I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope,
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing;
wait, without love,
For love would be love for the wrong thing;
There is yet faith.
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
And wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing….
TS Elliot captures, in this poem, the challenge of arriving into Kairos. Who are we without hope, without love, without faith, without thought?………That is a profound question which few can really sit in. Or, better yet, where are we when we actually arrive, if only for a moment, in that place where the stillness is dancing and darkness is light?
What few realize is that our identities, what we believe to be our selves, are a compilation of stories, weaving together the core components of our humanity….that is hope, love, faith, thought…but also desire, instinct, anger, sadness, joy, fear…..into a coherent, seamless blanket. These stories are necessary and ensure stability and equilibrium in place and time as we face the demands of our dynamic world. Our stories are reflected all around us in the things we do, the items we purchase, the spatial qualities of our home, the clothing we wear, how we use our time, who we spend our time with, who we love, who loves us…. We are all, at some level, always actively driven to protect, explore, validate, or grow our identities.
It is important to have mirrors around us that help us remember that our stories are not our Selves. They are our selves but not our Selves. Seeking beyond the small self happens when we are touched by the seeds of affliction. It may be helpful to understand affliction and its’ twin, disillusionment, as gateways to the Self, where stillness is dancing and darkness is light. Fear in its’ myriad of forms inevitably arises, luring one into moving away from this unfamiliar darkness, away from the threat of being swallowed whole or falling into an empty meaningless abyss where there is seemingly no protection, no control, no life. The irony is, all of life is held there. This is why we need a practice to guide us on that journey, a practice that expands our story to enable us to discover and hold the pearls of wisdom awaiting us in the darkness.
Elliot lures us to wait for the “faith and the love and the hope” that “are all in the waiting” so that the wisdom that lies within may rise and be heard, distinguished from thought….for we are not ready for thought.