The Thread of Light

The Way It Is

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
–William Stafford

One of my Lorian colleagues introduced me to this poem earlier this year. For him it serves as a reminder that his life has a unique and specific purpose; and holding on to that “thread” allows him to express and explore that inner mission while also living in the here and now.

Though I appreciate the “thread” motif above, for me life feels more like a pilgrimage. As I consider the imagery that tethers me to my own life design, most of the time it’s the tree of life or a winding pathway through the wilderness. Sometimes I sense a flowing magical river….

But while working with yesterday’s exercise, another image emerged. A little while ago another friend introduced me to a song by Cliff Eberhardt (with Richie Havens): “The Long Road.” (It’s an oldie, though brand new to me.)

There are the ones you call friends 
There are the ones you call late at night 
There are the ones who sweep away your past 
With one wave of the hand 
There are the ones you call family 
There are the ones you hold close to your heart 
There are the ones who see danger in you 
And won't understand 

I can hear your voice in the wind 
Are you calling to me? Down the long road
Do you really think that there's an end 
I have followed my dreams, down the long road 

You are the one that I met long ago 
You are the one who saw my dream 
You are the one who took me from my home 
And left me off somewhere 
Somehow I feel you are here 
You are waiting in that dream 
Somewhere down this road we will awake 
And be at the start again 

I can hear your voice in the wind 
Are you calling to me? Down the long road
Do you really think that there's an end? 
I have lived my whole life, down the long road 
I've got to find you tonight 
Are you waiting for me? 
I have followed my dream 
I have lived my whole life 
Are you waiting for me? 

I can hear your voice in the wind 
Are you calling to me? Down the long road 
Do you really think that there's an end 
I have followed my dream, down the long road 

I can hear your voice in the wind 
Are you calling to me? Down the long road 
Do you really think that there's an end 
I will live my whole life, down the long road

I can hear your voice in the wind 
Are you calling to me? Down the long road
Do you really think that there's an end 
I have followed my dreams, down the long road

Music is often a portal for me. And this particular song took me down the road of my own life while offering me a glimpse of that inner light traveling within me all along.

Especially right now “the long road” feels especially poignant. There are times when the life journey gets complicated. As William says, “People wonder about what you are pursuing/You have to explain about the thread/ But it is hard for others to see.” And as Cliff sings, ” There are the ones who see danger in you and won’t understand…I have followed my dream down the long road.”

In some ways the thread and the dream are the same theme. Some believe that self-light summons the dream and tethers the thread to our souls. Self light as expression of purpose.

I tend to think of self light as comparable with Star-glass, the Phial of Light that Galadriel (from Lord of the Rings) gifted to Frodo, saying, “May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.”

Sometimes the road of life feels dark and painful. It’s comforting to realize that an inner light journeys within us, reminding us not only of our origins and our purpose, but also our potentiality.

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Inner Light Meditation (an adaptation of Self-Light Exercise)

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Note: As with all exercises and meditations,  it is important to proceed with a clear sense of your own inner knowing and grounding. Feel free to adapt imagery and open to the experience you are being inwardly drawn to. If, at any time, you feel uncomfortable, stop and reassess. Perhaps try again at a later time or, if it doesn’t feel right, do not continue at all. As David says, exercises and meditations are made for us, not the other way around.

This Inner Light Meditation is adapted from David Spangler’s Expanded Self-Light Exercise.

Take a moment to center yourself: breathe deeply and allow the details of the day, hour, moment to fade into the background. Settle into yourself.

Call to mind an image of God/Source/Spirit…when you imagine Divinity,  what do you see? A motherly presence? A great-grandfather with white beard and kindly face? An angelic being? Do you see a great burst of light and energy, spanning across eons, timeless and spacious? Or the eternal tree of life with its roots stretching downward to infinity and its limbs branching upwards into myriad worlds? Do you see an infant, quiet and humble? However God comes, attune to this Presence. Honor this Presence.

Now call to mind an image of yourself when you have felt the most yourself– full, vibrant, fulfilled, sparkling. Where were you? What were you doing? Were you a child in a school play? On a road trip the summer after graduation with your closest friends? The day you married your best friend? Every day you wake up to teach children, your life’s dream?  Swimming in the ocean? Quilting? Running? Learning to play the guitar in the corner of your bedroom? Singing karaoke for the first time at 34? Or do you feel the most yourself when you care for others? Allow yourself to feel into these moments in your life, whatever they happen to be. Allow them to echo within you…remind you of the essence of life, which is love.

Yes, you are the result of such love! You are alive! You are bright and full of self-hood! You have consciousness! You have a body!  You are present! You are here, now!

Focus upon the sense of fullness and brightness generated by knowing that you are alive. Imagine yourself surrounded by brightness, by light.

Sense the light surrounding you flowing from within your Self. It is not borrowed light. It is the light gifted to you, a gift of love, because you are alive. You are courageous, a pioneering spirit.

Yet even the best planned lives sometimes go awry. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way we hoped. Sometimes we love and we lose. Sometimes we love and we win, and yet other precious things get lost in the exchange. Sometimes we disappoint ourselves and others. Or others disappoint us. Sometimes we change. Even when we know better, we sometimes make foolish choices…. Allow yourself to feel the fullness of what it means to be alive–the pain, the frustration, the craziness. At the same time cradle this darkness in the light of life, the light of Your Life. These dark, painful moments do not dim our inner lights.

You see, it takes incredible courage to be born. To take on a body. To choose parents, a culture and point in history to be born into. To risk this dream called life. Why are you alive now and not a hundred years ago? What uniqueness lies within you that has come so far to express itself? Recognize and honor your bravery and the inner light inherited by saying yes to this life dream.

Self light is the light within you because you are alive.  Allow this light to spread through you, surrounding your physical body. Re-member this light in memories of yourself. It is present within you in your greatest moments. It is present in spite of your greatest disappointments. It is the light within all of you. It holds everything.

Return to your image of God, surrounded by Divine Light. From this inner place full of self light, again honor this Divine Presence. Then, gently, allow this God-image to fade away, realizing that the light within you remains. Your self-light is an echo of Divine Light combined with the Light generated by being born on Earth. It is the Presence of the Sacred within–as well as the sacred intent of your own Soul which you are an expression of.

When you are ready, gently bring this meditation to a close. Return to your day and your life knowing that you are a child of Sacredness, a being of light in your own right.