I’m sitting here contemplating the meaning of life. It’s been said that there is no rhyme or reason to this crazy thing we call life, but like most reeling minds, mine too craves a theory. The age old cliche that says, “Life’s a journey, not a destination,” is how I make sense of it all. It all begins on a journey to the center of ourselves.
We all begin life at the core of ourselves, and at this core we stand completely open. We are completely exposed, completely honest, completely vulnerable, completely ourselves, completely okay, and completely safe. We are completely loved. We are the mirror of love itself. And then…..then life begins to deceive us and lure us away. We look out beyond ourselves, and we see these illusions and hear these voices that tell us that we are not okay, that make us ashamed of our openness and exposition, that tell us that our core is not our home. And here is where our journey begins. Ironically, it is also where it will end, but this final chapter is nothing we should fear because an ending is also just an illusion. We will make this trip to and from our core many times in our lifetime, each time bringing back home to ourselves the treasures of more awareness of our own worth and beauty and a richer and more keen awareness and connection to God himself. We are returning to love. The journey is arduous and messy, but it is also so worth it. I can’t say that any trip is easier or harder or longer or shorter than the one that precedes, but each one is unique in what it teaches and what we learn and what gifts we bring back home to ourselves and eventually to others.
It usually begins with us buying into the lie and illusion that we ourselves are the center and that we are in control, and we try to manipulate our environment, our situations, our circumstances, and people in our lives to orbit around us in such a way to suit our wants and our ideas of how things should be. We strive and struggle in the pursuit of heading out away from our open core towards these illusions. These illusions become our destinations, and we travel further and further from our home. We reach our destinations only to find that none of them bring what they eluded. Disappointed and frustrated we continue our journey, and we follow the next illusion expecting it t somehow be different. We continue this process until we realize that we are standing upon layers and layers of pieces that we don’t recognize anymore, and eventually we find that these layers have overflowed and have emptied us outside of ourselves into a tumultuous sea where we feel as though we are lost and drowning.
Far in the distance we spot an island, and somehow by the grace of God we make it to this island. Exhausted, out of breath, and shaking, we manage to climb upon the land. As we gain our composure and catch our breath, we begin to cry out. We ask, “Why?” We don’t know how to get back home anymore. We have traveled so far away that nothing is familiar. We lay there paralyzed by the confusion. We close our eyes and pray it’s all just a bad dream. We pray to just disappear. We begin to wish we had drowned in the sea and contemplate jumping back in. We decide to just lay there, still, with eyes closed, and just rest. Then we hear a voice. It’s a voice that is familiar, but we have heard and followed so many voices that we are afraid, and we don’t know what’s real and what isn’t anymore. The voice tells us to open our eyes and get up. We do, and we see. We see that some of the pieces that make up this island look familiar. We realize that these are pieces of those layers that emptied us into that dangerous sea that nearly took our life. We look out onto the sea and see other faces that seem to be in the same distress we have been in. We call to them. We help them see this island, and when they reach it, we help them onto it.
We begin to realize that those familiar pieces that emptied us out and carried us away are the same pieces that will lead us and others back home. We realize we must face those pieces. Courageously, we do, and we find that when we face them and are not afraid that they lead us back to the opening that will carry us home. When we reach the opening though, we find it blocked. It is blocked by more layers. We know how deep the layers run, and we wonder if it is possible to ever reach the core again. We begin doubting again. We begin to fear that we have forever lost our way. Then we hear the familiar voice again, the one that told us to get up and open our eyes. We hear the voice say, “Nothing is impossible. I will guide you. I will tell you what to do. I will never forsake you.” Although it is a daunting task, with help from the others in distress that we helped onto the island and God’s guidance, we peel back all the layers one at a time, examining each one without fear, then discard them, which we see is adding to the circumference of the island. We can see that through our own courageous journey back home, we are creating a refuge for others to find their own way back home. Those pieces we thought destroyed us are now being transformed into pieces of hope for others. After years of hard work, we finally reach our destination. Only this time it’s different. We see that now we are overflowing, but not into a tumultuous sea to drown. We are overflowing in peace and love, and we feel okay and safe once again. We have made our way back home. We have made the journey to the center of ourselves, to our core, to God. We see, too, that we have others with us now, and we realize that we are all the same at the core. We are all one. Although our illusions dress up in different disguises, they are illusions nonetheless, and although we begin and end our many trips at different times and have different experiences, we are all traveling together,and we are all always just trying to make our way back to the same core.
I don’t know what life holds for any of us or what circumstances that my befall to inspire another trip, another journey, but may we always venture with the awareness of who we really are, and may we venture purely, without leaving behind so many layers. May we pave a new way, one that always allows us to return easily bringing others with us. I do know after several trips of my own away from and back to my own core that with each journey away I realize that I go now for different reasons. Sometimes I suppose we will always those voices that tell us those lies and show us the disguises, but we become aware that they are just that…..lies. We have been awakened to the fact that we always have a choice. We always can decide the reason we venture. Do we go to follow our own selfish desires or do we go to spread truth and light for others? I also realize that no matter how far I venture, home is always right there with me. There is never really a destination, except to keep returning to your core, to God, and that can be done no matter where you are in life. It’s more of a lifestyle than an arriving. We never arrive. There is always work, upkeep, learning, and teaching to be done. In a way, I guess you can say that we are always already at our destination. The problem is we forget. We only have to remember. That is our true work…..in the midst of a world filled with lies and illusions telling us that we are not enough at our bare exposed core….to do the work it takes to empty ourselves of all the layers we have added thinking it will somehow make us better and allow the love we find there at our core to overflow out of our lives and carry it with us on each of our journeys to extend our newfound truths to others along the way. Life really is a journey. Not a destination.