Now, here’s the confession I mentioned earlier; I’m somewhat relieved to get around to it sooner than later! Truth to tell, Sister Perpetual Hope seems kinda alive for me, and I kept wanting to explore her more and didn’t want to hit the brakes! But it’s time to end this string of words…
This is not a true story.“Sister Perpetual Hope” is an imagined character in an imagined story. She’s an invention – a fictional character that ‘appeared’ to me when I was mulling the idea of writing a fictional novel in Italy, on a train. There, I’ve said it! I could go on inventing how She made several costume changes as she followed her erstwhile lover David Preston in disguise for thousands of miles to Rome; to the climatic scene on top of the hundred worn stone steps of Saint Paul’s, where she anxiously reveals herself and her love for him, and yet – in the end – turns and walks away, across the ancient stone terrace into the candle-lit Basilica, back into the enveloping arms of Mother Church.
There’s no such thing as a ‘true’ story, but I hope you enjoyed this one, and will forgive my slight of hand in its telling! In truth, she was me in search of myself, and one of the ways I felt compelled to explore in my own search back then; she gave me- indeed, she was, – a shovel to dig into a fecund, new garden; on some dark nights of the spirit, she was a pick axe!
The idea of “Sister Perpetual Hope” dawned on me as I sat on that train to Padua writing my first novel which I called “The Last Ideal.” It was to be my one and only work of fiction exploring the thesis that “We get what we want”. A thrice hand-written, 400 pager which I was to labor over for the next four years, on and off.
That inner dredging now resides in a moldering paper box in deep storage at a friends’ house high in the California Sierras.
Indeed, I’m grateful for that “Sister Hope” who seemingly followed me everywhere, ate with me and sat with me in my mind day and night. While I wrote her story, we were inseparable. I took her with me to Venice, then Greece and Athens and finally to England, London and the Cotswolds where I finished the whole story – without the understanding I sought at the time, but with a sense of renewed direction in my search.
So while there really was this man names “Jack”, there never was that woman named “Sister.” And in both cases they’re entirely conceptual now, in the invented or remembered telling of them in storyform. Like all stories conceived verbally by the mind and stored conditionally by the brain, as fragments in memory, they’re a vaguely etched recollection that can only ever keep telling a story… about a story. Words about words. Words with or without, our longed for happy ending.
So it seems important to recognize how our minds create stories about reality. About what’s really happening. Stories that we may enjoy and even find edifying and useful or boring, but at least entertaining. For a while anyway. We enjoy those long, long storytales like those of Shakespeare even while we “strut and fret our hour upon the stage, and then are heard no more.”
At bottom, stories cannot and will not ever provide that which alone can make us truly happy and content. Seeing that, knowing that, we may find our self in a profound and story-less abiding. An aware dwelling in the Oneness of our born and unborn nature. A residing in our natural self which is nothing less than the infinite peace and freedom we know our self to be.
CONJURING A BELIEVER
Believing our stories conjures a believer. It’s only when we see this fictional, mind-made STORY OF MY LIFE with loving awareness, and embrace it fully, that we can recognize our impersonal, timeless being. The Sister and I traveled all over in the self-same search for the truth; indeed, she was only an idea in my head that helped me in my own apparent search for what I thought was an Ideal which would finally make me happy. “Sister Perpetual Hope” was yet another of my teachers, albeit only in my imagination, and I am grateful for how “she” helped me explore and expand my inner searching at the time.
Let’s fast forward to now, and finish this little story-telling with this invitation to go beyond it:
“To awaken is to awake from our story telling in the present moment.”
Meet yourself as empty awareness lovingly watching itself – its storied creations, events and imaginings – coming and going in consciousness, and you will know perpetual peace.
That’s the end of the story. 🙂