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SATURDAY AFTER ASH WEDNESDAY
Open doors can be inviting but also frightening if you don’t know what lies on the other side. A traumatising moment in my childhood was walking into a room, putting my hand up on the wall to turn on the light and feeling another cold hand cover mine. Every horror film I had seen rushed through my body and I discovered what it means for your heart to stop, frozen with fear. My friend couldn’t stop laughing.
In the same way, new opportunities, doors opening into new rooms in the course of our lives, can fill us with hope but also with anxiety or dread. Closed doors from the outside can seem to be coldly excluding us. From the inside the same door can bestow on us security and peace. Jesus tells us to enter the inner room, which means we have first to open and pass through the door which takes time, courage and perseverance. What might be there to find in this unopened space within us? We have to pass through the unconscious to identify, then open and pass through the door of our heart into the inner room. These stages can take years because the heart is far deeper than the unconscious.
In the Chandogya Upanishad we find a description of what we find in this inner room:
The space in the heart is as big as the space outside. Heaven and earth are both within it, so also fire and air, the sun and the moon, lightning and the stars. Everything exists within that space in the embodied self—whatever it has or does not have.
Not the hand of a ghost, but the spaciousness of all space. The body is the city of God which is why we are urged to love and honour our bodies. The Katha Upanishad tells us more of what dwells in this inner room and yet is there without displacing anything else: in the room without taking up room.
That being, of the size of a thumb, dwells deep within the heart. He is the lord of time, past and future. Having attained him, one fears no more. He, truly, is the immortal Self.
The source of the greatest human transformation is always in inter-personal encounter. Finding not just a but personal being in our inner room might sound like the shock I had as a child when a stranger invisible hand covered mine in the dark. But it does not fill us with fear. It removes fear so that the immense other is known intimately as the other myself, the friend sought throughout time and found in the present.
Lenten Reflections 2023
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