Tuesday, August 6, 2013
We The Endlessly
And only taciturn Death can know what we are
and how he must always profit when he lends us time.
- RM Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus, XXIV
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Do you believe it? Do you believe you are among the endlessly dared? It is a cold, sharp intake of air to consider - painful to have not seen it sooner - but its truth is evident in that soul-gasp, the birth-cry of your waking.
Take a minute. Look, you'll see it is true. I dare you. I triple-dog dare you.
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A hundred years ago I was told by a good and kind man, a monk, a Cistercian, that every moment of every day I was being called into my name, that I was being given opportunity after opportunity, a Fibonacci cascade of opportunities, dares to be who and what I was. Such was the nature of God's love. Moreover, I was not unique in this, but this was the way of all human life - to be called into the fullest expression of the life we had in our hands. It was always thus. It was always now.
I did not believe him. The disconnect between who I was in that moment and who I might yet be was too large a chasm to see across. No doubt my friend knew that, but he laid that marker down for me, passed along a portion of what he knew and for 100 years those words have rung in my head. Now they are yours.
Is this not the central challenge of our lives - to know our names, to be our name, to embrace the unique challenge of being in this time and this place with our one name, to love the fate of being named so?
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This whole thing, this ball of wax, this life we squander is a dare to find out what is there for us. The externals are the easy part, the obvious and present circumstance that can dictate so much of our lives. But the dare that lies at the heart of your experience is this: will you determine your thoughts, words and deeds, or will another? Will you choose how you will live, or will others? Will you take hold of your fate and wring all you can out of it, or will you succumb to the lie that says no one gets out of here alive, what's the point?
Orpheus is torn to shreds. His head and lyre, floating on open waters, still singing of his love for Eurydice. You needn't be a Greek myth to understand the completeness of such a story and how a story like that can inform and gird the life you have in your hands. Look, just look around you. The world you occupy is littered with clues, with opportunities for you to unfuck your life. Fear has twisted you into half a human living an awful half-life. The primal fear is our death, but what if we could see it differently? Instead of fearing the end (and so never daring to live in case we could extend our days not being fully alive), what if Rilke is right? What if it is Death, taciturn Death who lends us our time, sends us out into our lives to see what we do with it?
We, the endlessly dared - how far we have come!
Look at what you have accomplished while you have walked in your sleep! Now imagine your life fully awake. I dare you. Do you think love is without pain, or loss without gifts? Go test your ideas about life against life and allow yourself to be changed by the experience of life. The meaning of life is to experience it, to trace your highest thought, your deepest love in the experience of being your name. Anything that is not your highest thought, not your deepest love is the abnegation of the chance you've been given to find out what you can find out.
What does death matter when you have the chance, right now, in your very hands, to live?
My friend, Father Damien, would tell you God is calling you into your name. I will tell you he is daring you to be your name. Six of one. Half dozen of another. Call it what you will. Clothe it any way you like. If Orpheus still sings then you can, too.
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