I am willing to wager that is true of you who are reading this. We have to suffer and learn not to suffer. On the other hand, each of us is now equipped to come from a real place, because when we are asked to help someone else, we have been there and we are not mouthing a psychology text! For me, this means trying to connect with anyone who comes into my life, however casually, in a real way.
I observed and learned this from an experience in an airport hotel at 5:30 am when my husband and I were having a quick breakfast in a dreary eating place with plastic tables and chairs. The other customers all seemed to be sleepy salesmen. It was a grey and hopeless kind of day. One by one, these men would pay the cashier, who happened to be a middle-aged woman with grey hair.
As each guy came up, I heard her pleasant voice asking them how they were, commiserating about the weather but assuring them with a laugh that it would get better, and so on. Her loving warmth was amazing and I drew Walter’s attention to her as well. She never failed to draw a smile from the customer. When we went up to pay our check, my darling Polar Bear put it best. He said to her “I hope you know that you bring the sunshine into this room.” Her face lit up. She said to us, “Thank you, I try to do my best.” The fact that this happened about twenty years ago and still inspires me, is a testimony. Her gift is still giving.* Come to think of it, all the best teachers I have known have taught by example. It’s not what they say alone but who they are.
As His Holiness the Dalai Lama says, “My only religion is kindness.”
This obviously is the first step. Each of us has a unique way of serving with different skills, professions, opportunities. The point is that little “pook” of love makes all the difference. The trap for the Age of Aquarius is that it is so transpersonal and needs the balance of its opposite sign, Leo, ruled by the Sun, the source of love. We may get a Social Security check but there is no love in the envelope. One pays the turnpike toll and a little green light says “Thank you.” Mother Teresa said wisely, “I believe in person to person, and that God is in everyone.” The first is praxis and the second is theoria! I noticed yesterday, as I thankfully can still hobble with two sticks up and down the dirt road adjoining my home, that as I wave to the infrequent cars that pass me, I waved six times. One car stopped, and a familiar nameless man cheered me on; two truck drivers and a woman waved back, and two strangers sped by looking straight ahead. Not bad. When I would drive up and down the coast of Western Ireland, it was never ever less than 100%. That’s where I learned the custom.
So now I sign off on a computer, hoping you may somehow receive the pook of love hidden in.
*I can’t resist relating another extraordinary incident: I had lectured to a Jung Society in Milwaukee, and my husband and I had to catch a very early bus back to Chicago, where I was teaching at The C. G. Jung Institute in Evanston. We were in a dingy, grubby smoke-filled waiting room with about fifteen sleepy people, including a young mother with a three-year-old boy. In the midst of the silence, the child’s voice suddenly proclaimed, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!” Everybody was startled, to say the least, and the little boy giggled and hid his face in his mother’s shoulder. She smiled.
Posted by IonaDove