I was a bit surprised to see the word “devotion” pop out at the end of my last post because it’s not something I choose to write about often. Maybe I’ve mentioned it once before, but devotion feels quite intimate, so I tend to keep it under wraps. Yet soon after posting, I ran into the word in a book I’m reading, and took it as a sign I should elaborate more.
There is an image that haunts my imagination: that of a nun, lying prostrate on a monastery floor, taking her vows. As a little girl in Sunday school I heard of such women “wedding” themselves to Christ, and frankly I thought it was kind of a strange idea. I’ve always had a big “You’re not the boss of me” streak, and the notion of submitting to the patriarchal hierarchy of the Catholic Church doesn’t appeal. But the older I grow, the more I get it. I am obsessed with monasteries as special places where every aspect of life revolves around devotion.
And let me be very clear that I am not talking about “worship.” Worship is the projection onto an externalized other of qualities you believe you have little hope of possessing. (Consider your favorite celebrities / people you most admire to learn what aspects of yourself you’ve disowned and are waiting to be developed.)
To my mind, devotion is quite the opposite. You may have an object of devotion to whom you choose to surrender yourself, but you do so as an equal. To give of yourself from a place of radical equality is an act of sovereignty, love, and fullness, not subservience, fear, and diminishment. (How can you truly give of yourself if it is demanded? How can you truly give of yourself if you are not fully present?)
But to know yourself as a sovereign being—no better and no worse than any other being in creation—requires centeredness. Because it is only from our divine centers that we can know this truth as a reality—otherwise we are doomed to uphold it as an empty ideal on the basis of legalities and loopholes. For to step even a millimeter away from your center is to step into duality, right back into experiences of power differentials that are so very real in their own way.
Devotion is that magnetic force that draws you back into relation with your center. It starts with an act of will: “Yes, I do.” But that spark of love that calls you into self-surrender builds on itself. It is the love that connects your divine center with all other centers in creation, which together form the one sacred center. Here is your true source of power.