Today’s Word from Sheila Weidendorf…
As many of you know, I live betwixt two worlds—between my very beautiful life here on Whidbey Island and my very beautiful life in Rajasthan, India. The scales are currently in Whidbey’s favor in terms of time—most of my time is spent here and I am truly thankful for this amazing place. Whidbey Island is a an out-of-time, out-of-space crucible for healing. I have seen it time and time again—people are magically, mystically called to the island and then experience great life transformation.
But even though I only spend a little time each year in India (until I move there!), a huge part of my heart and soul lives there ALL the time. And I often feel more at home in India than I do in the U.S., in many ways. This makes my life itself a rather liminal experience. Am I here or there? Both? Neither? Just where is the I AM that I evidently am?
I really do try to live each day as present as possible to the moment—and place—in which I find myself. Wherever I go, after all, there I am. And each moment is its own beautiful truth, and nothing is ever gained by lamentation. Remaining present to each day, each moment, each breath is a way to live meditatively—whether the meditation of the moment is tears, or laughter, or music, or silence. Everything is holy, after all, and everything can be a prayer.
As challenging as it can be to live this simultaneous and seemingly dual reality, this “liminal life” comes with a beautiful invitation to pay deep attention to what “is” in every moment. It is an invitation to live in the grace of accepting each moment as it comes, wherever I find myself. For me, this kind of living is closely related to the call of Jesus to be in–and not of–the world. I don’t think this is in any way a negation of our earthly existence. After all, this earth is beautiful, and we ourselves are part and parcel of God’s creation.
And life here in God’s creation is indeed a gift. At the present stage of our biological and spiritual evolution–there is no living without a body and without some set of earthly circumstances. To simply be here is to be of God. So, what’s the problem with being “of the world?”
Perhaps “worldliness” can be related to emotional states, at least for a minute and for the sake of making a point. Emotions are neither good nor bad–they just ARE. And we are certainly entitled to our feelings, are we not? After all, there is a time for everything under the sun–rejoicing, lamenting, bliss, sorrow, and certainly righteous indignation too when facing down injustice. But our emotions are to be felt, considered as gateways of understanding ourselves and each other; our emotions are NOT to become our masters! Of what use is obeisance to a fleeting and temporary master?!?
Likewise, our earthly journeys, victories, follies, and the rest. Here we are, inheritors and stewards of all of God’s creation, with our families and our societies and cultural backdrops and religious contexts. Fine! But ARE we any of those things? Really? Perhaps the mandate to be in and not of the world is more an invitation to remember that we are spiritual beings, souls enfleshed for a time here on Earth. We are here to learn, to grow, to live, to love–and then to leave it all behind as Paster Jim so marvelously discussed with us this past Sunday!
So perhaps being not OF the world is an invitation to remain ever open to possibility, a reminder that our attachments are temporary bondage to temporal realities– sometimes beautiful, sometimes terrible, but always fleeting and illusory. But if we can walk the path beneath our feet fully, remembering that we are children of God, all, we can walk in delight, sharing our hearts and our God-given light and not worry ourselves over much about the rest of it. We can then be free to accept this gift of life on God’s green Earth, remain in gratitude for whatever comes our way, remain free from attachment to any particular outcome, do our work, shine our individual and collective Light, then be ready to leave any and all things behind as our soul’s path rises up to meet our feet, whether while here on Earth or when it comes time to meet our Maker.
In this way, it really doesn’t matter where we are. Am I in India? On Whidbey Island? It matters not. What matters is that I at least try to live authentically, to learn to love and love and love more and more deeply and cast that net far. What matters is that we live from the inside out–NOT the other way around! That’s what it means to not be OF this world–it means that we maintain our integrity and our equilibrium regardless of the vicissitudes of the world, regardless which political party takes power, regardless what evil befalls. We are not THAT. We remain whole, beautiful, loved and loving children of God.
I want to share today a song from one of my all-time favorite artists, Joan Armatrading. It’s called, “In These Times.” Essentially, she is singing the central truth of all times, of all contexts, for all people: In these (or any!) times when there is so much cause for despair, what we need is simply more love. As God loves us, let us be Lovers in this world. So be it.
Click HERE to watch a video of Joan Armatrading’s song.