The Intimate Unknown

see Soulwork Toward Sunday :self-guided retreat
Epiphany 2B, January 15, 2012
“to know and be known”

I was complaining to a friend recently about my frustrations with a loved one, and how I can’t seem to communicate the depth of my distress, or how I feel, or what I think, or how this ongoing argument between us affects me all out of proportion to the merely slight irritation it should be.

The wise person listening to me said, “The problem is that you want to be known.”

YES ! That’s it! That’s the core of every argument, I think. Wanting not only to be heard, but understood. To be known. Especially by one you love. (You’ll notice that I’m purposely ignoring knowing and understanding the other person, but, let me just stay on one side for now.)

I think a lot now about my need and desire to be known.

On what seems to be a completely different topic, although they come together later down the page, I’ve been trying this autumn and winter to turn around the giant battle ship of my priorities away from the desk and toward taking better care of my health and body. So, I slimmed down my work and travel schedule, go to therapy to try to get “grounded,” meditate daily, and try to adhere more strictly to a diet appropriate to my allergies. (I seem to be allergic to most everything). And, I’ve begun a yoga practice at a local studio. Intrinsic to my avoidance of exercise is the life-long terror of being bored, heaven forbid. Anyway, I’m not bored at yoga class, because the instructor makes paying attention to what is happening in the body interesting. I already notice better health, energy, strength, and balance. On my way home from the studio I sometimes I hear the brittle little discs in my back singing, “O thank you thank you thank you” like children in the back seat after an adventure movie at the multiplex.

So this morning I had an insight about knowing and being known, and learning to know my body and my limitations. My prayer practice all these years has meant a deepening into the intimate unknown. But I realize my body is unknown, and observing my emotions and feelings is an unknown, knowing myself – at least the parts of my being not related to a very specific and busy part of my brain – is unknown.

Can these new practices of knowing myself lead to a better spiritual practice? Am I learning to work new muscles, so to speak, new ways of intuiting, new ways of observing that which is unknown?  Who better to practice on than myself?

2 Responses to “The Intimate Unknown”

  1. dblakley Says:

    This was wonderful and spoke directly to my own circumstance and walk. Thank you for your lovely, honest voice.

  2. alexandra rich Says:

    Dear Suzanne,

    I am Grace Rich’s daughter, your dear teacher of old. We are still living in St. James, though Mom is soon leaving her earthly existence. One night months ago, I was looking through her Bible books and saw your Grace’s Window. I have read and re-read this daily, at any moment I can steal. It has been a source of contant comfort and learning.

    I would love to be in contact with you.

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