My soul leads me into the desert, into the desert of my own self. I did not think that my soul is a desert, a barren, hot desert, dusty and without drink. The journey leads through hot sand, slowly wading without a visible goal to hope for? How eerie is this wasteland. It seems to me that the way leads so far away from mankind. I take my way step by step, and do not know how long my journey will last.Carl G. Jung, The Red Book
[…] My soul, what am I to do here? But my soul spoke to me and said, “Wait.” I heard the cruel word. Torment belongs to the desert.
At the beginning of the Red Book, Jung embarks on a journey to find his soul. The book is a summary of that journey, which took him 16 years to complete. Following his soul, he finds himself in a hot and unforgiving desert. Desperate, without having found even the smallest clue, he asks his soul what he shall do. She gives him the best advice: wait. He takes it as a punishment. Surely waiting is not finding. One does not leave everything and travel to the desert just to wait… And yet, that was what he needed. To wait. To stop. To seat down and listen to the world as it spins. If we want to look inside, we need to detach for a while. Ironically, the first step in an inner journey is to stop and wait.
Silence is one of the major thresholds in the world. The spirituality of the Desert Fathers deeply influenced Celtic spirituality. For these ascetics silence was the teacher: ‘A certain brother came to the Abbot Moses in Scete seeking a word from him. And the old man said to him: “Go and sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you all things.”’John O’Donohue, Anam Cara
Everyone’s journey is different, unique. The tools we need are different. The pace is different. And, essentially, we are alone. Family, friends may cheer from the shore, from the top of a distant tower, but our journey is our own and no one can walk our path for us.
This task is appointed for you, Frodo; and if you do not find a way, no one will.J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
When you begin walking in the desert you are full of hope that you will find great treasures, solid truths, answers… And yet, for many, many days you find nothing. Nothing. The uttermost nothingness. You see yourself alone and you begin to wonder if this was a good idea. Weeks later, scorched by the sun, thirsty, exhausted, you conclude that this was actually a terrible idea.
Nobody can spare themselves the waiting and most will be unable to bear this torment, but will throw themselves with greed back at men, things, and thoughts, whose slaves they will become from then on.Carl G. Jung, The Red Book
And one day, unexpectedly, almost distractedly, you see a small seed on the sand. Out of sheer desperation, you soak it in the few drops of water you had left in your waterskin. Suddenly, this seed has become more important to you than your own life. You water it, desperately, until one day you see the smallest beginning. And then you know you are not lost. You know you will never be lost.
You think you are alone in the desert, but if you had a ladder and you could climb but a few meters, you would see that the desert is full of people like you, groping in the sandstorm, desperate to find. And you would see the tears in their eyes when they, at last, find a small insignificant seed that suddenly becomes everything.
If you are looking for answers, if you find yourself in the middle of the desert, tired, thirsty, hopeless, cursing the gods, cursing yourself, despairing, be confident. In the end, you will find a beginning. I don’t know much, but I know this: if you seek, you find.
Thank you so much for your very nice comment about yesterday’s blog, Window of the Soul. I tried to reply but accidentally deleted it instead! (Oops—I am sometimes a hazard unto myself!) Thanks also for following! Blessings, Julia
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Many thanks Julia. Never mind about the comment, I’ve done worse 🙂 All the best, Enrique
Hi Enrique, I LOVE this blog. It speaks to me as I now wander around alone in the desert reevaluating a close friendship of eight years and awaiting wise counsel from my soul. It’s a lonely journey but I know that I am not alone. Thank you! And thank you for following Voices and for your faithful readership. It means a lot! Meanwhile, I feel as if I am all alone in a WordPress desert, trying to figure out why nothing registers when I push the like button for your blog, and why my attempts at following you have been thwarted by some nonsensical message about subscription management. Sigh. Many blessings to you, Julia
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Hi Julia. Thank you very much for your kind words! When I read the Red Book, “Wait” sounded like a harsh punishment, but I now see it’s just the first step of the journey (quite ironically). We really have to stop and listen. I found that I needed to formally allocate enough time for this every day, like you do. Even if we are alone in our journeys, I like to see fellow travellers through the window. I wonder now if the journey itself won’t be much more fun and interesting than whatever is at the end of the rainbow.
I do love your blog, thank you for writing it!
No idea how to help with the like button. I see that it sometimes doesn’t work on my phone, but it does on my laptop. No idea why.
Take care, Enrique
Hi Enrique, Thank you so much for your comment. I really appreciate hearing from you! I love encouraging comments, especially on the days when I wonder why I’m doing what I’m doing! “Even though we are alone in our journeys” as you say, I too enjoy little peeks through the windows because it helps me to feel connected to others. These days, we need all the connection we can get! BTW due to my lack of Wordpess savvy, I nearly missed seeing your comment. Glad I found it! Stay safe, sane and healthy, Julia
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BTW, I can see you in my followers list. One of the advantages of having so few followers is that I can scan it quickly 🙂