Syd to Linda: Truth is Steady
An indigo blue rosary draped over my computer clicks lightly against the screen as I type. I bought it in Czestachowa, Poland at Jasna Gora, the basilica that venerates the Black Madonna, the mother of Jesus. I made a pilgrimage there last year. The dark hush painted by the wash of light from stained glass windows and flickering votives was like the night sky, grand, awesome.
I’ve hung a contemporary metal work of the Divine Feminine on the wall of my office. I bought it at the Benedictine Monastery in the Desert near Abiquiu, New Mexico. Bill and I stumbled across that community at the end of a 13-mile rutted dirt road in the Chama River Canyon Wilderness. The quiet presence in that simple, soaring wood church calmed us to our knees.
I was raised Catholic. I’m grateful that path shaped me. I was born to an understanding that life is a spiritual gift. The icons around me reflect what is deep in my bones, alive in my heart.
When I met Sydney Banks, a teacher who showed me how spirituality and psychology are connected, he might have known that I was raised religious. He might have heard that Bill and I were married in a Catholic ceremony.
Because a number of Syd’s students had attended our wedding in Morgantown, WV, he might have known it was a long, long ritual presided over by a priest and a Baptist minister friend who had served alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. Our friend joked that when Baptist ministers sermonize, you measure time on a calendar, not a watch.
Perhaps that’s why, on the day Syd and I walked along the streets of Ganges on Salt Spring Island, he drew up in front of a religious painting and stopped in his tracks. I don’t remember much about it. The theme had something to do with different religious communities worshiping together. It made an artistic statement about oneness.
After a few minutes of studying the artwork, Syd turned to face me, his hands in his pockets, his posture casual, relaxed. “Linda, all forms will pass away,” he said. His voice was soft but clear, certain.
The breeze blowing off the harbor ruffled our hair. Seagulls sang their tenor notes into the wind, while fishy undertones tickled our noses. Judy, Syd’s wife, and Bill had ambled ahead of us. The ambiance of the town was one-third fishing harbor, one-third genteel arts community and one-third holistic mecca. It was my kind of place, inviting, pastel colorful, soothing.
Syd’s statement had opened an inner portal. I listened intently, knowing, somehow, that what he was about to say was important.
“What will be left is pure Truth,” he finished. The pause felt like that moment after you’ve heard a musical performance so perfect you can’t even lift your arms to clap. I was awestruck. Silent.
The God I searched for was pure Truth. Forms could be thought up, could come and go and be different from person to person and community to community. Truth was beyond and would survive all of that. The steadiness of God, steadied me.