The life I was living
was not the life that wanted to live in me.
My values were based on a simplistic brand of moralism
that reduced ethical life
to making a list, checking it twice,
against an index in a catechism book of sins,
trying very hard not to be naughty but nice.
Trying to live up to
someone else’s dictates
or to live by some abstract religious norms,
I stopped trying to tell my life
what I intended to do with it;
Instead I listened for what it intended to do with me.
I gave up telling my life what religious truths and values
I have decided to live up to;
Instead I let my life tell me
what truths I embody,
what values I represent.
I sought not religious conformity,
because blind obedience to doctrine and dogma
was an act of violence toward myself,
violence forced on myself from without
rather than wholeness grown from within.
True self resisted,
holding my life in check
until I honored its truth.
Growth came from listening.
I had to listen to my life
and try to understand what it is truly about
quite apart from what religious outsiders told me.
My life never would have represented
anything real in the world,
no matter how earnest my intentions.
I could no longer tell my life
what I wanted to do with it;
I had to listen to my life telling me who I am.
I had to listen for the truths and values
at the heart of my own identity,
not the religious standards by which I must live
but the standards by which I cannot help but live
if I am living my own life.
What a long time it took
to become the person I have always been.
How often in the process I masked myself
in faces that were not my own.
How much dissolving and shaking of ego
I had to endure
before I discovered deep identity,
the true self within,
the seed of authenticity.
Today I understand True Self quite differently
not as a goal to be achieved
but as a gift to be received.
Discovering True Self
does not mean scrambling toward some prize
just beyond my reach
but accepting the treasure of true self
I already possess.
does not come from a voice out there
calling me to become something I am not.
It comes from a voice in here
calling me to be the person I was born to be.