This shows my lack of knowledge!
In John Tarrant’s book The Light Inside the Dark he explains purgatory as the place where burdens are taken on for the sake of love.
Purgatory is a sacred journey.
This I can understand and relate to!
Purgatory is that time where we feel helpless and hopeless, but know somehow that it’s all part of the journey and that there is no escape from karma.
Purgatory is that place where we stumble around in the dark not knowing what to do and seeing no way out. Here we are, like it or not.
This is the soul work that we have taken on—though we have no idea of why or whether we’ll survive.
There is nothing to do but sit with the fear and agony.
Another name for these periods is “the dark night of the soul.”
When we can understand in our solar plexus that these times are both unavoidable and impermanent it helps immensely.
The pain becomes more bearable.
Viktor Frankl has wisely said that humans can stand most anything when they find meaning in it.
Where there is meaning we find a way to work with it.
We may not know what the purpose is, but we begin to trust the process. Even though we don’t know why it’s happening we come to believe it is serving something higher than our own ego.
As I have worked with these times of hopelessness and despair, I now look back and recognize the value of these dark times.
Here is where I have learned to surrender.
Surrender is not giving in or submitting to something lessor; it is letting go because we finally understand it is our clinging that is causing the suffering. We finally get it that it is our trying to control that has brought this forth.
There is very little in this world that we can control. But there is one area; it is to choose our response.
And this is all we need—choice of how we see, how we view what is happening, our attitude and how we will act.
Surrender is an attitude. It is a mental state of mind. Through surrender I have found there is something that lifts me when I cannot lift myself or anyone else. Each time I practice surrender I learn to trust that which is higher and greater than my own thinking and striving.
Without trust, life is really not much fun, for there is no lasting ease—only a hanging on. And often by our fingernails.
Dante’s epic poem The Inferno continues to be a guide through these difficult times in life. It is the darkness that opens us to the light and shows us a new way to live. It breaks us open.
It helps me to remember Webster’s dictionary definition of suffer: to allow. When will I allow?
When I cling to my wants and desires and try to make things happen, I am not allowing. I am pushing.
I find it skillful to investigate and question what I am hanging onto, and why. I ask what might happen if I let go. Do I dare stop trying to fix things and people—control and manage outcomes?
I breathe and let all the various scenarios play out.
What I do know is that I have no choice in the world of “what if.” So I leave that arena. What if is not present. The future never arrives.
I only have choice in the here and now.
Life loves us so much that it takes us into the dark—either willingly or we get drug there. And who goes willingly? Even Jesus said he would rather not drink from the cup given to him in the Garden of Gethsemane.
As we wait (for what else is there to do) we find guidance arises. Darkness has slowed us down to keep us from bumping into things and causing further pain. Ideas show up. Things happen that we would never have guessed.
We begin to breathe deeply and give thanks that something knows the way. It’s trustable. We can’t see it or touch it or taste it, but by patiently waiting in the darkness of not knowing we find it arises.
When the tragedy ends, the comedy will begin!
So purgatory is that time of darkness in which our souls learn there is more to life than we had ever imagined; where we begin to sense something so beautiful that it causes us to sing and dance.
Deep in our cells we realize all life has meaning and we are a part of it!
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
T. S. Eliot
And here we are—together,