‘The rose and the cabbage unfold together within Quaker life.’
During the recent curtailments of daily life I have been grappling with a difficulty that has been nagging at me for some time. In early life I realised that I could be swept along by a tsunami of religious awareness, and that this could affect my life choices. I was unconvinced that being swept along in this way would bring me happiness. So, while I half-admired those who allowed themselves to be swept, I stubbornly refused to go with them. I wanted to experience the fullness of life, some of which would be denied me, or made difficult, if religious discipline – holiness – was to dominate my life. I was not a bad person, I merely followed my own hunches while trying to live in a way that allowed human love to grow. I did my best, in the world as it is, not to harm others. I felt that commitment to a totally spirit-led life would be like falling over a waterfall and losing aspects of myself. I thought I could probably work out what love required of me intellectually, without submitting to an unknown. I wanted to be free to choose my Teacher when I was ready, but did not think about how to recognise readiness. That is why my analogy for spiritual development is not a journey but an unfolding – sometimes like a cabbage, worthy and dutiful; sometimes like a rose, fragrant and beautiful. Ready or not.
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