In past centuries those wanting to enter a monastery would be made to stand outside for three days and nights. Only if they persevered would they then be admitted as postulants. And so it is with all who meditate. We sit outside a door waiting for it to open. Occasionally it does. We hear music from beyond and yet we know it is not our time to enter. It is our task to wait patiently at the threshold. That is all we have to do.
The entering of grace
By the open door
Of a house made ready.
This haiku is from The Ungainsayable Presence. The book, now out of print, was published anonymously. I knew the author. He had a demanding public life; but very few people know that he was a mystic, who began each day with four hours of silent meditation and reading.
All we have to do in meditation is sit patiently at the threshold.
From time to time we find ourselves at a psychological crossroads, wondering, ‘In what direction should I go?’ or ‘What spiritual practice should I take up?’ All such questions stem from our wanting to do something, whereas what one usually needs is simply to be. We have to learn to be patient, to wait at the crossroads and slowly integrate the tensions and opposites within us. Only then will we find the best direction in which to move.
Such are the times we live in that we all seem to want instant results and are impatient if we are kept waiting. We need to learn from Nature, just by sitting in a garden, or a park, or in open country. It is easy to meet with our friends on a bench in a park rather than in a noisy restaurant. Nature follows the seasons, and perhaps the one season from which we can learn most is winter, when everything seems dead. Yet we know that, deep underground, roots are at work, the sap is slowly rising, and when the moment of Spring comes the trees will put forth fresh leaves and the flowers will blossom. As with life, so also in our practice of meditation, we learn to be patient.