Close this search box.

We Need an Eraser!

Sister Doreen’s Reflections

“Only the hand that erases can write the true thing.” (Meister Eckhart)

I began to read Dag Hammarskjold’s book called “Markings” again after a long time had passed since my first reading of it. The cover page to the first entry in the book has the above quotation from Meister Eckhart as an introduction to Hammarskjold’s writings. And Hammarskjold’s first entry poem together with this quote began my ponderings.

Dag Hammarskjold wrote:

I am being driven forward into an unknown land.
The pass grows steeper, the air colder and sharper.
A wind from my unknown goal stirs the strings of expectation.
Still the question: shall I ever get there?
There where life resounds, a clear pure note in the silence.

I began to think that so often moving through life, we are faced with so many expectations, our own for ourselves and the expectations of others. We have so many preconceived ideas. It is when we can move away from these expectations or preconceived ideas – in a real sense when we can erase them and start over again – that we have the opportunity to see through to what is real or true, to move beyond. I believe that Meister Eckart most likely meant the same, that when the human individual moves away (erases) from preconceived ideas they have the opportunity to begin to create something new. Truth, it seems to me, is a moveable mystery. Once we get there, we realize that we need to move away from what exists and go beyond that.

T.S. Eliot’s quote makes the same point expressed in another way. “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” Indeed, as Eliot begins this quote, I know it is the drawing of this Love and the Voice of this calling that is that longing in our heart and soul for more of life, for more of myself.

It reminds me also of the scripture passage about now we see in a mirror darkly, but then we will see face to face, now I am known in part and then I shall be fully known. We begin to know and see, only to discover that there is more to see and more to know. To stop and think that we have ‘got it’, reached the truth is only to discover that once there, we begin to see that there is more, more to see, more to learn, more to understand. We go from one layer to another layer, from surface to deeper. There is a call always there, beckoning us on, always that inner voice that calls us to more, to follow, to come home. 

Life challenges us to begin new each day, to become a beginner over and over again.  To start something new and to trust the magic of beginnings, to make mistakes and learn from them, and to reach out and let go and to let be, to learn and to erase, to start again. This is a hard but a vital part of growing, of deepening our spiritual life and our relationship with God, ourselves, and each other. We know that we have so many layers, so many ‘skins’ inside that cover the depths of our hearts. It is a journey into “being”.

Learning to let go and let be is the secret to then discovering that nothing can ever get in the way. It opens us to going into our own depths, there to learn more deeply to know ourselves. It is there that we discover God at home in ourselves, a God that never leaves us.

Another quote from Meister Eckart written in an article by Excellence Reporter was helpful in my reflection about the need for an eraser. “Spirituality is not to be learned by flight from the world, or by running away from things, or by turning solitary and going apart from the world. Rather, we must learn an inner solitude wherever and with whomever we may be. We must learn to penetrate things and find God there.”

Joining Dag Hammarskjold in his poem called “Thus It Was,” I know that I am being driven forward into an unknown land, to that place where life resounds a clear pure note in the silence. So I have in mind now to keep an eraser in my pocket, and as experiences and circumstances open opportunities for me to move into new territory, that eraser will help me let go of what was, of what I hold onto, of what I know while also allowing me to move with the wisdom gained into what is beckoning toward another unknown goal in life. I began to think that having an eraser might be one of the most exciting pieces of spiritual practice that I have.