Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Finding What Was Lost

I am making my way back to God.

God is the first word I learned to point to the sacred Presence that was with me when I was a child. When I was young I could taste that Presence within and around me all of the time. I talked with this Presence, I lived inside that holy heart beat. Walking down school hallways, sitting in classrooms, crossing the frozen river on the way home in the darkness of a northern afternoon, I could hear the voice of what some call God and others call Love surround me. And when the frozen river heaved and cracked, ice buckling and rising, long fissures opening, I was not afraid. I knew the Beloved was with me there, like the cloud of ice crystals forming with every breath- warm moisture from one small self meeting and greeting the dark vastness of the atmosphere at forty degrees below zero.

Years later, I reached out and felt the soft breath of Spirit on my skin when purple welts rose from the place where my face hit the kitchen floor. The angry young man I’d married had thrown me across the room. Even then, I could pray and knew I was not abandoned.

What do we do when we pray? Surely we do not summon what has never left us, what lives within and around us.

Prayer is our way of coming into alignment with that which is always there, waking ourselves up to what has become hidden by distraction and preoccupation with things that will not last. Prayer can be a movement- a way of finding and following the rhythm we sense within all things. It can be a song, a phrase of music, a story or a poem. It can be tears or terror brought to the surface by heart break. It can be surrendering to or wrestling with the pain of heart ache. But it is always sending out a voice that signals a willingness to be found, a willingness to come into alignment with something more than our small worries about life and death.

I did not think I would ever move outside the possibility of prayer found with ease.

But I did.

For the last few years of my marriage, I would open my mouth and there would be no music with meaning, no words that held connection, no way to find the willingness. I was not, you understand, unwilling. I was just so deeply disconnected from my own awareness that I could find no way to cry out. Laying in bed, staring into the darkness I thought- perhaps, I am. . . . just. . . . done. I could hear my heart beat, but I wondered, was curious to know if I was dying.

Nothing anyone else has ever done could have rendered me unable to pray.

What I did- abandoning who I was in an attempt to pay for a love I thought had to be earned- is what made prayer feel impossible. I whittled away at who I was, cutting off little pieces- an ear lobe here, a pinkie there, my love of ideas and my intensity of being, the things he found “too much." Hoping to create, or to become someone the other one would want, I lost myself.

And even then, although I could no longer feel the Presence that was with me, it reached out and shook me awake.

My angels are old women with dark skin and long grey hair. Some have eyes of light. The eyes of others are bottomless pools of darkness that lead to inner worlds. They have come to me in my dreams for years. In that time of forsaking myself it took them a couple of years to get one clear message through the fog of my disorientation. When I finally heard them, I was startled.

“Get out of here now!” they whispered. “Wake up! Your house is on fire.”

And I awoke in a smoke-filled dream and finally moved to save my life.

I am making my way back to all I ever wanted with my whole being: God, the awareness that is awaring itself in all things. Back to the kiss I wanted with my whole life, the scent of what has always been home, the Sacred Mystery.

I am like someone who used to run and then had a terrible fall that disrupts messages between mind and muscle, like someone who has to learn all over again how to crawl and walk, how to balance upright, how to move one step at a time. I used to be someone who ran with ease, without thinking, simply for the pleasure of the wind on my skin, skimming along the ground lightly. Prayer was first nature to me and now, learning it again I see things I could not see when it came so naturally.

Moving deliberately, consciously one step at a time, I pray with my whole being- body-heart-mind-soul-self. And the holy song finds me in a way it could not before.

Sometimes we pray for ease, for things to move without struggle. Understandable really. But sometimes, it is the thing that is consciously sought and welcomed, the thing that demands a re-learning that is not easy that teaches us to rejoice, that opens us to a deeper gratitude.

What has been lost and found is savoured and appreciated more deeply.

I am making my way back to God with each breath.

And I am grateful.


  1. This is one of the most beautiful and evocative contemplations of prayer and self and their intersection I've ever read, and of great comfort to me.

    I adore your writing and learn much from it.

    All the best,


  2. Very powerful, and (as so often with what you write) I find the implicit challenge to myself to look as deeply, and see those parts that have been abandoned, those visions of self that can finally be let go. Thank you for this sharing.

  3. As I read this tears begin to flow down my face....and there is a feeling in my heart that is not quite recognizable. And it is only as I continue to read on do I begin to understand what is happening to me, what I am feeling, and it is two things simultaneously; it is connectivity with another who is where I am on the journey. And it is that there is someone out there who gets it. And even though we may be miles apart it makes my heart feel good to know that I am not alone. The joy is a first almost unrecognizable to me because it has been so long since I have felt it. I have been on my journey "back to God" for almost three years now. Like yourself I abandoned myself, and my relationship with God in search of a type of love that I have learned does not exist. It has only been within the last 6 months that I feel whole again, personally and professionally. I attribute all of the success to God. To him goes all the glory. Before this conscience derailment I was so bold as to say outloud that there was nothing that could come between me and my relationship with God! Looking back only now do I see the parallel with the saying that many of the builders and passengers had that: "THE TITANIC IS UNSINKABLE....NOT EVEN GOD HIMSELF COULD SINK HER" I found out that I was unsinkable....and when I sunk I sunk very deep and it was only hitting bottom did I realize that the reason I was there was because my relationship with God had been severed....not by him, but by myself. Personally and professionally the last three years of my life have been a nightmare. It was only my conscience decision to go into isolation and to go into spiritual surgery and recovery and healing and spiritual rehab am I finding myself in this beautiful place in life....back on track, back on the path that God intended for me to walk on....and to have absolute faith and trust in him and in his will for my life. I have once again handed over the controls to God...and now I am enjoying the feeling of flying in first class, with no worries or fears, because I know in my heart that God has taken over the controls and is back piloting my life and he is taking me higher and higher and flying me in a whole new direction, with a whole new destination......and for this I am deeply grateful!!! I pray that you have the same success with your journey back and that you find that place again where you "Dance in Beauty."


  4. Thank you for this. I just got done discussing with a friend over the weekend that I really didn't know how to pray anymore. I am learning to express myself in ways that are more in tune with who I am. I know when I express gratitude it is shown in the awe I feel when I am in nature, or being present & listening to someone when they are speaking to me, or enjoying the food that I am eating, trying to live each moment in the present, and so on. But prayer....I was kind of lost on that one. I did not know what it looked or sounded like. I know my old ways just didn't fit me anymore. Your post enlightened me to what prayer can be and I thank you for sharing that.

    I guess when I said I didn't know what prayer looked like, that was the prayer. I am glad your inspiration to share your thoughts on it answered my prayer.

  5. Thank you Oriah. Your spirit and heart are expressed so beautifully in your words, that touch my Soul. We are all finding what was lost, moment to moment, day by day in this life we have Helen x

  6. Oriah, you have managed to express something that it's clear many of us have experienced, yet few of us are really able or willing to talk much about. I very much relate to what you and also Chris have written here and I feel it's so very important that we are able to share these desert experiences with one another and know that it's always possible to find the way home again.

    Thank you for sharing

    Ps. (I have two ID's and am also Magdalene)

  7. You have not danced so badly my dear..............

    I honor your sharing.

  8. Curious, you posted this at 8:08 and by the time I read it there are 8 comments. 3 times number 8, aka "The Wheel of Life", with its patterns and models.
    I wondered if it is a pattern of yours, to disconnect from who you are 'in an attempt to pay for a love [you] thought had to be earned'.
    And if yes, if you feel that you have broken out of that mental prison.

    Thank you for sharing.
    You are so very beautiful.


  9. Dear Oriah, I find your words so comforting today. I don't know what to say. I wish I had words. But right now all I have is spirit and how mine resonates with yours this very moment. Thank you.

  10. Beautiful Divine Truth...
    I love the stories of the Nazarene that tell us how actively spirit is reaching out, searching for us when we have entered a state of seperation, yearning to be re-united, and how lovingly embraced we are when we find our way home. You bless us all with your honesty and commitment to your own hearts journey.
    Many blessings.

  11. Wish I could have written these exact words. Very powerful and captivating to the soul. Incredibly insightful into the ever present Spirit of God.

  12. Thank you for this post. It so affirms my own experience of seeking what I had lost. Grace----the magic of the mystery that never left me even in the deepest times of loss. it was Grace---with in me not out there, or in a therapist---grace the essence of my own being.

  13. Thank you

    I feel like these words could have been mine.. the familiarity. The connection and disconnection, only to reconnect again - the dance.

    Peace to all

  14. You know, tonight they were playing "What's Love Got To Do With It?" about Ike and Tina Turner. Ike Turner was a horrible horrible person. Eventually through studying Nichiren Shoshu and chanting Nam Yo Ho Renge Kyo and learning about cause and effect through her chanting, she was able to dump Ike. Where do people like Ike Turner, your ex and some of the jerks I knew get off treating other people that way?