Game of Thrones fans will recognize this line, spoken to Jon Snow repeatedly by the wildling woman he fell in love with, and who died in his arms with these words on her lips.
The universe has conspired lately to remind me that, like Jon Snow, everything I think I know ... I don’t. No matter where I turn – to family, to friends old and new, to martial arts, to life in general – I am confronted by my absolute ignorance of, well, everything. It is disorienting and decidedly uncomfortable. Sometimes scary. At the same time, it is intriguing, exciting, and occasionally even fun.
It is, spiritually speaking, where the action is. Outside of my comfort zone, on the razor’s edge. It is where I see most clearly, if I’m willing to look, my habitual patterns, my stories, my insecurities and fear. It is where I’m given the opportunity to experience the raw beauty and fierce grace of reality, to taste the nectar of truth, to be stripped of all my defenses and emerge pure and powerful. If only for a moment....
It sounds sublime, and it is, but it is also messy, like diving beneath the lotus blossom to its roots in the muck. The muck is where the flower grows. And so it is with us. When we embrace all life offers, excluding nothing, seeing the sacred in every moment, no matter what, then our true nature grows rooted in the depths of darkness to bloom brilliant in the light.
The following poem was written a couple of years ago to support a friend going through a hard time. But today, it speaks to me to give me courage to step into the mystery.
The ground beneath our feet
That we think strong
Is but an icy crust
Lightning cracks race
Pop and thunder
We dare not move
It matters not
We will fall through into our destiny
And remember once again
That what dies
Was never real
And we are
On this new Thanksgiving day, it is so easy to take for granted that tomorrow will come – that another opportunity will be given to witness a sunrise, to spend a moment with those we love, to be astonished at the crystals in the newly fallen snow, to truly behold the majesty of the deer on our morning walk.
But another part of us knows it is so fragile here, so precarious, so outrageously precious and at times so heartbreaking, and that this opening into life will not be here for much longer. Recognizing this, let us give thanks on this new day by no longer postponing our time here, by not waiting any longer. By remembering what's most important to us and what it is that truly matters. By doing whatever we can to help others, by listening to them so that they feel felt, by holding them as we enter into the mystery together.
At the end of this life, it is unlikely we'll be asking if we accomplished all the tasks on our to-do lists, manifested all the things we dreamed we wanted, played it safe, perfected ourselves, spent more time at work, or achieved all our inner and outer goals.
In that moment, there may be only one burning question left: how well did I love?
Did I pause each day to behold the utter miracle of just one unfolding here and now moment? Was I willing to take a risk, to feel more, to care deeply about this life, to allow another to truly matter to me, and to allow myself to feel awe at what is here? Did I stay close with the untamed, unresolvable movement of sweet and fierce grace as it took form as the others in my life, and as the wisdom flow of imagination, emotion, and sensation as it surged out of the stars and into my experience? Was I willing to fall in love, to truly fall in love with this life, and equally participate in the breaking of this one wild heart?
Did I spend my time here wisely, wandering with my fellow travelers as a humble servant of the mystery, open to the parting of the veil and the revelation of the temple that this place truly is?
What is it that remains unlived… for you? And what will you give to know this? To break the trance of postponement, to once and for all end the spell of unworthiness, and the dream that there is some love coming tomorrow. To remember what is most important and to organize your life around that.
The bounty and the harvest of thanksgiving is upon you, always already here, the true Kingdom, erupting in the here and now as the cells and the beating of your very own heart.
I hope I make it all the way through this sweetest of ever thanksgiving days, but if for some reason I do not, this would have been enough. I have been given so much more than enough.