Contemplation to attain love
Gavin Thomas Murphy runs a website called Gratitude In All Things where he looks to Ignatian Spirituality for strength and inspiration.
It is a bleak midwinter. Sean is alone in a totally dark forest. He senses the trees before him, he imagines a massive brick wall – unmovable, unshakable, imposing and threatening. He feels a sharp ache in his heart. He thinks he’s dying and that it wouldn’t be such a bad thing here in his enormous forest maze.
As he blindly staggers around the floor of mud, moss and sticks, he remembers the last conversation with his girlfriend Anna. “You’re so self-centred Sean. You have all this money, all this fortune, and you do nothing good with it. You have a PhD and you share zilch of your knowledge. You just go around taking – taking, taking, taking.” The last word keeps reverberating in his head.
Sean thinks part of what Anna said is true, but it’s more complicated than that. Yes, he knows he hoards his inheritance and education, but he is also deeply depressed. It’s as if there’s no light inside – no spark, clarity, warmth, pleasure. He feels life weighing heavily on him. Each step is like walking this dark forest floor.
Sean wanders for several more hours. He stretches out his arms to prevent his head hitting off the trees. He keeps tripping up on branches and falling into little holes. He feels his entire body tremble, and cries out: “Why me? Why me? Why me?” The forest remains densely dim with no glimpse of light. It seems to be beckoning him to collapse and die. To end his life and let his body disintegrate into this dreamless place.
As Sean’s lifeless limbs lie on the earth, nearing extinction, he hears the faintest sound. A mumble, a murmur, he can’t quite tell. Or is it someone calling or something barking? Yes, it’s a bark, a noise he recognises! He thinks it’s either that or just a hallucination. He opens his eyes and lifts his head. It’s still dark, but the bark seems to be getting closer.
The pitch and tone of the barking penetrate his body, warm his heart, and give him a boost of energy. He pushes his hands against the ground, lifts his legs, stands up, wobbles, and shouts: “Fred, Fred, Fred!” He hears the bark more clearly, calls out again, until he feels the force of his dog leaping up to greet him. He falls to his knees and hugs Fred. He lets his dog lick him all over his face. He laughs aloud, saying “Fred, my friend. My friend, Fred!”
They are on their own and still lost in this dense forest. Nothing external has really changed. But there’s a difference – they have each other. They walk and stumble together. They spur each other on. They stop to hug and kiss. Sean makes up songs: “Fred and Sean together, with each other forever…”
Sean starts to feel alive inside. It’s as if the sun is everywhere. He and Fred continue their journey through the earthly maze – singing, stumbling, kissing and falling. Sean speaks to Fred while Fred follows his nose.
Deep down, Sean has a feeling that no matter how bleak and dim their winter becomes, they will find their source of light. He begins to trust in his newfound wisdom. He believes that, at any time or any place, they can tap into their inner sun.