I’ve been in a very deep inner dialogue with Life recently, soul-searching and heart-stretching, and while it’s difficult and vulnerable to put into words for you all, I’m still compelled to try.
Not long ago I noticed that I was walking around with what felt like a subtle wall in my own heart, like a self-imposed boundary or barricade against Life. I noticed this wall not only appearing in my relationships, but in a deeper and more general way, in my very relationship with Life itself.
An earnest curiosity arose within me as to what this subtle wall, this ever-present barricade was made of. So I carved out a night of prayer for myself, in which I could dive deliberately into this inquiry. I lit a candle and stated a simple and powerful intention: “May I meet whatever is standing in the way of my living as love in this lifetime.”
Soon, after dropping in to the core of this mysterious wall in my heart, I was suddenly overcome by an overpowering kundalini energy, moving like waves of burning fire up and down my spine. The supreme discomfort of this experience brought me face to face with a deep resistance within me. This sharp light whipping through my spine felt fierce and relentless. It felt out of my control and took my breath away with what felt like cruel intensity.
This experience went on for some time. I lay there, trying to calm my breath, my nervous system, both hands resting on my racing heart. I prayed to let go of fear, to open and surrender, welcoming trust. Really I was wishing for any way I might escape this immense phenomenal and spiritual challenge.
It was as though torture, torturer and tortured were all merged as one within me, and the physical pain and intensity combined with a searing spiritual heartache was almost unbearable. It felt counter-instinctual for me to not resist it.
Not unlike the darkest corridor of childbirth, I intuitively knew that the only way out of this phenomenal ordeal was through it; that I must somehow find a way to surrender, past my resistance, give in to the waves and open to what was deeper; open to whatever revelation must be yearning to emerge through the pain.
For brief moments the intensity would subside– such sweet relief– and then it would build again to a point where I was at the very edge of what I could stand. I found myself sobbing, begging for mercy, saying the words: “It’s just too much. It’s too much! Please, please. It’s just too much.”
At one point, by some grace, I suddenly overheard myself saying these words: “it’s just too much…” And as I heard this, deeply, the ferocity of the energy in my spine slowly came to a peaceful rest, and I saw, flashing before my mind’s eye, all the moments of my life that have brought me to my knees in an experience of “too much.”
Whenever I’ve felt pushed up against my own sanity, burdened by the emotional, financial, domestic and professional responsibilities of adulthood, of single parenthood, my primal experience has been one of “this is just too much.”
Whenever I’ve been deeply challenged in mothering young children, my nerves strained, exhausted by the constant juggling, or after weeks of our family moving through an intense illness, at the core I’ve felt, “this is truly way too much!” Remembering one year ago, the horrifying health ordeal that landed my sweet 9 year old daughter in the ICU for a week, or six years ago, at the epicenter of the darkest hour of my crumbling marriage; such common human angst invoking heart-wrenching experiences of “too much.”
My consciousness took me all the way back, to what I know was some of the deepest core wounding in this lifetime– when at 18 months old, having suddenly developed meningitis, I underwent several invasive and painful medical procedures as they tried to diagnose and treat my condition; my little arms and legs forcibly strapped down for numerous spinal taps, big needles entering my tiny lumbar spine. At the heart of that trauma was definitely an experience of way, way “too much”– complete overwhelm; a feeling of being betrayed by my own body, my humanity, by my loved ones, and by God.
As I perceived this deep pattern, I could suddenly see how my whole life I had been plagued, sometimes subtly, sometimes overtly, by this resistance to any version of “too much,” as it never failed to re-trigger such a deep, core place of feeling betrayed by Life. I could see the subtle wall in my heart with which I had been walking through my life was in fact a deep defense mechanism against the ever-present, looming possibility of “too much.”
And then I saw, parallel to the common experience of “too much,” exists the just-as-common experience of “not enough.” Often easily trackable back to some essential experience of scarcity early in life, this dreadful feeling of either having or being “not enough” can haunt us, affirmed by life again and again. Whether it’s about not enough money, food, or time; support, connection, or sex, again and again we are brought back to the question of whether life will ever bring us what we need? Could we ever truly BE enough? And how often this sub-conscious question leads to futile and dangerous attempts at filling this gaping hole of lack in a myriad of ultimately unfulfilling ways.
A light of revelation opened within me, as I considered: perhaps, depending on the quality of our initial wounding, we are plagued by either a continuous experience of life being “too much”, or of it being “not enough.” Or perhaps by some complex combination of the two– as in: too much stress, and not enough support; too much work, and not enough rest; too much responsibility and not enough freedom; too much pain, and not enough relief; too much grief, and not enough joy; too much loneliness, and not enough connection.
How interesting to see the ways in which our suffering on collective and global levels also follow these same frequencies, our hearts aching and breaking over all the tremendous lack and troubling excess in our world.
How do we manage the far-reaching implications of too much drought and not nearly enough rain? How do we make peace with the reality of too much harrowing disease and not nearly enough cure? How to remedy such a deep lack of unified global effort towards planetary evolution and healing, alongside the overwhelming hopelessness of excessive greed, hunger, violence, addiction, and ecological imbalance?
I could see how habitually I have kept God and Love out of these places of “too much” and “not enough.” I’ve been assuming, at some core, resistant place in my being, that clearly these are Godless, loveless places. These are the places where the mess is just the mess; the unfortunate fruits of personal and collective imbalance, disastrously manifest. And in this way I have habitually met these places of “too much” and “not enough” with fear, aversion, overwhelm and futility; at best with a gesture of despairing prayer.
I suddenly saw that in response to my prayer: “to meet whatever is standing in the way of my living as love in this lifetime”, what I was actually asking of myself in this truly challenging night, was to finally bring God all the way home to the aching heart of “too much” and “not enough” inside me, inside my very cells, my human nervous system, and inside our precious world. I was asking myself to get out of the way: to let Love fully and completely find it’s way home to these seemingly loveless places, too.
I could feel the invitation to really tell the truth and open to the reality that even in the most horrific and heart-wrenching experiences of “too much” and “not enough”– that which is found in human torture, at the core of devastating disease and tragic loss, in the wake of elemental disasters, at the heart of war, the countless deaths of innocent lives, the worst of the very worst– still, Love is here, God is here.
And in my own, little, personal, privileged life, when I am brought to my knees in overwhelm, in despair, in hopelessness, in painful yearning– God is here, Love is here.
Love is here, through it all, in it all. Can we open to this? Can we let it in? Can we know and directly experience this?
When we refuse to exclude anything from Love’s home, then we are simply left to bear, as Love, all that Love includes. In simultaneous surrender and prayers for mercy, we are left to bear both the vast, annihilating abyss of unknown, as well as the infinite forms of life’s horrific and beatific expression.
We get to bear all of it: all our flawed humanity, and all our spacious, holy wholeness; all our ignorant mistakes, and breathtakingly innocent clarity. We get to bear the grief and the joy, the terror and the bliss. And this IS LIFE, loveable in all it so ruthlessly and deliciously includes; just as we ourselves are truly and permanently loveable in all we include.
At the heart of too much, at the heart of not enough, Love bears it all, forever.
Love bears it all, for Love.