Outside ideas of right doing and wrong doing is a field.   I will meet you there.  -Rumi 

I recently started going to Quaker meeting with a friend and her son.  I was looking for a place to sit, for an anchor to my spiritual life, a starting point for Max’s spiritual journey that I could give to him as a gift.   So far, I have felt cradled by what I experience there at the meeting house.  I do not know if we will settle here forever but it is a beautiful spot to just rest and soak in some light.

We have had some very quiet meetings.  Where the very silence itself seems to be the spirtual message.  Where the joy of just sitting, together in the quiet of the dark winter day seems to be enough to fill the hearts of those who attend.  Where the silence is the light.  Yesterday when the silence was broken when an older friend started to sing an old old hymn about compassion I was moved to tears.  Her voice was so perfectly authentic.  It was a rock that having been so gently tossed sent ripples of joy out through the place where stillness had once brought peace.

I have recently been thinking so very much about living authentically.  Without trappings, without pretense.  I am finding that it is almost impossible to really talk about.  The very minute I start to utter words it seems that the very act of conversing about authenticity feels fake.    And yet, in the moments where it happens, the act of living authentically is the most freeing, most invigorating, most liberating feeling I have ever felt.   And  like the woman who presenced great joy with her song, I long to bring it here and word it.

But is there any way to do this in a way that doesn’t stand in opposition to you and your beliefs?  I have a young and very wise friend who said that he thinks that fear of being vulnerable creates much of the pain in this world.  I think truer words have never been spoken.  I think fear of being wrong creates a lot of pain too.  Can we talk about living authentically without raising those demons?  Can we talk about living authentically without getting into the notions of right and wrong? 

There are some who say that living authentically means living without color.  To be sparse in dress and speech.  To be simple.  There are others who would say that living authentically means existing in technicolor, to be creative expression embodied, to be life lived out loud at the top of one’s voice.  For others I suppose living authentically is about living honestly and fairly.  The beauty is I suppose that we each get to follow the path without prescription.  Is there any recipe for authenticity?  And is there any way to really understand beyond knowing it as it is birthed in your own heart?  In the wordless deep way that only your shining light self can see…How can you or I know if the man down the road is embracing his life braking open before him or running from the life he has always had?  How can any of us know except what is wordless in our own heart?

For me, choosing to live authentically means choosing to tear down the walls I once built between me and you, choosing to let go of the fears that keep me from being open.  It is choosing to let go of the things I do that keep me from experiencing what is in front of me, to embrace the things that are in front of me even if they break my heart and to let you see my broken heart even if you can’t fix it or don’t care.  For me living authentically means sometimes keeping my dreams tucked away for me and me alone to see, and sometimes keep my hurts there too–treasures to be revealed only when it serves us both to learn.  For me, living authentically means living into my love, breathing through my fear and not running away.   It means being honest but not hurtful.  Speaking reverently and knowing when to dwell in silence instead.  Keeping love at the center.  And getting up every time I fall down.   And letting go of the notion that I am ever right…or wrong…

It also means dancing my butt off, sneaking fudge from the fridge before dinner, knitting for hours and cheering like a mad woman for the Caps.  It means laughing at really bad jokes, no matter how uncool they are because they are just really silly.  It means having a second helping of chili because it is THAT good.  It means hugging the teenagers in my life even though I think it makes them squirm. 

It means all of this and yet none of this.  These are just words.   

Aren’t they just a substitute for telling you what it looks like when I live without thinking how to live…when I stop everything but my breath and the beating of my heart?   

I think living authentically is what happens when my baby girl self and my wise old woman have a tea party.  When I just giggle like mad and eat crumpets.  In the field…the magical field out beyond right and wrong.

Outside ideas of right doing and wrong doing is a field.  I will meet you there.-Rumi

3 Responses to “The Field”

  1. Trish Says:

    BEAUTIFUL. My favorite post yet.

    Trish

  2. angela Says:

    wow!

  3. Jen Ballantyne Says:

    Dearest Meg, I love this post, it reached out and touched me as so many of your posts do. This one is, once again, thoughts that ramble around in my head but you give them voice. You write divinely. Love you and will call soon my friend. Take care and know that my heart reaches out to yours daily even if my voice does not. Huge hugs and loads of love. xxx