(Artwork: Surrender by Tanya Torres, Oil on Canvas Board, 11" x 14", 2007)
In the process of painting Mary Magdalene, I encountered many different ideas and wisdom that informed the way I see the world today. I feel that she guided me to read, learn, feel, and write.
In the past few years, I wrote a website in Spanish for About.com in which I had the opportunity to think and express these ideas.
One of the most inspiring books I read during this time was The Meaning of Mary Magdalene by Cynthia Bourgeault, which inspired me to read the author's other books. These and many others helped me form the following thoughts about the first step in living a miraculous life: Surrender. I had painted the image that illustrates this post, also titled Surrender, some years before, in a moment of inspiration. Here are the thoughts that followed:
In her book The Wisdom Way of Knowing, Reclaiming an Ancient Tradition to Awaken the Heart, Cynthia Bourgeault identifies four essential ingredients for the transformation of human beings: surrender, detachment, compassion and forgiveness.
Surrender is the first step in the road to the integration of the spiritual and material life in order to unify the two.
Surrender is part of the teachings of most religions and spiritual paths. For example, when the verse in the Lord's Prayer "Thy will be done" is recited, it is a form of surrender. However, not everyone understands this phrase in the same way.
For some, surrender means "if something bad needs to happen, may it happen," while for others it means "I know that God only wants what is good for me and I accept His will before my own imperfect vision of how things should be."
Surrendering to God's will is both to accept what is bad as well as to welcome what is good.
Above all, it means to not try to impose one's own will. As the saying goes "One proposes and God disposes." But there is no reason to presume that God wants us to have difficult trials all the time!
To understand surrender, we can use the concept of an angel as an example. Angels, pure spirits, perfect creations of God, do not impose their will but find meaning in being messengers and servants of God. From what is known of them, the angels do not suffer punishment from God or tests or losses, unless they are fallen angels. By surrendering to the will of divinity and being in harmony with God, angels do not suffer the consequences of imposing their own will. They don't doubt that God's goodness is perfect.
Sure, humans are not angels! For a human being, it is difficult to accept a constant state of harmony and happiness. Recent studies show that suffering is part of human evolution and may have been essential to survival as a species. It is what gives humanity the ability to experience the wide range of emotions that inform existence, and the inclination to examine bad experiences in order to learn from them.
While the goal of many spiritual paths is precisely to lessen or leave behind the suffering, sooner or later normal life sets before us obstacles that cause us pain. That is when the act of surrender becomes more difficult, and at once more urgent.
What is the solution?
Deepak Chopra, in his book Power, Freedom and Grace, offers an alternative: living with the shadow. Although the human being contains within all sorts of opposite feelings, that is neither good nor bad.
According to Chopra, the alternative is to be natural, and give yourself permission to feel without judging whether something is positive or negative. The key is to surrender to the moment without judgment.
The process of surrender implies acceptance, putting aside judgments and opening to God's will.
Surrender is to accept the possibility of good, and not imposing one's own desires when life seems to take a different path. In other words, surrendering is to keep the possibilities open, even if when we can't see beyond the present moment.
The phrase that Eckhart Tolle repeats in his book The Power of Now, "This too shall pass" is a key phrase that can help us maintain a vision of a future full of possibilities. Perhaps not all is well now, but it will pass. No evil lasts forever.
Why do I dare to write these words? Because, years ago, when I was sick with cancer and fear attacked me, and I could not look to the future, I repeated to myself, "God is with me, God does not abandon me." It was a phrase that came out of a very deep place within me, because then, to be honest, I did not believe in God.
It was only at the time of surrendering to divine will, and while repeating that phrase in the darkness of my own mind, that I could find light, and a feeling that there was a possibility of continuity, of evolution, of life.
Your life is as miraculous as mine. It is enough to know that the possibilities are endless and that this is just a moment that leads on to the next.
I send you Magdalene Blessings of love, peace, joy, health and prosperity for your life,