The Scared Sacred Journey #3

Italy, October, 1999

I find a cyber café and send an e-mail to Angela, updating my list of woes. She writes back:

What is going on! The lost traveler, no possessions, just his inner voice and a second hand I-Ching book. Obviously taking you in a direction you were destined to go.

A second note comes in from my mother. Accustomed to having a son who has always been a bit of a loser (of wallets, passports and keys), she’s not too surprised:

Hi Steve. I forgot happy birthday. I hope that wasn’t the day you were ripped off. ‘Sorrow not if in these days and on this earthly plain things contrary to your wishes have been ordained and manifested by God, for days of blissful joy and heavenly delight are assuredly in store for you.’ Baha’u’llah. Bye take care of yourself, never mind your goods and chattels. Love Mum.

~ ~ ~

There is a growing movement called ‘Voluntary Simplicity,’ in which one deliberately reduces one’s possessions to only that which is truly needed. Some choose to eliminate anything they haven’t used within a year or two. Others cut out unnecessary appliances-weed whackers, electric frying pans, television sets, all the things we think we need, but really just want. Life becomes uncluttered. There’s a sense of liberation. It’s not the same as poverty; it’s a choice. Ironic that the simplicity forced upon the multitudes of poor becomes a radical act of will for the privileged few. A strange form of suffering, drowning in stuff. But suffering it is. And the cause of suffering-the wealth of the first world is only possible through the exploitation of the rest of the world. Voluntary simplicity works, on many levels. Does involuntary simplicity count? How about involuntary humility?

~ ~ ~

“So. You lost your home. You lost your belongings. You lost your lover. Keep losing. . . lose everything. Then move on to the true loss-ego loss. You can be of service. You can fulfill your destiny. But only with a clear mind and a gentle true heart. You do not need inner fireworks exploding. You are not working towards a Big Bang. All you need to do is be present. You are simply opening to who You are. Who You really are. You are a coiled snake, an untapped resource. Don’t lie dormant all your life. Please. This is real. Lose your silly doubts. Lose them. Lose everything, but trust.”

~ ~ ~

I’d wanted to visit Assisi, home of the wonderfully mad Saint Francis, an early practitioner of Voluntary Simplicity, but now I’m fleeing on the next train. Hopefully I won’t continue running from disaster to disaster, from country to country, like a whipped dog. My inner voice exhorts me to trust, but I’m having trouble following that advice.
It’s cold. My sweater and coat are gone. But across the tracks is an extravagant cactus in a cracked lime green pot perched on an ancient wooden pedestal set off against a rich red brick wall with dark green moss in the cracks, creeping ivy studded with purple flowers pouring down from the balustrade above. Wish I had a camera.

I sit by the water, pull out my miniature ‘I Ching’, select three Italian coins, and throw a reading.

Sky Over Thunder

Be True

An expedition south bodes well.
You will see great people, so do not worry.
Flexibly adapt to the time.
And you will rise.

Rise by truthfulness.
Rise through empty lands.
Rise through the unknown.
Like a tree rises to the sky.

Be Humble

I know what I’ll be having for dessert today: humble pie.


1 Comment

  1. I’m really impressed. Voluntarily giving up everything that’s superfluous is one thing, but being robbed or otherwise deprived of your possessions is a different story and it’s no mean feat to accept it with humility. Sky over thunder? It would have never occurred to me, but now that I read it, it sound so simple and obvious. Too bad you didn’t make it to Assisi. I love Saint Francis and I’m sure he sent me my dog. Who else could be in charge of the Heavenly Animal Department?

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