"We cannot wish, think or even pray all of life's challenges and pains away. They are going to come as sure as we are breathing. But we can find our sail, our wings, our kingdom in order to be able to withstand life's blows. It's not a mind thing or even a heart thing. It's a spirit thing."
When my colleague, who would admit is neither spiritual nor religious, asked me how to make since of the suicide, I couldn't. "We can't make sense of death, in any case, with our human mind," I remember saying. And in talking with my friend who is still grieving her father's death, I shared how we must remember that, though the body has its stopping point, love never dies.
Death of a loved one, and even strangers, is something we cannot comprehend in our humanness. After having a car accident last week, though it was minor, it made me think of my own life -- how fragile it is and how much more meaningful it could be.
But, believe it our not, this post isn't about death, it's about how all around us the world is shaking. No matter where we look, it seems that things are falling apart. Things are being shaken. Ourselves included.
A few years before my father passed, he preached a sermon, "An Unmovable Kingdom," from Hebrews 12:22-29 (you can hear it here). But it was last week that I thought about that kingdom being within us. Tragedies and death are certain to come. We will be challenged and changed by them. We will mourn, and hopefully, go through all the stages of grief. We will feel broken and lost. We will enter dark nights.
But there really is no need to fret. We may think that we're going to crumble and it certainly feels that way, but deep within us is an unshakeable kingdom. There is a place within us that holds still and remains true through our deepest, most terrifying storms. A place that hasn't been shaken by the tragedy where we can go to find our strength. Perhaps it is where grace meets us or where the Holy Spirit resides. Maybe we can call it our third space, even.
I'm not a theologian. I'm not sure what scriptures directly support what I'm saying. But, if we are made in the image of God, if we are co-heirs to Christ, then there's got to be a place within us that is our anchor. A place that "holdeth the rain," as the song says. A place that withstands the beaten and also calls us out of the storms of life into safety. It's beyond intuition. It's beyond gut feelings. It's the place we go to when we meditate, and when we need emotional and spiritual shelter. It's what we nurture and where we are nurtured.
This inner kingdom reminds me of the poem, "The Way It Is," by William Stafford that goes...
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn't change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
(From The Way It Is, 1998)
This unshakeable kingdom is the place my thread took me to when I stood beside the car my Dad drove while the paramedics were working on him when he had a massive heart attack. It's the same place I went to while I was standing beside my own car last week when I had my car accident. It's the place that is always there, open, ready to receive me and lift me in Love. It's like the rock surrounded by sinking sand. It's the place we must know, cultivate, and honor -- our unshakeable kingdom.
We cannot wish, think or even pray all of life's challenges and pains away. They are going to come as sure as we are breathing. But we can find our sail, our wings, our kingdom in order to be able to withstand life's blows. It's not a mind thing or even a heart thing. It's a spirit thing. And I'm thankful the spirit of God has placed within each of us (we have to do work to "find" this place) an unshakeable kingdom -- one that lasts when the world around us is constantly falling.
This week's questions
How are you able to access your unmovable kingdom? What are some things you can do now to become more acquainted with this part of your spiritual self?