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Tuesday, September 10, 2013


The hope of the spiritual journey is not that you will be free from suffering or magically freed from facing the very real challenges of your life.  The hope is that your spiritual practice and approach will strengthen you and make you better able to face the challenges that cross your path.

Just like a climber going up a mountain doesn't expect that their training or equipment makes the climb less of a challenge, so it is on the spiritual journey.  The better a climber you are, the better your tools and equipment, the more rigorous your past climbs, the better you are able to manage what lies ahead.  And, like any practiced climber knows, after you have seen what is possible by scaling the mountain, an easy stroll on the sidewalk seems less interesting.

There is no need to go thrill seeking on the spiritual path, no need to seek the emotional and spiritual and psychological challenges that push us to the limit or test us the most.  Life itself provides an endless array of challenges.  We might be faced with unexpected loss, or change we didn't want, or the fulfilment of every dream only to find the dream empty, or the isolation of feeling stuck in our own creation, living with fear or uncertainty or boredom.  There are 10,000 ways that life challenges us.

Today, a father told me about the death of his 13-year old son by suicide, and how real the pain is all these years later; his son would be 30 today were he still alive.  And how the most helpful thing at the time was a friend who came to the visitation, didn't say a word, but embraced this man for many minutes, just holding his friend and crying with him and then letting go without ever saying a word.

And this man understood from the hug everything that words could never say: that his friend was there for him, without judgement, wanting to help but knowing that no words could help in that moment, and that he would show up and be available no matter how hard it all got.

You don't have to look far for the biggest mountain you'll ever climb....

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