A bowl, empty and full, and feeling my way in the darkness

I love this post by Meg Casey, The girl with the bowl in her lap. In the eloquent, wise, beautiful language I now know to expect from Meg, she writes about a meditation she has been using lately. “I imagine myself,” she writes, “climbing up on top of my mountain and sitting peacefully with a bowl in my lap. And I imagine that everything I need to know, or find, or discover will appear in my bowl unbidden.” She then goes on to describe about how this fundamentally passive and trusting philosophy runs counter to everything she’s always thought about how to pursue a dream.

This post has been rising and falling in my head for several days. For two reasons. One, because I have a strong sense that what I need to do now is precisely what Meg talks about, which is to say surrender, rest, and trust. I’m not good at these things. Not good at all. I’m much better at muscling my way through something. My default mode is effort, sometimes to the point of forcing. I know intellectually it’s time to wait and to believe. I even know this in my heart. But I still don’t quite know how. So I’m fumbling my way towards that knowledge in the dark, startling myself with the noises I make when I knock something over and bumping into things at every turn. It’s awkward, but I don’t know how else to proceed.

The other way I’ve been feeling Meg’s words is in the image of a bowl. I feel like a bowl right now myself. Specifically, like the small cherry wood salad bowl my godmother gave me for my wedding 10 years ago. I feel intermittently completely empty and full to bursting. The levels – of what? I’m not sure exactly – inside of me rise and fall as inexorably as tides though without a similar regularity and rhythm. When I’m full sometimes I feel like I splash messily over my sides because I’m not on a steady or flat surface. When I’m empty I feel absolutely barren, wrung out, exhausted in a bone-deep way. When I hear Meg’s voice it tells me to just wait, to know that a time of more equilibrium is coming. And I’m back in the darkness, hands outstretched, all the senses other than sight pricked to high awareness, feeling my way home. But this is a new and unfamiliar home, the one that calls me now.

17 thoughts on “A bowl, empty and full, and feeling my way in the darkness”

  1. You will find your way. And when you finally re-engage your vision, when the dawn finally breaks, you will be astounded by what you see in your bowl.

  2. “I’m much better at muscling my way through something. My default mode is effort, sometimes to the point of forcing. I know intellectually it’s time to wait and to believe. I even know this in my heart. But I still don’t quite know how.”

    Ditto. Ditto. Ditto!!

    The very hardest thing for me (and almost always the needed thing) is to be still, to trust, to stop trying to boil everything in life down to something I must do.

  3. Each step you take, each thought and feeling you explore, they all make up part of that bowl and you will, one day, see it all clearly. I have to believe this, because I hope the same for myself.

  4. beautiful. i too am tired of striving/struggling and want to rest in the magic that comes/reveals itself only when we open with faith to receiving her in that empty bowl. ah, the vulnerability of surrender. grateful that we are dancing in the dark together. thank you.

  5. Yes, yes, yes. All of this, I tell myself, is true. But the fear, that crippling fear. What if it never happens? What if I sit and wait patiently for it to come and nothing? Isn’t it possible for my entire life to pass by and ‘it’ never happens? And what the heck is ‘it’?

    This stems undoubtedly from my lack of faith. If there is no plan, no ‘design so vast’, who/what will do it. Mustn’t I work for it? Mustn’t I fight for it?

  6. This all rings so true for me! Muscling my way through, yes, every time. I have occasionally learned (been forced) to become still in body, but the closest to still in soul happens when I write my posts. It’s somewhere close to still, I think.

    The bowl is so perfect an example. I question it constantly: Why is my bowl empty? I’m sure everyone else has something in theirs? Is my bowl the right size? What used to be in there? What if someone sees my bowl? What if they see my bowl is, actually, still empty? What is going to be in there next? Do butterflies have teeny weeny bowls of their own? Are others waiting with their bowls ready for butterflies, or pretty pictures that I can send them? What sound does my bowl make? If my bowl and your bowl are played at once, is the sound harmonic? Perhaps I should put my bowl upside down on my head and let whatever comes land in my hands?

    Tangential thinking. When I let it happen, it is oh-so-beautiful. But it doesn’t always resolve my bowl-image issues.

    Hugs and butterflies,

  7. Thank you for the gift of your words.
    Sitting on my mountaintop with my bowl on my lap waving to you on your mountain.
    I am learning that it is a practice (takes practice) to be still and trust. Let us practice together and find solace in trusting that it doesn’t have to be hard if we can just let ourselves get out of the way. Holding hands we can surrender…xox.

  8. Hi. You write so eloquently. Its difficult to put complex emotions to words, actually to put any emotions to words sometimes. Here the bowl is most apt. We’ve all been there. Full, empty, longing,unbalanced and thats just the way it is. What we can do is watch it, observe it, be aware of it and it usually passes.
    Glad to have found ur blog. Hoping to read more. Take care and god bless

  9. oh, chica, i can sooo relate to this. i feel like i’m back in a place i’d thought i’d gotten past, fears are having a heyday, nothing seems to be changing, and all that means i do everything but sit still, with faith and a bowl, on top of a mountain. thanks for the encouragement that this post provides.

  10. Lindsey, you are a wise, sensitive woman – believe in your choices! “You must believe…” Can’t wait to hear about what your future beholds :>

  11. I think that everyone goes through this at some point, actual multiple points, in their life. My bowl is constantly either over flowing or totally empty. I do think that learning to trust, to believe and to follow is what helps level it off. It’s such a hard thing to do though.

  12. Trusting in the wait and deeply knowing that a time of equilibrium is coming…ease in its simplicity, and deceptively complex in its execution.

    You are braver than you think and can trust in your wisdom. Oh yes, the bowl’s bounty will be rich. Gloriously so.

  13. Yeah. Me too.

    I’m being forced to choose surrender these days, and let me be the first to tell you, it’s a sloooow process. It goes against my grain, too. That’s why I HAVE to focus on my slow progress and be grateful for it, rather than focusing on the perfection, the “finished” I’d really prefer.

  14. Like so many of the others above, this line resonated loudly with me: “My default mode is effort.” Oh yes, that’s me all the way.

    The idea of a bowl both empty and full reminded me of a passage from Devotion that I was just rereading last night:

    “By training my thoughts and daily actions in the direction of an open-minded inquiry, what had emerged was a powerful sense of presence. It couldn’t be touched, or apprehended, but nonetheless, when I released the hold of my mind and all its swirling stories, this is what I felt. Something – rather than nothing. While sitting in meditation or practicing yoga, the paradox was increasingly clear to me: emptiness led to fullness, nonthought to greater understanding.”

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