I beg you… to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
I have had some unresolved questions in the last few years. About my career, about life, my family, mortality. About God, God’s absence and all the angels, saints and sinners who have been a part of my story thus far. There was a suffocating, layering on of questions. A calcification of disillusion set in place by years of doubt and exhaustion from searching for answers. It has been a dark night of the soul. I know. You hear that all the time. It was once a “cool” thing to say, a spiritual rite of passage, per se. However, I can’t help but wonder if it suffers from over-use. Like a song you’ve heard one too many times. “Never mind, I’ll find someone like you”.* Never mind, I can’t find a better phrase.
When you face a succession of loss or doubt or betrayal, sometimes it is one too many hits. You can find yourself in a place you never imagined. A place where you just want everything to stop, but since it won’t – you will. You fold your arms stubbornly and say, “Enough!” because it has been burying you and you won’t have any more of it. Because you think, mistakenly, you can control it this way.
This is what happened to me. A succession of challenges I couldn’t predict knocked the wind out of me. A chain of events so relentless, I could barely recover from one before the next wave pushed me to the ground. That is truly when I crossed my arms and said, “Screw it! I’m staying right here, thank you”. I fully surrendered to a certain kind of inertia. A body at rest stays that way, so goes the laws of physics.
Don’t get me wrong. There are times when this is not all bad. There are times when stopping is absolutely essential. In fact, I cancelled my 2014 spring tour and travelled to New Zealand with my husband Joe to celebrate our 25-year wedding anniversary. This decision recognized my frantic pace, the illness I was bringing on my body and said, “Take a break already!” That kind of sabbatical is not what I am referring to here.
The events leading up to Stone Bright Solid – Volume I shaped the tone of that EP. Though I struggled to get it done, I kept motoring on through a project about the dark night when I was in the thick of it. Kept singing when I didn’t believe in it. I even did a music video. I am still amazed that so much beauty came from that time. Then again, I’m not. I was doing something. I was moving. In moving, I allowed myself to become part of its holy inertia.
And then I stopped. In stopping, I thought I’d be safe. Such a sly devil, this lie, and an easy one to fall prey to! One that promises nothing new and then delivers exactly that. One that robs you of the opportunity to emerge from the shadows into the light of redemption.
The thing is, I don’t buy the lie anymore. I don’t buy it because I’ve seen into its sad, lonely heart. An organ more fatigued from disuse than use. A muscle designed to pump creative blood through an active body.
Writing and music, poetry and painting – these are my lifeblood. Everything else is quite simply and profoundly the framework it runs through. The flesh of the Divine on the bones of the world. And in order to be alive, it has got to be of one mind, one body. In order to grow, it has got to move. In order to be redeemed, it has got to believe.
So I’m moving forward again with renewed hope and some amount of redemption. Even though at times, if I am to be totally honest, I still feel like bolting to New Zealand to take up the life of a tramper. Spend all my free time running and hiking the South Island with its inexhaustible trails and fathomless beauty. That’s so tempting.
But that is no life at all. That is escape. At least for me, right now.
Where have I been hiding? The truth is – there is nowhere to hide. The only meaningful solution is to live the questions. As for the answers? I can only hope that by the time I’m aware of them, we’ll have been old friends.
Food for thought: What questions do you need to live? What answers do you need to let go of?
*From Adele’s “Someone Like You” – on the off chance that you haven’t lived on planet earth these past few years. (My husband Joe, apparently.)