I have to say, when this image emerged this morning, I was wondering where on earth it came from. But I've kind of decided that this is what prayer used to look like for me -- and I think it captures what people fear about meditation: that they'll go into that inner room of the heart, and that it will be dark and barren; that God is the great interrogator, and you'll be forced to face all your sins and weaknesses.
... and I can't deny that there are days when it looks a bit like this: the dark, the clammy walls, the hint of fires to come that will give no warmth, the shoulds glaring down at us from some lofty perch...
But I suspect this is the cave where, not God, but the Superego -- that critical entity we internalized as young children -- lives. The good news is, this is not God, this is not where He lives -- though, because the Divine is everywhere, He can be there if you're stuck there and you need Him. Bottom line? You don't have to go there.
For me, the Divine, when I'm really feeling attuned, does not confine, but opens; is not contained but free; is not dark but light; is not gray but full of color; is not cold but warm, is not hard but soft and inviting, like a mother's embrace; is not critical and punishing but accepting and supportive.
That said -- maybe it's good to give some imaginal shape to this room. Maybe that means next time we wander in we'll notice where we've gone, and step outside again. Or maybe, in the heat of the moment, when we're tempted to say or do something we know we'll regret later, we can step inside, kneel down and press our foreheads to the cool stone floor and pray the chill will dampen the fires of temper. Because -- do you see it? What looks like water, flowing under the light? I think that's forgiveness -- and I believe it's everywhere, even here.