War Diaries, December 7, 2022

“The legacy and horror of exile are ever with us.” Stephan Hoeller


Father Richard Rohr reminds us that we don’t need to know; that certitude is a misconception.  Stephan Hoeller writes, “The monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, in their mainstream manifestations have placed much emphasis on faith.  “I believe” (credo) is the central affirmation of much of the conventional religious mind…not faith, but a certain interior knowing liberates one from unconsciousness and eventually transports one beyond the bounds of manifest existence itself.”


What is this yearning in man to know, to know for certain?


Is this a phenomenon among only ‘believers’, or is this universal to each of us?  Is this anxiety only present in those of faith?  Is it faith that settles the insecurity or is it something else?


It’s my experience that there is a big difference between knowing for certain, such as what the future holds and then the knowing, the inner knowing that originates from within, the knowing that defines us.  


In 1959, John Freeman of the BBC interviewed Dr. Jung about his life.  When he was asked, “Do you believe in God?”, Jung replied: “Difficult to answer.  I know.  I don’t need to believe. I know.”


When you know, then you don’t have to believe.  You needn’t have faith because in the inner knowing, there is a trust, not a faith that abides but a confidence much different than the need to know for certain.  The need for proof or assurance: certitude.



Much like the woman who hemorrhaged without stopping, the story told in the Gospel of Mark, for which the question arises: was her action one of a last unconscious attempt at health when she touched the hem of The Lord’s garment or can it be seen as something else, an inner knowing perhaps? “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well”, (Mark 5:28).  A knowing that released her from sickness, a knowing that compelled Jesus to speak so forthrightly:  ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”  This is a very powerful statement:  Your faith has made you well. He never touched her, but she touched Him.  Or rather the hem of his garment.  She did not need his touch nor his gaze for healing.  So what was this confidence in her that bespoke an inner knowing in the words: “If I but touch his clothes…”?  It was no ordinary faith.  The deep humility and trust are evidenced by the Lord Himself, who proclaims: “…your faith has made you well…”


Faith and inner knowing.  Father Rohr says we don’t need to know, in terms of certainty.  And he’s absolutely right.  For what is this demand for certainty?  How have we grown so dependent upon the need for predictability?  This is one question I pose to myself during this Advent season as I prepare my heart for Christmas.  But deeper still, as I prepare myself for the remainder of my days.  What is this demand for certainty?  And what does it mean to be a refugee? Questions when explored at their root, would each indicate a need for belonging. 


With a world devoid of living mythologies, fairy tales and story, we have grown remarkably dull by an all-consuming tendency toward rational thinking.  “If this, then that” kind of approach to living.  Thinking in square meters as I call it.  It limits.  It’s agonizing and it leads us away from our true nature.  It also stultifies spontaneity, one of the greatest markers of synchronicity. 



There is the moment of decision to fall off the cliff and there is that liminal space between the decision to do so and the actual fall.  Is this faith?  Trust, most assuredly.  But we’ve grown so rational in our ways and in our habits, that we’re afraid to fall off the cliff into our own inner knowing.  We cling to a superficial faith, one supported by a tidy and carefully laid out plan for our future which repeatedly disappoints and sometimes even terrifies.  I know because I do this.  And if I do it, so do others.


How do we make our way to a living, inner knowing, where every day we strengthen our trust in that which is before us, larger than us?  To like or prefer an outcome or end result, moreover, to expect one is magical thinking.  In fairy tales, it is laid upon the hero/heroine of the story to complete a task.  And this task is never possible to achieve alone.  This task is intended to be so difficult and insurmountable that it’s unavoidable the need to ask for help. The path is thorny and complicated, treacherous and deceptive.  Clearly our protagonist rests on a knife edge.


But then pumpkins turn into carriages and mice into coachmen and glass slippers and dwarfs and poisoned apples, and wickedness abound.  The world of story erupts, thrusting us into chaos, capturing our imagination, cheering us all on to our own inner hero, our own inner knowing.


Refugees and Trust. 


These past few months have been especially distressing in ways that I never saw coming.  On more than one occasion, I have cursed this war and its perpetrators.  I have even gone to the very limit of asking those banal and foolish questions: “Why me?  Why am I suffering so?  Why is this happening?”  Silence.  As Krishnamurti would say:  “You’re asking the wrong question.”


Grace, my helper, the tremendous, loving kindness of the presence of those beings in the spiritual world, my guardians, lead me into a deeper inner knowing and one that recognizes this status of being a refugee which is really, ultimately, all of us.  To trust the path toward home again.  To know, an inner knowing that we belong to something bigger, more vast, eternal and cosmic.


If we find a home within ourselves, can we be anywhere, living under any circumstance? Can we somehow access the inner knowing of St. Paul, who knew that nothing can separate us from God’s love even in the middle of the most fiendish storm?


It doesn’t always feel like love though; amidst estrangement, war, aggression, loss of everything, deceit, betrayal, disappointment.  But we have an assignment.  As our global demography is increasingly challenged by the forced migration of people running from war, civil unrest due to food shortages and contaminated water and climate anomalies, it is imperative for those of us in a more privileged and settled situation to steel ourselves in trust to a greater presence, to train ourselves in compassion and be available in service to those in need.  We have to start helping each other.  We must be the one who changes, the one who accepts God’s promises in spite of the world indicating otherwise. 


The task here at The Cross Border House is to continue to support each other and to co-create an atmosphere of love, tolerance and acceptance.


The children are downstairs painting Christmas tree ornaments and making origami lanterns.  Light and beauty.  Gala and Jordan spear head this project.  Yulia is taking pictures, and all are in high spirits.  They, too, are preparing.  In this case, for the coming of the tree. 


There are so many things I wish to share; the most significant is a letter that only recently surfaced written by Paul’s Uncle Jan, who wrote it upon hearing the death of Paul’s grandmother in 1942.  She died in Wójcza, thirty minutes from here.  He wrote a detailed account of his journey by train and carriage, the surroundings and then a detailed portrait of this childhood wonderland and all its inhabitants, including Paul’s mother.  A time gone by.


He was a refugee of WWII, separated from his family in Poland until the last decade of his life.


From the The Letter, by Jan Rostworowski.


The House


On the right of the house a rough tree trunk leans,

Almost merging with the wall.  A huge lime tree

One bough hangs low and on it we children.

Under the watchful eye of the terrified nanny,

Would swing heavenwards, so we named it the cradle

So close were we then to heaven,

Closer than an adult who keeps asking

What undiscovered power is to be found up above.

Until finally he is enlightened,

That it is in children that the answer to the riddle can be found.” 


Jan Rostworowski, 1942