This holy instant would I give to You. Be You in charge. For I would follow You, certain that Your direction gives me peace.
- And if I need a word to help me, He will give it to me. If I need a thought, that will He also give. And if I need but stillness and a tranquil, open mind, these are the gifts I will receive of Him. He is in charge by my request. And He will hear and answer me, because He speaks for God my Father and His holy Son.
Last year around this time, Lover and I watched an episode of The Chef’s Table, which starred Jeong Kwan, a Korean Buddhist monk. Following the dictates of her own heart, she left her father’s home where it was expected she would carry on the family tradition like her brothers and sisters. Although she has never worked in restaurants or attended culinary classes, now after years of solitude and devotion, Jeong Kwan travels the world promoting her message of awareness, compassion, and enlightenment through contemplative food preparation.
For those of us who struggle still with the peculiarity of being “called out,” Jeong’s story was a testimony. Her story serves as a prototype for how many of us must retreat from the world to find the true Self, which draws its strength, sustenance, and power from the Kingdom within.
Herein lies the only way in which we can truly identify with what is real about us. As long as we are engaged in the world, we are of the world, and defined by the world. We are judged by our appearance, our accomplishments, our gifts, talents, and contributions. We are also judged by our mistakes, our failings, our bloodlines, our social status. We find ourselves identifying with how others see us instead of with the real Self which is the Kingdom of God within us. We chase after love and belonging, fun and freedom, power and control, finding in the world that which only satisfies for a moment. Estranged from our source, we mistake our drives for meaning, and continue to chase that which does not sustain us. We think if only we work harder, pray harder, play harder we will satisfy that yearning, and so we weary ourselves with seeking and not finding in the world.
We can impress one another with our world travels, eat in fine restaurants, make love with princes, sultans, and playboys galore. We can wear silk robes and gold slippers, bedeck ourselves with diamonds and rubies, entertain ourselves with drama and gossip. We can stand for causes, promote social change, march in parades, and wear ribbons that call attention to injustice. We can build fortresses, submarines, electric cars, rockets to the moon – and it will not quell our deepest longings or answer our real question – what is this for?
Retreating from the world can easily be perceived as defeat. For Jeon Kwan’s father, concern for his daughter, denied a life rich with husband, children, and the family tradition of farming, was bringing him unrest. Only by visiting her at the monastery, observing and partaking in the deep contemplative practices of her devotion, could he find peace and consolation and give her his blessing.
Much like Jeon Kwan, a full retreat may be the way to honor the call of God, venturing into the wider world only at the Holy Spirit’s leading. For others, our retreat is found in the holy instants, the moments we receive the gifts of Holy Spirit as we, in our daily practice, ask the Holy Self, the God in us, to be in charge. It is here we find peace; we connect to our Source as we connect with each other, and we are given Everything.
 A Course in Miracles. Workbook for Students. Lesson 361-365. Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992). p. 486.
Audio credit: www.eckiefriar.com