God Steps In

I love poetry and so am always happy to come across a poet whose work I have not seen before.

Yesterday, the Inward/Outward daily reflection that arrived in my mailbox had a poem by Dorothy Hunt titled Peace is This Moment Without Judgment. The poem rejects the things we think will bring peace, suggesting a very simple understanding of peace:

Peace is this moment without judgement.
That is all.

This moment in the heart-space where everything that is, is welcome.

Peace is this moment without thinking that it should be some other way
That you should feel some other thing
That your life should unfold according to your plans.

Drawn by the simple truth, I checked Hunt’s website. My reactions after reading several of her poems was “Why haven’t I read any of her work before?”

I was particularly drawn to a poem titled The Invitation. It reflects so well what has been my experience and that of many others: if you invite God in, God is not going to stop at the front parlor. Be prepared: if you say yes, God is coming all the way in, and that is going to be uncomfortable. (It will actually be really uncomfortable at times.)

The Invitation seems to me a perfect poem for a late Advent reflection.

When God comes in your house
it is only by your invitation,
but even your invitation is God’s,
for she has always been
landlady and tenant,
windows and walls,
the fire in your hearth
and the cold wind blowing at your door.

At first, her visits seem so welcome.
She brings tea and cookies and loves you
so sweetly inside your own heart.
You keep inviting her back
by your prayers and meditations,
imagining you’ve found the one you always wanted
who will hold you on her endless lap
and take away your pain forever.

But pretty soon, she starts arriving
unexpectedly, at odd hours of the day and night,
and every time she comes,
she takes something away–
a pretty picture here, a bookcase there,
maybe even some trash
you are happy to be rid of
in your basement.

But at some point, it occurs to you
she intends to move in completely.
And now the mind starts backing up:
“Perhaps you could come back another day,
after I’ve worked on my house,
after I’ve bought nicer furniture,
after I’ve finished my fight with evil,
after I’ve planted a peace garden.”

But you must know
that if you invite God in,
sooner or later she will set up house,
and when she does, beware;
for she tosses out every single thing
she does not need, which,
in the case of the personality,
is every single thing you thought you were.

Every thought and cherished belief
she just throws out on the garbage heap;
and that might be fine if she replaced them,
but she never replaces those sacred thoughts;
she utterly destroys them. She strips the coverings
off the walls, and peels the paper from the window glass,
opens the door to invite in the wind,
and every creature you wanted kept out.

Sometimes she cleans your house gently,
dismantling it room by room.
But often, she just comes in with a torch,
and you feel in your gut the fire burn
in the center of your separate comfort,
and you watch the contents of your house
melt and turn to ash,
and the roof blow off.

And just when you think
there is nothing more that she could take,
she opens the ground beneath
the barely intact shell of your house,
and all the levels of your being
fall into the space that has no name;
and you are left alone in all the world,
without a map, without a path, without a point of view.

And you know you are creator of your dreams,
your dreams of mountains and rivers,
calm seas and storm clouds,
crashes of lightning and spacecraft,
beautiful babies asleep at the breast,
joyful dancing and puppies at play,
Spring’s new blossoms,
and the threat of Winter’s war.

And at this point,
what you are inside your house
is simply What is looking out.
Nothing’s left but what is looking,
yet everything you see is you.
Now your life turns inside out.
Your body is the world of being
looking out of Just What Is.

And strange as it seems
to the mind of your memory,
you enjoy each dance of yourself,
even the pains you hoped to be rid of,
you experience fully without regret.
For everywhere your eye may look,
all it sees is infinite love
displaying itself in creation.

And just to be completely honest,
there are times you might be tempted
to rebuild your house of concepts,
for the mind just loves to think;
but the fire of Truth resides within you,
where it always lived before you knew,
and it keeps revealing moment to moment
what is false and what is true.

So what can be said about what happens
when God takes over her house?
She laughs and simply sips her tea,
washes her dishes and sleeps when it’s time,
then goes to find another house
where there has been an invitation,
an invitation to come in
from the deep, deep love of Herself.

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