Sometimes, when we are forced into something and feel imprisoned by a coldly impersonal, external force, we may burn up in rage at it or go into depression. And yet sometimes, just sometimes if we are fortunate, the experience of being compelled liberates us into new and surprising views of reality. We encounter something unexpected, a hidden grace that could not otherwise have been able to find us.
As in meditation, there are times when we sit in a desert, dry and endlessly distracted by our anxieties or losses. An empty desolation stretches as far as we can feel in every direction. Better, we think, to do something useful or self-indulgent. The solitude is not the open space in which we feel connected to a greater whole but aloneness, constriction, abandonment or the feeling of being forgotten. The spectre of affliction haunts our soul.
Then from an inner point, without location, an invisible ray of light touches and restores our shriveled soul to life and hope. Not that all our wishes are fulfilled, in fact none of them may be, and the pain or loss may still be only too present. But a joy emerges that opens a pathway to the source of being, our being.
After meditation: “Winter Solstice” by M. Bartley Seigel, posted on Instagram 12.21.2021 by Prof. Seigel, Michigan Tech University, Houghton, MI.
As the fires of the world burn to ash
& shadow, all the light would seem to fade.
Even the wind has died. Snow piles up.
In the deepening wood, crow is silent.
In the depths of the lake, water lynx is still.
But we are constellation, aurora—
won’t you come in to help tender the flame,
softly sing with us a turning Eastward?