Welcome to 99 – a weekly spiritual journey. I’m Andrew Chirch
Each episode is like one step on a pilgrimage – and I’m so glad you’re here for this step.
Over the next 9 minutes or so, I invite you to slow down and invest in YOU.
Whether this is your first time listening, or you join each week, I’m here with this offering – part invitation, part gentle challenge for you to learn more about yourself.
To get started, let’s take a minute to fully arrive. Here. Now.
I’m going to invite to take 2 breaths together with me so we can both settle into this experience.
From way down in your belly, let’s inhale for a count of 4, hold for 3, then exhale for 7. Ready?
Inhale 2 3 4
Hold 2 3
Exhale 2 3 4 5 6 7
Have you ever had a moment when you were just “in the zone?” You were unstoppable on the athletic field or the dance floor or at your job. Some people talk about moments where – in a good way – time seemed to go into slow-motion. They could see the whole field and everythign in it. They could anticipate what was going to happen and when, and knew exactly what they needed to do next.
These are moments of what I call greatness…. little glimpses because at least for me, they never last.
But what if they did?
Today’s topic comes from the sufi tradition and means the incomparably great. I want to talk about how this resides in you – in each of us, always.
Last week, we talked about being on the path or remembering that we are always on a journey and to never stop seeking.
Well, I was really pulled in by this week’s parallel. I want to share a quote by Muhammed Iqbal, the 19th century Sufi poet:
I wandered in the pursuit of my own self.
I was the traveler
and I am the destination.
My friend, whatever you are on a journey in search of, YOU are the destination.
Take some time this week to ask yourself what you need…. like what do you REALLY need?
I spent time interviewing a volunteer who works with prison inmates – big, bad, hard people who keep themselves feeling safe by pretending to be superhuman. She said: “Do you know what surprised me the most about those men?” … once they felt safe enough to share what was really in their heart… it was like there was a 2-year-old little boy inside them that just wanted their mom. They just wanted their mama to love them and tell them they were worthy of love.
What’s in your heart? Maybe now isn’t the time… and that’s okay.
In the Quaker tradition, they talk about getting quiet… learning to listen for the still, small voice within us… If you don’t exactly know what you need, the still, small voice does.
Whatever it is that you’re in search of… wherever your journey takes you, whether your friends and lovers stay with you or leave…. you already have the answers you’re in search of.
This idea of greatness is all-encompassing. There is no quality you can imagine that does not already live in you… in us. Oh we may spend a lifetime searching for it… and we may never find it, but it’s there. How do I know?
Because of those glimpses… maybe that one moment in my life where I wasn’t afraid, or the one time that I had clarity and knew exactly what to do and could act as if nothing else mattered. Superhuman strength and access to the things you never knew you had access to.
Greatness, my friend.
The secret, for me, is learning to access it.
I know people who have… you probably recognize them… the masters of their field… when they walk into a room with you, you can feel their presence. It’s not about puffed up arrogance, or a need to be better than others. They simply have learned how to access the greatness inside.
Sages talk about the strength that comes from this kind of knowing oneself. Not the kind of strength that’s brittle and hard. Even the mightiest Oak can be destroyed by the force of a hurricane, but the willow… the willow isn’t worried about looking strong… it’s comfortable living in the muck of the lowest places. The willow isn’t upset by the hurricane, because it’s willing to be pliable… bent flat by the wind one minute, then rising and I imagine laughing at its own ruffled hair when the storm passes.
Be the mighty oak or be the supple willow… each has greatness within it.
As you encounter those people who are your own personal hurricane – the people who gall you and irritate you, remember… you are in everything – and everything is in you. Act with love, because you are someone’s hurricane too. The reason others affect us so strongly is because they remind us of the part of ourselves we cannot find a way to love.
Greatness – the infinite – is in you… even in the murkiest of places. Remember that the treasure you seek is always with you. The greatest gift of all is in recognizing that treasure…. and in being a mirror so that others might wake up to the same thing.
Go, spend time in the swamp inside yourself – with the willows and notice the greatness there. Or sometimes your grove of mighty oaks is easier to find.
Either way, remember that EVERYTHING you need is already with you.
Now we’ll finish today’s journey by taking 2 more breaths together.
We’ll breathe in for 7, hold for 3, exhale for 4.
Inhale 2 3 4 5 6 7
Hold 2 3
Exhale 2 3 4
Inhale 2 3 4 5 6 7
Hold 2 3
Exhale 2 3 4
Go out into the world in peace and have courage
Hold on to what is good.
Return to no person evil for evil.
Strengthen the fainthearted
Support the weak.
Help the suffering.
Honor all beings – including yourself.