Sheep wander around me, slow round puffs with faces. An Irish mountainside slopes up to gnarled crags. The sea moves shining around us, around me and the mountainside and the sheep.
I hear her bubbling under the ground. The water. Underground streams. The sound never stops, but look as I might, I cannot see the living water herself. It’s there beneath the ground, under the surface.
The water trickles, its light song dancing on the edge of my mind. Fullness. I find it again around that corner high in the field. Gazing out at the sea, I lose track of sound. Behind me sheep stand plump and round.
The awareness touches my spirit with light fingers that never stop, the constant sound of a flowing stream.
Water runs just beneath the surface. The depths are holy. I can’t find where it opens. Everywhere I walk, I hear it singing, but there’s no spot to kneel and fill my cupped hands.
I hear singing, a light voice calling everything. All it says is welcome.
It beckons and they come. It doesn’t notice the blood on their clothes or the hard lines around their mouths. All it knows is one thing: “This is one of my own.” It pulls the hardened shoulders close and lets warmth flow, waiting for the softening.
Real heritage has nothing to do with our body mothers and fathers. It has to do with being true children of God, loved in that way, nurtured in that way, nurtured in ways we cannot imagine because they are so far beyond what we believe is real.
I have landed in a new country. What I knew in the old place means nothing here. The old words, the words I knew so well, mean nothing at all, like a dog barking. The rules here open into the field where everything can happen, where nothing hurts, where no one hates, no one even notices or complains or makes any judgment at all.
Like all new countries and new cultures, nothing here makes sense, and it shouldn’t. The only thing I know for sure is that I know nothing. Every rule is broken.
The things I thought were true are false. Even the biggest things—who is God, what is love, what is pain—are all new here, surprising, shocking, happy, thrilling.
There’s the touch of magic, the thing no one, not one person comprehends, the changes that seem foolish and nonsensical that make total sense, the death that is life, the breath that is death.
It feels so good. I’ve left behind my old family. All those lessons turned out to be just getting ready. All the striving, worry, depressions, divorces, titles, salaries, even the deaths, the grief, the praying, even the faith—Every bit of it was just stretching before the real music starts and I begin to dance.
This is the delight God takes in me. This is the impossibility, the laughing flowing hugging jumping truth that just as I am, with my ordinariness, I am exactly what God exalts in and laughs at and cherishes. I can stand and grin in the warm sunlight, the light that knows every single thought I have had, every single act I have done, knowing that as I am, heaven delights in me the way I have delighted in my babies’ antics.
How can this be in terrible moments? How can it be when people are beaten, tortured and executed?
The truth we cannot grasp is that even the murderer is part of God. Even the torturer, even the Nazi and the terrorist monsters somehow fit into God’s hand. I do not pretend to comprehend this at all.
But I know—really know in my gut—that love without limit means love that doesn’t even see or condemn any badness.
This is not forgiving anything. It is not that something is wrong and then God on a high throne forgives it. This is that no act, no thought is so horrible that Divine Love cannot touch the humanness, the good spark inside that individual.
There is no punishment and there is no achievement. There is no high or low. There is no death or life.
In my muscles I can feel the song beginning. It turns out it’s the middle of the song already, and I didn’t even realize I had started dancing. What’s changed is that now I know a tiny tiny thing. I know there is a new world that plays by astonishing, easy rules. Kindness and joy. Nothing to forgive. No limits. Cherishing.
Through the Wild Gate
It comes on me suddenly—an opening in the wall, a wild gate, nothing like what I imagined. Hanging branches and fluttering leaves make its edges rough and soft. It’s not quite an arch and not a hole. But I can go through.
A few steps, just a sigh, and I am on the other side. Behind me, above my shoulders, brushing my back are the pulsing leaves. I can’t remember what came before.
In this place the only thing I know is trust. I trust because it’s all I can do.
Thinking is just a board game with rules that change. Here in this place, I know. It permeates me, softens me, erases me. The power is all, and it is good.
Here there are no winners and no losers. Here there is only the kindness, the ease.
It’s not that I have decided not to think. I certainly did not make this happen. I did not decide and cause anything.
It’s more like standing close to a rock face that stretches so high that I can’t see the end. My face can feel the coolness of the stone. What I know is that there is no weight this mountain cannot bear. I am tiny; it is massive, more solid than anything I can imagine. And I can lean on it. It is there, my strength, my support, without limit.
It’s like standing on the ocean shore and then resting on the gentle water, knowing I can float easily on my back, softening, melting because the water never ends and no matter what, I can rest on it, in it. I am safe forever. The depths stretch away so far that I give up trying to understand. The horizon changes and even then, no matter what, the water loves me, nourishes me and holds me up.
Beyond the wild gate, good and bad mean absolutely nothing. The man who raped all those small children wanders towards an old tree and looks up in surprise. His eyes are gentle, and his fists are open and soft. The child he killed doesn’t even notice him as she runs past laughing.
It is wild here. Words slur into humming because no word can hold any meaning for long. A woman sings a low song about the joy of simply taking a breath, in and out, again, again, like waves lapping the shore.
What I know is that the rules are false. Every gleam, every spark of awareness rides on the light itself. Logic and linear thought simply do not matter.
The light, the joy sounds like an underground stream that no one can see, that has no single opening—a holy spring. There’s no point in trying to build a shrine because the opening is never distinct. Instead, with a power more solid than a mountain, a size so vast that no other shore is possible, again and again, in each instant something opens and holds out its arms to me, to us all.
It wants you to come. It holds out its arms to you. Through all time, forever, it has been waiting for this moment, for this instant when you take one step towards it.
The wild gate opens, and I step through. I move beyond time. Here is forever. Here is this instant. I breathe, in and out. No words come. I am. I am. I am.
I step through the gate and time falls away. Right now is Creation itself. Inside me, knowing laughs. Right now everything is possible. Just as a child makes a dinosaur out of play dough, you and I can make hope and safety for every being alive. It becomes real.
Here are the black families. Here they stay together, in cool, safe homes where there’s rich stew on the stove and a garden outside the back door.
Here are the Jews of Russia, Poland and Germany. Here they live long, safe lives in their villages, lighting candles, studying, chatting at the well.
Here is a gay teenager. Here his first love smiles openly across the auditorium, and when they take each other’s hands, everyone in the room smiles indulgently.
Here is the Muslim imam’s daughter. Here even the men who can’t read gather the little girls and boys so they can learn about science from the new teacher.
At the wild gate every label, every division melts. My body melts so that the Divine can dissolve into my soul. It’s not that I dissolve into God.
The Divine isn’t out there at all. It’s in here. In this instant. In me, deeper than the structure of my bones. Closer than sexual joy. In me, underneath every thought.
It’s that the Divine is always everywhere, and as I release what I thought was me, God laughs—I laugh too—and we see again that there was always only God.
At the wild gate there aren’t any more religions because they were always only someone’s thought. The wild truth, the fabric of all reality, the Source of every instant, the Origin, all awareness holds me as close as a mother nursing her newborn. It saturates all existence with the fierceness that in the end there is only One.
Here is God, not limited by memorized words, not limited by any individual prophet or story.
Yes, all prophets, all scriptures and stories are God manifesting in ways that our minds can grasp. But beyond each thought, past every thoughtful understanding, the Source looms huge and kind, aware of this sparrow, that atom bomb, that galaxy, this emptiness, my sighs, your hope.
Beyond the wild gate, all existence is like Lego toys, small and plastic and put together by small fingers. Here, beyond the gate, the hugeness sways me kindly, a wind that bends the trees so they bow down.
Its wildness is what frightens people so, and that is good. No single being owns it or tames it. No prayer, no mind can make it obey. Its will is love, kindness, the open space of never limiting, never labeling, never condemning. The open space of cherishing. Not just the drunk and the liar. Also the sicko predator and the torturer and the bully and the monster at Auschwitz. That big. That strong.
It is caring and kindness and joy that I struggle to imagine. It is not forgiveness because that includes a judgment of badness. That’s how very wild it is.
It’s so huge that all it sees is the perfection of every single heart. It understands all pain because it feels pain with us. It knows smiles and all joy just as it knows all rage and confusion and viciousness. It knows that in secret, when no one is looking, you despair. But it also knows the pinprick of hope in the blackness—that dot of light, wider than the galaxy, closer than my hand in yours. Too big to be contained by any thought. So soft that it nestles just here, under my heart.
I am the opening itself. I am the Holy Spring. I call the world to God, which means joy. The Divine is everywhere, in every being, in every action and event—somehow. I have no idea how because I’m thinking about it with a mind limited by what I have been taught and what I think is true.
This is how I block miracles. This is what I do to stop healing. I think I know what’s going on. I think I know what is real.
Instead, what if I can learn to relax into what is, right now, this moment? Right now I love you. Right now I love them. Right now I am the old woman, the great-grandmother, who sees every child as delightful, who knows every human is worthy of unending love. I don’t even see the torturer because I know this man. I love him in his confusion and wrongheadedness, just as I love a baby who smacks me in the face a little too hard.
It’s not that I —tiny I—deserve anything good.
It’s that everyone deserves everything good because everyone, every human, every animal carries the Divine Spark.
I am the Holy Spring that bubbles just out of reach, whose trickling laughing voice calls the world to joy all the time. Not just on church mornings. Not just when the moon lights the forest. I call in the bitter fog and I call in the crazy, screaming confusion of terror.
I am the quality that eludes us all, the quality that we recognize right away as our true home. I am the possibility that always exists, the openness that welcomes every happening, every moment , every thought that is possible—and every thought that we have never imagined.
I am the opening to peace, to love, to kindness, to forgiveness, to healing, to joy.
The Holy Spring opens. It flows out of every one of my cells. It dances behind every one of my thoughts. It is the song that we all remember from before. On my deathbed I hear it again. I smile in relief and joy. I was never banished at all.
All of them are standing near me with their arms stretched towards me, grinning, singing, laughing. I have left behind all achievement and all suffering, all punishment, all concept of sin, all definition of right and wrong.
Instead there is this joy that thumps and bounds on every breath, that fills the air with a song more powerful than kettle drums. Louder than a thunderstorm, softer than my lover’s whisper, more tender than the song a mother sings to her baby as it dies in her arms.
This is the plumb line that runs though my life and yours. It is stronger than you can imagine. I can swing on it, I can hold onto it no matter what hurts me in this lifetime. It stretches through every cell of my body, it is a direction, a support that is different from old and new, it varies from before and after. It runs easily through dead and alive, born and died, like the sound of a waterfall that doesn’t care what’s happening in the dry plains below.
I cannot comprehend it. No one can name it because words are much too small to hold it. People try—God, Nature, Love, Allah, The Source, The Universe, All That Is, The Awareness—but in the end all I can do is grab a little corner and hold it close to my face, realizing that the truth itself stretches away from me into the entire galaxy, beyond the entity that we think is the universe itself.
And so I open my hand and let the corner float away. Yet it’s not lost to me. Trying to seize it always fails, but my core, the holy spring in me that starts every breath I draw, the holy spring that drips elixir into my mouth like a loving mother, the holy spring that drives my thoughts and my muscles and my instincts—that holy spring, closer than the pause between breaths, that holy spring is also the vast expanse of everything we know. Every thought that every human has had since time began, every instinct that drives every animal, every gust of wind, every wave on the ocean, every roiling cloud of gas on a star farther than our telescopes can reach— All in me and out there is the Source.
And this is what I worship. This is why I sing. This is why I am.
–by Jean Gendreau
[ A few months ago I began the practice of writing immediately following my morning meditation. This is the first piece to come out of that practice.]
copyright © 2016 by Jean E Gendreau