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in the wilderness prepare the way

This Christmas season we have been celebrating the birth of God into the world, not only in history, but into our own lives, here and now, as “Christ in us, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27). This exquisite Divine Light is already born within each one of us, but we are mostly unaware and not easily convinced of this, as Thomas Merton wrote: “There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”

In his book “A Sunlit Absence”, Martin Laird wrote: “Remember St. Teresa’s insistence that the radiance of the sun is already risen and shining within us: ‘This fountainhead that shines like the sun from the center of the soul never loses its radiance. It is ever-present within the soul and nothing can diminish its beauty.’ Why then do we have such a convincing sense of living in obscurity? Because the ‘wild beasts,’ she says, of our wild thoughts make the soul ‘close her eyes to everything but them.'”

So part of our inner work is to recognise these wild beasts of our thoughts through the practice of awareness and gentle letting go. Martin Laird continues: “There is a direct link between our growth in watchful awareness and the gradual manifestation of the Light of Christ. … The more stable and expansive our awareness, the greater the suffusion of the awareness in Light.”

For me this links with the beautiful invitation in Isaiah 40:3-5 “A voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord ; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.  And the glory (radiance) of the Lord will be revealed’.

Working with this image on a recent retreat I realised that it is not my task to become radiant, but rather to let go and become empty, clearing the way of all that blocks the Radiance of God from shining through me from this Inner Source. As Martin Laird describes, “This gradual realization of the loving light of awareness is the simplest and most profound thing that can happen in our lives. … how do we grasp or capture in our sights what is already shining through our own eyes?”

May 2020 be a year where we continue to clear our inner wilderness of the rough ground and rugged places, opening ourselves to more of the possibility of the Divine Radiance shining out from within us into the world.

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