Once upon a time, a Sufi mystic was searching for something on the street outside her small hut. The sun was setting, and darkness was descending, as few people gathered around her. "What have you lost? What are you searching for? Perhaps we can help," they said.
"I have lost my needle." The mystic replied.
One of the people said, "Well, the sun is setting now, and it will be very difficult to find the needle. Where has it fallen? That will help us narrow down the search as this big road. If we have a better idea of where it might have fallen, it will be easier to find it."
The mystic told them, "It is better not to ask me that question -- because it has not fallen on the road at all. It has fallen inside my house."
They started to giggle because everyone thought she was joking. Then a skeptic said out loud, "We always knew that you were a little insane! If the needle has fallen inside the house, then why are you searching for it on the road?"
"For a very simple reason: inside the house, there is no light and on the outside, a little light is still there," the mystic replied.
The people laughed and started dispersing. The mystic called them back and said, "Listen! That’s exactly what you are doing: I was just following your example. You go on seeking bliss in the outside world without asking the most fundamental question: where exactly have I lost it?"
After a pause, she continues, "You have lost it inside, and yet you are looking for it on the outside for the very same reason -- your senses are outward bound, your ears hear sounds on the outside, your hands touch things on the outside. That's the reason why you are searching outside. For a very long time, I was also just searching on the outside. But the day I searched inwards, I was surprised. That is where I lost it, and that is the only place it can be found."
Consume, consume, consume. The mantra for Western society. Indiscriminate consumption of things in search of life. In search of stuff outside of ourselves, that will satisfy the deep longing in our hearts. That longing for our place in our world, that place we truly belong. To this end, our waking moments are spent collecting, scheming, hoarding and consuming those things that promise that life, all the while blind to the reality of the genuine potential right under our very noses. Some of us awake enough to discover that we are indeed spiritual beings as much as we are physical. In this recognition, we take on the consumption of a different kind. The consumption of spiritual things, self-help that masquerades as living water. We go to work consuming the work of the guru's, super-preachers and the copious amounts of spiritual resources available for sale, but they are not what will satisfy the deepest desires. So we stumble around in darkness in a gluttonous stupor.
“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. Mt 6:6
Behold, there is a light in the darkness. A light that beckons us deeper. That beckons us inward. To that place that we genuinely are. That place of authenticity, our original createdness and it is in this place we find Christ - the hope of glory. The genuine loving wellspring of belonging and wholeness. The living water that reorders heals, brings alignment, hope, meaning and transcendence. These things come as a gift as we simply receive them as a gift. With empty hands - no resume required, no references and no more toil. The good opinion of others is quite irrelevant. The only thing required is an honest "yes."
With a simple, gentle yes to what is already at the core of who you are, this place begins to expand. It brings with it a gentle revolution of love that emanates from this Christ at our centre and begins to bring refreshing to the dry and thirsty places in our hearts. Those places that have grown chaffed, calloused from years of disillusionment, disappointment - they begin to be softened, to heal as the life-blood of divine love continues its gentle but deliberate renovation of your heart.
"If we go down into ourselves, we find that we possess exactly what we desire." --Simone Weil
We can enjoy things. Something lovely, something dynamic, something stirring or inspiring but we do not find authentic life in them. Rather we can appreciate and enjoy them much, much more when we are not desperately looking to extract life from them - something that they are quite incapable of providing. Stop trying so hard. Stop working so hard for something you already have. Instead, adjust your gaze. Awaken to that which you seek is at the very centre of who you truly are, and in this awareness, knock and the door will be opened. You will seek and find - transforming love in all the right places.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Mt 11:28-30