Stories & Life
Comment 1

Essential Path

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That which is essential is non-impositional, but there is no end to the demands of what is non essential. – James Finley from Transforming Trauma

He’s speaking here in terms of doing spiritual work, of sitting with ourselves, of digging deeper into the issues that are rising up in our hearts and really giving ourselves the space to process and let it be. I think that perhaps he overstates the case here. His statement here sounds a little too generalized, because sometimes essential things do impose themselves – like young children who endlessly impose on their parents.

Still, in a general sense it isn’t a bad point, because what Finley is talking about is the depth of inner grace, what the Quakers call “the inner light,” those times when something rises up from a very genuine and authentic space within. When we find grace welling up within, it makes no demands of us. It is that which does not impose itself. For that reason we need to commit ourselves to it and make space for it, even if that means intentionally breaking with the herd. This is the path of the spiritual seeker: that whatever it is that is happening inside, it has to be a priority, she dare not ignore it. Whatever is happening is essential because it is speaking to something in her essence.

Note on photo: Taken on my recent <a href=" That which is essential is non-impositional, but there is no end to the demands of what is non essential. – James Finley from Transforming Trauma He’s speaking here in terms of doing spiritual work, of sitting with ourselves, of digging deeper into the issues that are rising up in our hearts and really giving ourselves the space to process and let it be. I think that perhaps he overstates the case here. His statement here sounds a little too generalized, because sometimes essential things do impose themselves – like young children who endlessly impose on their parents. Still, in a general sense it isn’t a bad point, because what Finley is talking about is the depth of inner grace, what the Quakers call “>trip through Alpine, Texas.

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Writer. In the summers, I live and work in the incredible state of Alaska, in the bush community of McCarthy, as the Executive Director of the Wrangell Mountain Center. When not in McCarthy, you'll typically find me in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, writing and working with local activists. My primary writing project right now is a novel set in remote bush Alaska, of the magical realism genre wherein an earnest and independent young woman finds a mysterious radio belonging to her grandmother, a device that has paranormal bandwidth and a disturbing ability to mess with one's mental stability.

1 Comment

  1. I support your nuanced interpretation, Erdman. If, while you were sitting in the place where you took this photo, a train started barreling toward you along that track, I’m guessing that you would find the train to be both essential and impositional. Coincidentally, I recently wrote a scene in which a Pilgrim falls asleep on a railroad track siding, awakening to discover a diesel engine looming above and behind him, idling on the track waiting for him to get up. “Look out! (Not in.)” — motto of the Salon Postisme.

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