Last week, I suggested that at the very core of our being, there is an aching longing. This is a longing that may be at once uncovered and responded to by the experience of beauty. That beauty may be experienced in music, in art, in story. It may also be encountered in another person.
If we look at this longing, we can picture it in a number of ways. The very experience of longing seems to come from our inmost core. Yet, it is a reaching out beyond ourselves for something more. Longing, therefore, is an experience of incompleteness; since completeness would put an end to longing. It also then involves a tendency to grow and develop.I really appreciate the images that musician, Miriam Therese Winter Therese , uses in speaking about this longing, in an article entitled, Music, the Way Home.
“We are all homesick for wholeness. We know that we are incomplete and less than whole, that part of us is always away from home. We long for at-homeness with ourselves, with others in human warmth and affection, for the felt presence of transcendence, for the human family, and all of creation. We are in need of healing, and healing means coming home. We are always journeying home, and to come home is to experience completion, at least momentarily…. .Home is somewhere within us, … it means to live from the inside out. To do so is to be at home. … Wholeness, healing, integration: that is what the inner journey is all about. … For some, music accompanies their inner journey; for others, it is the journey itself, the journey into ultimate meaning. When we embrace music as a healing presence, we are already home.”
Miriam Therese Winter uses the images of journey, home, and meaning. In a similar manner, Dag Hammarskjold has written in Markings that the longest journey is the journey inward to the core of one’s being.
Mythologist, Joseph Campbell, speaks of this inward journey as the journey of the hero, which he sees as the underlying theme of all stories. It involves, leaving home, struggle and victory, and return with a gift. Implicit in this journey is its beginning with the experience of incompleteness which flows into longing, and sets the journey in motion.
What we leave home, we leave our present level of growth and development, our present level of understanding and caring. The struggle is to see clearly beyond any blindness, and to reach an inner freedom beyond compulsions. It is a struggle with whatever prevents us from acknowledging and living according to our own worth and that of others. It is a struggle, therefore, with our fears and hostilities–the fear that we are worthless and the hostility at the limitations and pains of life. These are often lived out without awareness and projected on to others. The victory is a profound sense of awareness and a resulting compassion for self and others.
The final stage in the “hero’s journey” is a return home with a gift. The gift is that of wisdom and compassion, and courage in the struggle. This journey moves with our personal gifts and the concrete life situation, and struggles against conditions that foster blindness and hostility. Above all, it is to be at home to ourselves, to be in touch with and live from our own inner spirit, the sacred core of ourself. This core is deeper than and untouched by our limitations, mistakes, or betrayals.
Music, story, and all forms of art may open pathways to our inner spirit. Music that is beautiful, for example, may help us reach behind walls we have built around us and reveal our own inner beauty. Stories and art may also help us get in touch with our experiences by naming or illustrating it in images.
The beauty of all forms of art may also call us to gratitude for its presence, to hope we may uncover our own inner beauty, to glimpse the beauty in others, and to invite and challenge us to live from that beauty.
May you continue the journey to your sacred core, and find a home there. May you uncover your own authentic gifts and share those gifts with others.
Norman King, February 20, 2023