I have always loved Louis L’Amour’s statement: “There will come a time when you believe everything is finished…that will be the beginning.”
I suspect I’ve loved that statement because more than once I’ve believed it was finished…as if it were all over for me. And never more acutely than when all the external trappings of my illusory self-identity began to fall away one-by-one.
First, it was the unexpected death of my father on the very day he joined the church I was serving. There was no one I wanted more to celebrate my ministerial accomplishments than my best friend and father. Honoring me, as he did, by joining the church one Sunday was a high point in my life and career. That very Sunday afternoon, in fact, I walked around the neighborhood gloating in my accomplishments. Although only thirty-nine, I had achieved more than other ministers in a lifetime of service. So I had one of those self-congratulatory talks. You know the kind. When the ego becomes intoxicated with itself.
“Look at you,” I gloated. “You’ve made it! You are the envy of all your peers.”
Eckhart Tolle says, “Life will give you whatever you need for the evolution of your consciousness.” Before nightfall that Sunday, my father up and died on me. The one man whose opinion mattered most to me…whose praise I had clamored for like a starving child managed to reward my accomplishments by dying on me.
I grew angry. Confused. Believed it was finished! That I was finished. “Who am I?” I remember thinking, “now that Dad is gone.”
“And where did he go? Will I ever see him again?” Questions about faith poured over the surface of my consciousness like lava from an active volcano. The glib answers I had given time and again no longer worked. Faith no longer worked. My religious convictions felt inadequate. Were inadequate. Faith…my faith was finished!
So I left the ministry. Soon afterwards, through a divorce. Within a year of my Dad’s death, all my reference points like clothing removed from a patient preparing for surgery, fell away.
Which IS, of course, exactly what I was preparing to undergo. Surgery. Inner surgery. The surgery of the soul. Perhaps the most important kind.
Though I was completely unaware of it at the time, what felt like the end to me…what I believed was “finished” was actually my new beginning. This is life’s grandest paradox, is it not?
In Buddhism, for example, there is this paradoxical teaching that what you are now experiencing will never completely disappear until you learn the lesson it was sent to teach you. Saint Paul said something similar when, to the Roman Christians, he wrote, “All things work together for good…”(Romans 8:28).
I suppose this was what Louis L’Amour was trying to convey, “There will come a time when you believe it is all finished…”
You might be feeling that way right now. If so, be reminded this day…this moment, my friend, you are where you are because there are mysteries of life that Life itself wants you to discover. Do not miss this moment. Do not run from what you’re experiencing. If you do, know it’ll show up again…somewhere…sometime. Perhaps a different operating room. But, the surgery of your soul must occur. You cannot anesthetize you way through it, either. It will be painful. Through it, however, I know…on this side of recovery, I can make you this promise…with confidence: You will find your real self…your eternal self…the point of human existence…the point of your existence. You will discover the secret to happiness…your happiness…
Your new Beginning!