Reading by Liz Helgesen (Download file)
In my mid life, I began to realize that it's as though we have two selves or two natures or two wills with two different viewpoints. Because the viewpoints were so different, I felt a struggle in my life at this period between the two selves with the two viewpoints. So there were hills and valleys – lots of hills and valleys.
Then in the midst of the struggle there came a wonderful mountain-top experience, and for the first time, I knew what inner peace was like. I felt a oneness – oneness with all my fellow human beings, oneness with all of creation. I have never felt really separate since. I could return again and again to this wonderful mountaintop, and then I could stay there for longer and longer periods of time, and just slip out occasionally. Then came a wonderful morning when I woke up and knew that I would never have to descend again into the valley.
I knew that for me the struggle was over, that finally, I had succeeded in giving my life, or finding inner peace. Again this is a point of no return. You can never go back into the struggle. The struggle is over now because you will do the right thing, and you don't need to be pushed into it.
However, progress is not over. Great progress has taken place in this third phase of my life, but it's as though the central figure of the jigsaw puzzle of your life is complete and clear and unchanging, and around the edges other pieces keep fitting in. There is always a growing edge, but the progress is harmonious. There is a feeling of always being surrounded by all of the good things, like love and peace and joy. It seems like a protective surrounding, and there is an unshakeableness within which takes you through any situation you may need to face.
The world may look at you and believe that you are facing great problems, but always there are the inner resources to easily overcome these problems. Nothing seems difficult. There is a calmness and a serenity and unhurriedness – no more striving or straining about anything. Life is full and life is good, but life is nevermore overcrowded.
That's a very important thing I've learned: If your life is in harmony with your part in the Life Pattern, and if you are obedient to the laws which govern this universe, then your life is full and good but not overcrowded. If it is overcrowded, you are doing more than is right for you to do, more than is your job to do in the total scheme of things.
Peace Pilgrim, aka Mildred Norman, started walking for a peace pilgrimage in 1953 and stopped counting after 25,000 miles; she kept walking, criss crossing United States six times, walking for her entire life. She carried no money, nor would she accept any. She went without food until it was offered to her or she found it in the wild. She slept wherever she could, such as a bus station or a corn field, if no one offered her a place to sleep.
SEED QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How do you understand the distinction between struggle and harmonious progress? Can you share a personal story of a time you shifted from an overcrowded life to a full and good life? What helps you keep your life full without getting overcrowded?