Some friends of mine are going through “disturbances” in their spiritual journeys, trying to reconcile and integrate experiences that don’t fit neatly into one religious “box.” One friend has had a very real experience of the Presence of Jesus and Mary, and now she is unsure if she can continue with her spiritual practices from another tradition, practices she has found very meaningful for many years.
Another friend, EarthMystic, has written about his journey at his weblog
: “I pray like a Catholic. I think like a(n agnostic) Unitarian. I do myth like a Druid. And, I hope, I will soon be able to say, I meditate like a Buddhist. Now, it’s just a matter of integrating it all so my head doesn't explode.”
As a Christian who is also a member of a universalist Sufi order
, I've come to see Jesus the Healer (who is a very real Presence in my life) as the Divine Beloved that the Sufi mystics sing about. Rumi, the most well-known of Sufi mystics, has several wonderful poems about Jesus. Here is my favorite, in Coleman Barks’ version
(I’ve posted this one here before):I called through your door,
“The mystics are gatheringin the street. Come out!”
“Leave me alone.I'm sick.”
“I don’t care if you're dead!Jesus is here, and he wantsto resurrect somebody!”
There have been different times in my life when I have really felt a connection to one spiritual practice or another, and other times when I haven't felt a connection at all. Sometimes a Buddhist practice or chant has been extremely helpful to me, at other times the same practice might seem hollow. I think it's important to honor where the Spirit is leading us in the present moment – even if that leading takes us into areas of discomfort or disturbance.
In fact, that feeling of “being disturbed” is something we can expect on the spiritual journey, according to the words of Jesus in The Gospel of Thomas
(verse 2):Whoever searches
must continue to search
until they find.
When they find,
they will be disturbed;
and being disturbed, they will marvel
and will reign over All.
In his commentary on this verse, Jean-Yves Leloup
outlines the stages of the journey that Jesus talks about in this verse:
3. Being Troubled or Upset
4. Marveling (Wonder and Awe)
5. Reigning Over All (“I am One with that which reigns over All”)
6. In Repose
In the Greek manuscript fragment of Thomas, which was found in Egypt in 1898 before the complete manuscript (in Coptic) was found in 1945, the “reign over the All” is further described as “the great Repose.” That reminds me of verse 50 of Thomas, which ends:If they ask you what is the sign of the Father in you, say: It is movement and it is repose.
The spiritual journey is a cycle: movement (seeking), finding, being disturbed, being awed, experiencing Oneness (however fleeting!), being in repose.
And then it starts all over again.