Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them. The Little Prince
I drove up to the monastery and knew I was home. Joseph Campbell refers to those places where we feel safe and bring us much joy as “bliss stations.” I suppose if we’re lucky enough there may be more than one. Unfortunately, for some they may have been forgotten and for others imagined only in dreams.
I didn’t know it then, but within those walls was planted a seed in the heart of a thirteen year old that didn’t know much about God, but knew this was holy ground tended to by holy men. They had something that I deeply wanted and sensed that it was whatever comes after good, whatever is sustaining, whatever is painful, whatever is holy, and whatever teaches one to learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
A life time later I was returning to this holy ground, still tended by those holy men to continue learning about the unforced rhythms of grace in my life. Looking back on youth, I have learned that it is not a pool to gaze adoringly into. It is a pool that we gaze into in order to measure the distance our bodies and souls have travelled. A journey sustained and carried through the rhythms of grace that flow beneath the frozen rivers of our lives. A cold baron existence where the howling winds of forgotten dreams, broken hearts, illness, disappointments exist as if locked within a frigid heart struggling to exist on the frozen tundra called life.
The rhythms of grace bring us to where the cross tides of innocence and knowing most often meet in the same person – that tough yet fragile thirteen year old who crept into my dreams one night and stayed there. A little boy who had forgotten that he was big and strong and who once knew exactly where he was headed. A little boy full of confidence and determination who knew what life had in store and had answers even before the questions. And like all little boys, hadn’t yet forgotten the art of living in the moment.
Many hours later as I left the monastery and the loving prayerful gaze of my mentor, Father Xavier, I understood that the seed planted those many years ago had indeed sprouted and become holy ground tended to by a holy man. Father reminded me that a life centered in the Holy can only be that which coexists with whatever comes after what is good, whatever is sustaining, whatever is painful, whatever is holy, and whatever teaches one to learn to dance with the unforced rhythms of grace flowing deep within and below.
My journey has taken me to new places familiar yet recognizable by their haunting familiarity. If in the first part of life, I was busy filling my box – becoming as it were a grownup. I am now sitting on the shore peacefully gazing back into the pond of my life measuring not the distance travelled, but rather measuring the distance to return to innocence, holiness and trust.
The view from the shore is simple and pristine. It’s nothing more and nothing less than knowing I can with great ease and confidence live into my life and its blessings. I no longer need to create them or even discover them. The frozen tundra of my life has become a fertile land nurtured by rhythms of grace flowing freely through my heart.
Do I have any doubts? No, absolutely not. All of my life has become a “bliss station” guarded over by the Holy One and the grounds keeper that I call lover, friend and partner. Today, God’s name is Christopher.