Readers of by turns may have gathered that something major has happened in the life of our little family. I haven't spoken of it until now because I'm still learning how to think about it, much less talk about it. It all started about 2 years ago one winter night when Suzanne and I sat down and dreamed our life together. Not in a wouldn't that be nice way, but more like a, universe, this is what we want, we think it's good, so let's see about making this happen. Fast forward to the following Fall. I knew the service at my then current job was ending, I knew it was time for me to leave but for a whole bunch of reasons I was afraid to, even though I knew in my bones it was time. Chief among those fears, understandably, was that my work was the sole source of income so without that we'd be up...you know, a certain kind of creek. Plus, you may remember that the economy wasn't doing so hot at the time. So I let those fears determine the course of my life and that of my family's. Until the Baha'i Fast in March.
For 19 days (Baha'i months are 19 days) Baha'is over the age of 15 don't eat or drink from sunrise till sunset in order to cleanse, purify and focus on our spiritual development. It's always an intense time for me and this time was no different. I've always felt like I had a pretty strong connection to God. There's been peaks and valleys for sure, but always something. The first day of the Fast I woke up and felt completely surrounded by darkness. Nothing. I was alone. It suhucked. I was completely at a loss. I made it through the day hoping the next day would bring the dawn. Nothing again. I went to the Baha'i House of Worship in Wilmette to pray. As I prayed the thought of me leaving my work crossed my mind and for the first time in two excruciatingly long days I felt some light creep in. I left knowing that I needed to leave but unsure of what Suzanne would think. I went to the office and chatted over Gmail and said I think it was time for me to leave. Suzanne said, I know it's time for you to leave. I've known for months. I was just waiting for you to realize it. Hooray for wives! So I went to my supervisor, talked about it with him and thankfully he was more than understanding. I told him that it was time for me to follow a path that I feel the Lord has been trying to take me down for months but I've been too afraid to follow (yeah, I get to talk about stuff like this at work. How awesome is that?!), and now it's clear that I have to take this leap. Another reason I hesitated is because I believed in the work I was doing and didn't want to leave the office in the lurch. But I had to trust that if this really was something He wanted me to do then He would take care of everyone involved (that word trust would become HUGE in the following months, little did I know). So, again, thankfully, everyone at work was supportive of this decision. My last day of work was 2 1/2 weeks later, the last day of the Fast.
I still remember the walk home from the El the evening of that last day. It was a nice, cool evening out. And I felt exactly like Indiana Jones. I think it was the whip. Just kidding. I don't have a whip. But it was like that scene in The Last Crusade where he has to step out over that chasm, trusting that something will catch him. That's pretty much how we all felt. No job lined up, some savings but not much, and we had to be out of our place in June. This is when it all began.
So we'd told God, in a very humble, very respectful way, this is how we'd like to live. It turns out He was listening. He just didn't give us the answer we thought He would. Instead He seemed to say, if you want to live that way, free, truly free, you're going to have to let go of some things. First was my job and all that that brings. Second was our home and most of our belongings. Third, and most importantly, anything that held us back from Him. The stuff way down deep in the corners of our souls, the things you hope you never have to face, the stuff you'd rather not think about. He made us think about it. For several months, every day, it felt as if we were going to a really rough chiropractor or massage therapist. You know it's good for you but it doesn't feel good at the time. We could feel ourselves releasing any anger we had towards Him, any hate, any doubts we had that He would take care of us, any sense that He'd left us alone at certain points in our lives. It really didn't feel good but we knew it was absolutely necessary. We even wanted to quit a couple times but we knew we had to keep going, because otherwise, what kind of life would we lead. Where do you go from there if not forward? Meanwhile, our lease was up the first day of June. For this whole time we'd been living almost entirely through prayer, intuition and meditation. Our intuition told us that we needed to leave our place and give away all our stuff. All we ended up keeping was what we could fit in our van. We gave it all away. For free. It felt like that was the only way we could free ourselves from our belongings. Freeing ourselves of all this set the stage for the internal work that carried on for most of the summer.
So fast forward to now. We're back in Evanston after living with family for most of that time. We have an apartment that's perfectly suited to our needs right now, close to the lake, 2 bedrooms (and a brand new kitchen!) and close to where we used to live. I was just offered my old job and it felt just as right to go back as it did to leave it last year. The lesson? Everything is different. On the surface it's all pretty much the same. But dig a little and underneath our approach to life is completely different. Every day is a leap but we're used to it now. We honestly feel we're living God's will for us, which we never would have found if we'd let fear dictate the terms of our life. Now I'm not saying this is for everyone, that everyone should quit their jobs and give away all their stuff. I'm saying, and realizing now, how those things were exactly what we needed to live the life we asked for 2 years ago. And the biggest secret I learned over the past year? All is love."Know thou of a certainty that Love is the secret of God’s holy Dispensation, the manifestation of the All-Merciful, the fountain of spiritual outpourings. Love is heaven’s kindly light, the Holy Spirit’s eternal breath that vivifieth the human soul. Love is the cause of God’s revelation unto man, the vital bond inherent, in accordance with the divine creation, in the realities of things.Love is the one means that ensureth true felicity both in this world and the next. Love is the light that guideth in darkness, the living link that uniteth God with man, that assureth the progress of every illumined soul. Love is the most great law that ruleth this mighty and heavenly cycle, the unique power that bindeth together the divers elements of this material world, the supreme magnetic force that directeth the movements of the spheres in the celestial realms. Love revealeth with unfailing and limitless power the mysteries latent in the universe."