‒Father Thomas Keating
This statement that makes so much sense to me also leads me to ask myself: Am I letting the idea of acceptance lead me to fatalistic passivity? I can imagine that I am accepting "whatever is actually happening" when in reality I am putting my head in the sand. For instance, to live my questions, without jumping to conclusions creates a lot of tension. Similarly, bearing my own and other people's weaknesses without sugar coating or condemning them. Acceptance that still sees clearly is extremely rare and difficult.
So what is it like to pull my head out of the proverbial sand and fully face into reality, all the pain and confusion and unanswerable questions? Sometimes it feels overwhelming, I find that I can only do it for short periods of time. Which suggests that much of the time I am looking away, living in illusion. What does my acceptance amount to then, when I make myself invulnerable to life? (The grace and beauty that life promises is not fully available to us unless we are also exposed to its difficulty, they are one, intermingled creation. Think of Yellowstone, with beauty comes heat and cold, bugs and bears. Driving through in an air-conditioned car is not that same experience.)
The poet David Whyte speaks of exposing as much of our surface area as possible. It's a picture of being fully alive, undefended, every sense organ highly sensitized, both physical and emotional. It is only in this sort of vulnerable engagement that we discover creative solutions. When we stand aloof, protected, we are left with tired, conventional answers. Rules rather than inspiration. Or worse, habitual reactions.
Biblical wisdom suggests that we watch and wait for God's salvation. Which rarely takes the form of answers or relief of tension. How many examples of 40 days or 40 years or even 400 years before the chosen ones experienced the Lord's deliverance?
Nothing changes without contact. Insulation leads to isolation. We must know our neighbor to love our neighbor. We must hold unanswerable questions if we are to respond creatively. We must be willing to weep if we are to truly rejoice. We must accept our limitations if we want to experience God's strength in our weakness. But every one of these experiences makes us uncomfortable and so, quite naturally, we resist them. The question that I am trying to live is how do I open to these transforming experiences? How do I grow to tolerate the discomfort? I really want to know. There are probably a lot of answers to this rarely asked question.
The one thing I can say from my experience is that I need to slow down. I believe that hurry should be added to the list of deadly sins. Especially in our time when almost everything conspires to hurry us up to insensate speed. But as long as I am doing the next thing, including making plans for the future, and doing it slowly, mindfully, and in God's presence, I can tolerate uncertainty, fear, and other difficult emotions, they can even become a source of wisdom.