by Neale Lundgren, PhD
Seeking a soulful retreat, my wife and I made a trek from our home in Atlanta, Georgia to Abiquiu, New Mexico, to a monastery called Christ in the Desert. We spent a weekend in the abbey’s guesthouse, which included eating and praying with the monks in the isolated canyon.
On our last morning, I rose early from sleep and walked to the monastery refectory to take breakfast in silence with the monks before prayer. As the sunlight poured into the chapel windows overlooking the mesa, I savored the moments of song and intermittent silence with these monks. After they filed out of their stalls, and one-by-one departed to convene their daily chores, I sat there alone.
I had brought questions to the desert and had yet to receive any clear answer. What am I to do with my life now? Should I continue to deepen my meditation? Should I continue to help others on the path of mindfulness in the midst of the world? Have I accomplished anything of real value? No answer came.
But, just as I was about to rise from my seat, I heard that familiar voice from deep within say to me, “All that matters, is love.” But I know this, I answered. Tell me more. The voice uttered, “You must take time out every day to further awaken to love’s mystery until love’s song reverberates throughout your being in everything that you do.”
As my wife and I made our way back to the world by car on the winding road of the canyon, there was a pervasive and strong aura of silence. We hardly spoke a word until we arrived at the highway. Then slowly, the silence was filled by the sounds of other cars and trucks whizzing by. I accepted into myself the roar of the engines rushing along that endless ribbon of road. I thought to myself, these automobiles, swiftly appearing and disappearing out of sight, are carrying souls headed to places of learning whatever lessons they are meant to learn in this life.
All of us are here to accept the curriculum of our soul. We have come into the world to take different classes, but always with the same lessons presented to us. Every time we come to this world we enter the great classroom of love. We are here to grow in loving awareness, that everything and everyone is a mirror of our own striving toward becoming Love, becoming an intimate thread within that Great Web of Love that connects us all.
Meditation is one of the principal means by which we learn that we are only separate from ourselves and one another from the perspective of our material mind. Our soul mind knows better and loves better because it lives closer to our heart than our brain. In fact, our soul’s job is to integrate and unify what is fragmented within ourselves and to heal all that divides us from one another. What the vigilant brain seeks to oppose, the awakened mind and heart seek to connect, whenever guided by the constant burning light of the soul.
On this long journey of ours to enlightenment, where to begin? We can start with what we can love, and to work on expanding the horizon of our mind and our heart’s threads of connectivity. We can search out and visit places, whether in the midst of our cities or in nature that will refresh our soul. With this positive energy we can fuel ourselves and give to others who are also in need of it. So, what now? What lays in wait for us all? Surely, not the darkness of fear, but rather, the moment-by-moment enlightenment of continual awakening, awakening to Love in all of its many and marvelous forms.