I'm feeling a little lost lately. Like I'm energized by divergent bursts of creative urgency, with no single project claiming dibs on my attention. I'm certain that given enough care and devotion, any one of my pursuits could lead to fulfilling fruition…if only I could commit to just one. Devoting myself more fully to one of my passions means letting go of others. And letting go is… letting go.
As I sit on the sand watching the tide recede in Chatham harbor, and beyond that, the bleached white shoreline of Monomoy Island, I'm desperate for clarity. Until recently, words flowed abundantly about the parallels between the mystic journey and the creative process. But after two years of conversations with an adored publisher, my book has been rejected. The hope I built upon conversations with editors followed by countless hours writing, editing and revising was a house of sand, washed away in an instant with a "no, thank you" leaving me so forlorn that I started to question the reason for my very existence on the planet. What was it that I was doing here, anyway?
Terns beckon and swoop, then plunge into the clear blue harbor. After several minutes of this, one flees, and the other one stays. She surveys, swoops and plunges again. And again. Did she miss her target the fist time? Or maybe she's filing her bill and belly for eventual delivery elsewhere? It doesn't matter whether I know, because she knows. The tern knows her purpose. She doesn't falter – she does not doubt.
The path I strolled to get here, barefoot, is familiar. Thanks to trial and error during both ebb tide and flow, I'm confident in my choice of destinations this afternoon. I've walked it enough times to know where exactly how far to go to escape cold Atlantic wind for the still air of Nantucket Sound, and I know which tide pools can be traversed, and which ones are deceptively deep. At high tide, this beach is barely navigable; at low tide – the expansive serenity is otherworldly.
When contemplating the matched set of doubt and faith, I naturally reflect on my own spiritual journey, which has been anything but a walk on the beach -- it's actually been downright gnarly at times. But, I experienced deep and paralyzing doubt known among Christian mystics as the "Dark Night of the Soul" and lived to tell about it, so I felt confident writing from a place of peace with my spiritual self. But this is different. Though I've ridden the waves of inspiration and failure of many creative endeavors, I have not yet traveled all the way through the dark night of this particular creative path and I'm so stuck. I'm hopelessly tangled in line that leads nowhere, and choked by flotsam and jetsam. The footpath that led me to this position of rejection is out of sight – washed away by the incoming tide -- and the water just keeps rising. It feels like too much to bear.
But then it occurs to me as I lie here on the warm sand beneath bluebird sky, that if I'm lost, faith as I've known it won't help me find the trail.
But persistence might.
Faith is not passive idling, waiting for a miracle to blow in and move things along. The sign posts may have gotten washed away during a storm, and like the tern, I may plunge headfirst in to the cold sea a few times before I'm one with my target, but faith is certainty that if I keep going, the place I'm supposed to be will reveal itself to me. Though my purpose – my target isn't always within reach, it's there.
Just beneath the surface.
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