Centering and Connecting Love | July 11, 2021 by Dr. Dorsey Blake
What a beautiful and moving prayer this is, imploring the Creator and Sustainer of our individual and collective existence for guidance, support, strength, and light. We have not been this way before. The road ahead is new to us. There are so many pitfalls, ways to get lost, and to take the wrong road. Rain, fog, mirages often make it difficult to see what is ahead. Yet, we move in our “busyness, “always going somewhere away from “home.”
Our schedules are so full that it is difficult for us to take time for ourselves, to center ourselves. This was a primary concern of Dr. Howard Thurman. We often are so busy that we ignore that which is essential to our living. He expressed this to me in a note he left on my desk when I worked with him at the Howard Thurman Educational Trust. Initially, I resented it. What a nerve he had to question my interior self, the place within, from which flowed my radical commitment to the outer work of revolution, or at least social transformation! And he was right! I did need to visit and linger a while with my inner self. We often bristle at what may be considered criticism. Even strong personalities can be laid low when someone perceives and articulates the perception that the person’s has shortcomings, and work needs to be done to bring the self into a greater integrity. The busyness could be a cover-up or flight from oneself, from interrogating oneself. It may obfuscate what needs to be seen, addressed, and clarified. The Achilles heel reality leaves many souls limping.
On the other hand, there are times when emptiness seems to rule. A seemingly eternal lethargy shadows our days, submitting to the domination of anxieties, depression, and loss of the joy of life. We don’t seem to know how, when, or even if we want to move ahead. There is no horizon before us, just quicksand beneath. We forget that an important discipline is always available to us, ready and eager to reattach us to the love and grandeur of life’s journey.
The words of Dr. Howard Thurman refresh and direct:
How Good to Center Down!
How good it is to center down!
To sit quietly and see one’s self pass by!
The streets of our minds seethe with endless traffic;
Our spirits resound with clashings, with noisy silences,
While something deep within hungers and thirsts for the still moment
and the resting lull.
With full intensity we seek, ere the quiet passes, a fresh sense
of order in our living;
A direction, a strong sure purpose that will structure our confusion
and bring meaning in our chaos.
We look at ourselves in this waiting moment – the kinds of people we are.
The questions persist: what are we doing with our lives? –
what are the motives that order our days?
What is the end of our doings?
Where are we trying to go?
Where do we put the emphasis and where are our values focused?
For what end do we make sacrifices?
Where is my treasure and what do I love most in life?
What do I hate most in life and to what am I true?
Over and over the questions beat in upon the waiting moment.
As we listen, floating up through all the jangling echoes of our turbulence,
there is a sound of another kind –
A deeper note which only the stillness of the heart makes clear.
It moves directly to the core of our being.
Our questions are answered,
Our spirits refreshed, and we move back into the traffic of our daily round
With the peace of the Eternal in our step.
How good it is to center down!
Indeed, it is so good to center down to halt the wanderings, to quiet the noises, to just sit with the self and re-acquaint yourself with the self. It’s a good self that’s been through trials and tribulations, sadness, disappointment, wandering – refined in the fires of life. It is a beautiful self that has also experienced goodness and uniquely contributed to the evolution of the world. In the centering journey we are reminded that we do not always have to accomplish something. It’s okay to just “be” for a while. Then with refreshed spirits we can re-enter the challenges of life. Yes, the soul needs nurturing and spiritual exercises to develop the muscle and stamina needed for the arduous, intriguing, and awesome journey ahead with the company of the Eternal.
Through the centering we connect anew to our authentic self rather than the cosmetic self. The authentic self builds critical connections, powerful and crucial to generating community so desperately needed. Mari Evans speaks of this in her wonderful poem: Celebration.
I will bring you a whole person and you will bring me a whole person and we will have us twice as much of love and everything
I be bringing a whole heart and while it do have nicks and dents and scars, that only make me lay it down more careful-like
An' you be bringing a whole heart a little chipped and rusty an' sometime skip a beat but still an' all you bringing polish too and look like you intend to make it shine
And we be bringing, each of us the music of ourselves to wrap the other in
Forgiving clarities Soft as a choir's last lingering note our personal blend
I will be bringing you someone whole and you will be bringing me someone whole and we be twice as strong and we be twice as true and we will have twice as much of love.
Dr. Thurman wrote:
Behold the miracle! Love has no awareness of merit or demerit; it has no scale by which its portion may be weighed or measured. It does not seek to balance giving and receiving. Love loves; this is its nature. But this does not mean that love is blind, naïve, or pretentious. It does mean that love holds its object securely in its grasp, calling all that it sees by its true name but surrounding all with a wisdom born both of its passion and its understanding. Here is no traffic in sentimentality, no catering to weakness or to strength. Instead, there is robust vitality that quickens the roots of personality, creating an unfolding of the self that redefines, reshapes, and makes all things new. Such an experience is so fundamental in quality that an individual knows that what is happening to him can outlast all things without itself being dissipated or lost.
At such a critical point in our nation’s history where so much that divides is clear, where so much hatred abounds, we have the opportunity and responsibility to illustrate the power of love so that it becomes contagious.
Love’s gift cannot be given,
it waits to be accepted.