My Guru Knocked
When I was a 9th grader, my English teacher surprised me one day by praising my composition i front of the entire class. His comments then lit a spark in me. His encouraging words stoked my fire - a flame that has never been extinguished in over a half century.
Before Dr. Fries' compliment, I had never known I had any talent or even recognized a passion for written expression. I was simply following the assignments. No adult had ever praised my writing. While I loved to read in my preteen years, reading was rarely encouraged. I was not yet a voracious reader and learner. There always seemed to be an endless list of chores so a reading hour or two was rare. For me praying for rainy days was rarely about quenching the dry, parched sweet corn or the lima bean fields. Inclement weather feed my thirsty curiosity.
I had not written much before high school. I had grown up, after all, in a chicken farming and waterfront community - a culture where writing wasn't too sought-after. To make matters more challenging for my first 10 years, I was pretty shy and quiet. Uncomfortable speaking within my family, I rarely asked for what I needed. I did not know what that was. But that all began to change when I left home, attended prep school and college. Those eight years whet my appetite, fed my soul, sparked my enthusiasm and opened doors. Like a kid let loose in a candy store, I suddenly tasted so many sweets, I was always hungry for more.
Ever since I sailed across the Atlantic back in 1976 and then subsequently hitchhiked for two weeks alone throughout northern Europe, I kept a journal. Thoughts, ideas, words, concepts, questions and feelings dominated my inner life and recording them somehow seemed powerful. It wasn't recording the events or the facts that was my bent; it was more than telling a story well. I was a life observer, noticing details and associations and then developing my own voice. My goal was to share some life insight and significance.
Writing never felt like a labor of love because it always came so naturally for me. I felt passionate about expression, exploration and communication. As I reread some of my older writings, I have reveled in how I have changed - not coming from any egotistical or pride perspective, but observing how my writing style and depth have grown as I have. While II sometimes don't recognize the writer I was 20-40 years ago. But what I notice the most was who I was and who I am. Almost as if THEN and NOW would not know each other.
As I reread some of my journals from my post college years, this becomes almost shock and awe. Shock for how innocent and ignorant I once was as a writer and awe for how my voice and themes have grown as have my insights and questions. As I read over my past thoughts, feelings and impressions, I can detect many of answers I was looking for hidden within my writings.
Recently I asked an acquaintance where he started his Bible study and his response was "Genesis, and when I am finished reading, I'll go back to the beginning." This was what I had been doing - going back to my beginnings. It did not mean I would be writing like a child, but thinking and imagining openly and innocently - without being restricted by adult rules, guidelines or approval. Restarting my beginner's mind - rereading, revisiting and re-editing my past writings from a totally fresh perspective. This effort would mean my letting go of conditioning, shedding some habits to allow a stronger light through.
Then following story wrote itself...
Just a short while ago he knocked on my front door. His knuckles wrapped the wooded frame. He mentioned he had been there awhile..waiting to see if I would let him in. Said he had already knocked many times before. Said he knew I was home, knew why I wouldn't answer and open up.
Could it be I had not heard his knock? Maybe I had heard him, maybe not. Maybe I did not want to hear him. Maybe I didn't truly listen. Could it be I heard but hadn't been prepared to answer? I wasn't ready? How rude! When does one not answer one's own door? Does one really have to be prepared to answer a knock? Was I so scared of something? Maybe I just wasn't ready to invite him in yet!
Locks have never seemed necessary to me. Like walls, they lock out as much as they shut in. So locks never make me feel more secure. And I thought I had nothing to hide. Then thought this knocker might just walk in without an invite. I had wanted to open it for him before, but my closed heart didn't let him in...didn't let me out.
But finally this day's time-ticking felt somehow different. Like I was somehow ready to receive my present enough to open a front door.... But as I thought myself ready, I realized in answering, I was opened myself as well. Timing helped remove my outer locks and inner fears. Like a shadow boxer, I had taken off all my kid gloves. I had strpped away excuses as stepped into the ring and answered the opening bell...finally sharp and strong enough to take on all knockers. Ready or not, here I come...not only to be, but be light outside and inside of me. I was lights outside myself; now was time to turn on the front light and greet my guest.
Without another moment's hesitation, I stepped out into the ring, finally opening my front door, finally inviting my sparring partner back into my ring. As he stepped inside, his wry smile, wink and knowing nod welcomed me. As if he recognized our place and time, he knew my hesitation. Almost as if he replaced time with understanding, I felt weak-kneed in front of him.
"What kept you so long?" I asked.
"What kept you so long", he answered.
He said he'd been outside and inside my many homes all along. I asked him why he hadn't knocked or let himself in. He said he had, but I didn't hear or see him at the door.
Couldn't hear it? Maybe I thought being alone was my calling.
He told me "you probably weren't ready to receive any callers." He said he had been patient with me. He had been waiting for me all along the way. ...all along my way. "In your own way and day", he explained.
All this time I had mistakenly believed I been waiting for his arrival. Somehow exprecting he might just walk through the front door any minute. As if he would invite himself to my birthday party. But It was he who had been waiting for me and on me.
He told me "Maybe it was because you weren't aware who was waiting on your affront porch."
I could now see him so clearly before my eye that took me so long! Did I need a lifetime to chin wag to understand my long lost friend?
I finally believed / recognized my good fortune so I asked him to stay over, to accompany me from now on....to the end. And when he replied "yes" to come live with me, I realized I'm becoming myself again. He had readily accepted, but he informed me he had already had been living inside my head. It was I he said that that didn't see him within.
At first aghast he hadn't made himself so known before, now I am being told he was there all along. How could I have not seen him in my house if he had been there all from the beginning? Wasn't it up to me to invite him in? Was I not paying attention? Asleep in my own abode? Did I have it all backwards.... thinking he would invite himself? What was I thinking? After all, aren't accepting invitations agreed by mutual consent?
He moved past the threshold in an instant without any baggage. Said he wouldn't be any trouble nor take up any space. Though he carried himself well, he carried some confrontation with him. He was no stranger to adversity. He was its face, maybe even its poster child, for he lived in my being, heart and soul. He said he rarely slept and said he and I would together look after things from here on out. It was obvious he was incredibly comfortable almost as if he were home. I could have sworn he'd been living beside me before. Then it dawned on me that he lived within and without me for way too long.
Then I realized I had not truly and truthfully invited myself to my own part of life. I had always left my true self behind uninvited. No one else had ever invited me to stay; it was up to me to be there - to invite myself. I hadn't felt invited because I had been excluded. But the reality was I had not invited myself. I had married and divorced ideas
It was mine that I had not owned. It was my mind that I had not atoned. I had been giving good advice to others while I had yet to learn how to heed it myself. All of a sudden the messages rang the doorbell. The chimes of time sang a song "Its about time!"
And when I opened my door, it was my calling out and coming in from my cold. I had finally answered my own door bell. was finally able to hear my own heart's knocking.
Somehow the spirit of clarity, the shining star, the grand eluminator, the brilliant bulb, knocked me for a loop so I could finally answer the bell this final round. I only had to dig down deep to share that part of myself - the part I had left uninvited. Now my vision has cleared and invited myself back inside - off the front porch, across my threshold into being the best I can be.
BTW - "guru" means light out of darkness!