We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
I’ve always loved these lines from T.S. Eliot’s poem, “Four Quartets”.
I was an angst-filled teenager when I first read Eliot’s poem. At that time, these lines were an invitation to explore, which is exactly what I did—internally and externally. I traveled, lived abroad, prayed, meditated, went on pilgrimages, wrote poems, danced, and did much soul searching.
But, despite all the exploration, I continued to carry with me a deep longing to understand my life’s purpose.
A few months ago, I moved back to the States, after living in Central Asia for a few years. I was terrified to “come home”. I feared it would be the end of my exploring, and that my longing would remain unfulfilled.
A few weeks ago, I woke up with Eliot’s poem in my head. But, it was no longer the “exploration” that was resonating with me; it was the lines that read: to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
By “coming home”, I had “arrived where I started”. When I had read the poem thirty years earlier, I had thought of the “arrival” in terms of a geographical location. But, now in terms of my experience, I realized that I was arriving back to my spiritual home, to my true self, the self that had always been there, but hadn’t been acknowledged.
I realized that I didn’t have to go to exotic locations and climb the highest mountains; it was here all along. And, as Eliot’s poem says, I felt as if I were seeing myself for the first time. But, this time without judgment, without criticism, without fear, without a need to change or alter anything.
And now every morning, I wake with these words on my heart. I imagine that I am arriving for the first time, with the wonderment of discovery—the discovery of beauty, holiness, glory, perfection of everything that IS, that is already there.
Maybe we need to a little less striving, and a little more stillness, arriving back home to ourselves.
Here is a meditation exercise that perhaps can help us return “home.”