It happened again recently and while it is not frequent, it is also not unusual. I’m at a yearly meeting and a woman comes up to me. She says that in the past few days she realizes that when ever she is standing near me that her neuropathy stops hurting. She laughs and says that since she can’t take me home that I will just have to give her extra to last as long as possible. We both laugh and I give her a long hug while humming a deep bass line perhaps like a very old refrigerator or maybe a dump truck pretending that I was delivering the extra requested. We laugh again. She says thank you and I say it’s my pleasure or it’s my honor.
In this simple exchange a few givens are acknowledged. She feels less pain when near me and we both know this is neither talent nor technique but a spiritual gift that comes through me. I have some responsibility, but ultimately I’m a mere tube some Light is coming through. I have the task of being a good tube. And this includes acknowledging that this gift is not from me. It is not mine, but rather a blessing with origins beyond me. And, like much of spiritual life, beyond words of simple description. It is my lot in life to learn and use and be faithful to this gift.
Some people will hear just that much and conclude relentless ego or he thinks he’s divine. Others will say it’s illusion, imagination, or simply bizarre- beyond their own deep spiritual experience. Part of what will be missed with such dismissals is that I understand the hard work involved in the discipline of such a gift and that I am not important in the transaction, by which I mean the great thing here is the Light itself of which we are all aspects. But I am as separate from that Light as anyone, even as I work to learn more.
Likewise a number of disciplines in the work are not understood. The first being solitude. The intimacy and intensity of having another’s pain pass through you is common among doctors, therapists, clergy and other crisis workers. Solitude to recover and refresh from the work is a common tool. For me it means I need to rest away from others, even during a conference. This can appear to some as a prima Dona taking oneself too seriously. But without an office or office hours how else does one stop work? Once I am up and out in whatever village I am working in, I’m on. I don’t stay in the village and say no to all work. Saying no is work too. Rather, I live and rest at the edge of the village and come into the center when it’s time to work. It’s the living at the edge and it’s imperative that is even less understood by others than the gift itself. The disciplines of opening, closing, washing, and resting I am still learning after all this time. Once grace withdraws, it is only me trying to do my best as just another person, as lost and found as any.