Tuesday, 27 October 2020

The Inner Landscape

In the course of my life I've moved around a lot. Like many people, I've often felt that I was looking for something. Like many people, I've had trouble figuring out just what that something was.


Where was I going, all this time? What was my destination? The answer isn't hard to find, if I'm being logical. All my paths through life have led me to where I am now; therefore this is where I was heading all along.



But being logical doesn't always come naturally to me.

I've tried to live lightly, with an open soul, loving what comes into my life rather than longing after what I don't yet have. But my heart catches on things. Almost inevitably, I am hooked by things, muddied by the paths I tread. Without even trying, I come in from the forest covered in burrs.



I've tried to live lightly, and at the same time I've tried to carry a light within me, a light that in my best moments illuminates and sustains me through all manner of storm and cloud.



Late at night, in the country dark and the country quiet, I can feel it within me, breathing my own breath, filling me with something more than myself and yet nearer and dearer than my own skin. By that light I can see, softly, as in a twilit mirror, a hidden landscape, similar to the one I walk in broad daylight, but more familiar, as though I'd been there many times while dreaming, or when I was very small.


All its contours are known to me, though I remember them only slowly, each moment of recognition a tiny thrill. Still they shine through, clearer and nearer, once remembered, than all the harsh, bright, busy confusion of the dream that we call life.

I have tried not to sleepwalk through this life. I have tried, at all times, to be aware of which world I am in. It is one world, layered more deeply than autumn leaves, and it has both an outer and an inner side to it.

On the inner side, I am who I need to be. I have come into this world with all things needful, and I know what I was set here to do and to be. In that inner landscape I am both king and vagabond, wise with the world's wisdom and content with a child's contentment.


I believe in this inner landscape, not as one believes in mighty principles or in things unseen, but as one believes in one's own skin: it hardly bears thinking of. And yet it is there, breathing my breath, tasting my sorrow and delight, grieving and rejoicing with me and nurturing the long, slow awakening of the best that is within me.



What is it, this life, this hope, this destination toward which I have been stumbling all my days? It is the fountain at the heart of the wood. It is the clear spring that flows down from the mountain of desire, and that quenches thirst. It is the light that streams out everywhere, and whose home is nowhere.


Tremendous things will happen in the outside world; people will move in strange ways, and be moved by tides greater and more powerful than any of us. Do not be dismayed, I tell myself. Remember where you were, those nights when a soft light illumined the inner darkness, and you breathed your own breath, quietly, and knew that you were equal to the task at hand. Remember the quiet rivers that flow through the soul, and the lights that come out only when the sky is dark.


I am going there. I'm going there, and I am here already. I've come so far. I have so much more exploring yet to do.

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