Saturday, July 7, 2018

Friendship


Friendship is a mirror to presence and a testament to forgiveness. Friendship not only helps us to see ourselves through another’s eyes, but can be sustained over the years only with someone who has repeatedly forgiven us for our trespasses as we must find it in ourselves to forgive them in turn.


A friend knows our difficulties and shadows and remains in sight, a companion to our vulnerabilities more than our triumphs, when we are under the strange illusion we do not need them. An undercurrent of real friendship is a blessing exactly because its elemental form is rediscovered again and again through understanding and mercy. All friendships of any length are based on a continued, mutual forgiveness. Without tolerance and mercy all friendships die.

In the course of the years a close friendship will always reveal the shadow in the other as much as ourselves, to remain friends we must know the other and their difficulties and even their sins and encourage the best in them, not through critique but through addressing the better part of them, the leading creative edge of their incarnation, thus subtly discouraging what makes them smaller, less generous, less of themselves.

Friendship is the great hidden transmuter of all relationship: it can transform a troubled marriage, make honorable a professional rivalry, make sense of heartbreak and unrequited love and become the newly discovered ground for a mature parent-child relationship.

The dynamic of friendship is almost always underestimated as a constant force in human life: a diminishing circle of friends is the first terrible diagnostic of a life in deep trouble: of overwork, of too much emphasis on a professional identity of forgetting who will be there when our armored personalities run into the inevitable natural disasters and vulnerabilities found in even the most ordinary existence…

Friendship transcends disappearance: an enduring friendship goes on after death, the exchange only transmuted by absence, the relationship advancing and maturing in a silent internal conversational way even after one half of the bond has passed on.

But no matter the medicinal virtues of being a true friend or sustaining a long close relationship with another, the ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the self nor of the other, the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Unconditional Love

Unconditional love is the invisible, dream-like landfall where we never fully come ashore. Unconditional love is a central human aspiration exactly because it is almost impossible to fulfill. We are mortal creatures of living and dying and how we love and what we love is conditional upon where we stand in the drama and the seasonality of that living and dying.


Love may be sanctified and ennobled by its commitment to the unconditional horizon of perfection, but what makes love real in the human world seems to be our moving, struggling conversation with that wanted horizon rather than the actual arrival.

The hope for, or the declaration of a purely spiritual, unconditional love is more often a coded desire for immunity and safety, an attempt to forgo the trials of vulnerability, powerlessness and the exquisite pain to which we apprentice ourselves in a relationship, in raising a family, in a task we love and desire.

The hope for unconditional love is the hope for a different life than the one we have been given. Love is the conversation between possible, searing disappointment and a profoundly imagined sense of arrival and fulfillment; how we shape that conversation is the touchstone of our ability to love in the real inhabited world.

The true signature and perhaps even the miracle of human love is helplessness, and all the more miraculous because it is a helplessness which we wittingly or unwittingly choose; in our love of a child, a partner or a road we have to take against all the odds.

Our roads and journeys of love are always lived through beautiful humiliations, through disappointments, and through forms of imprisonment: of our own or another’s strange behavior or simply subject to the seasonality of the world; the arriving weather of existence always blowing through once stable lives and many times, blowing us apart.

Unconditional love is the beautiful hoped for impossibility, and yet we could not fully understand the nature of our helplessness without looking through the lens of that hoped-for perfection. We are creatures who do not get to choose between what we want and what is wanted of us, and we seem to embody the full vulnerabilities of love only when we dwell at the moving frontier between this wanting and being wanted.

The invitation is made to us every day whether we desire it or no, to enter a deeply human world of robust vulnerability, shot through with a sometimes joyful, more often difficult helplessness; to risk ourselves in the conditional world in which we live and to accept that there is no possible path we can follow where we will be untouched by the heartbreak, the difficulties and the joys that move us and move through us.

Conditional or unconditional, the only path possible seems to be in giving our self unconditionally to the conditionality of each overwhelming, disturbing and rewarding, guise of love.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

On Anger

Anger is the deepest form of care, for another, for the world, for the self, for a life, for the body, for a family and for all our ideals, all vulnerable and all, possibly about to be hurt. Stripped of physical imprisonment and violent reaction, anger points toward the purest form of compassion, anger illuminates what we belong to, what we wish to protect and what we are willing to hazard ourselves for.


What we call anger is only what is left of its essence when it reaches the lost surface of our mind or our body’s incapacity to hold it, or the limits of our understanding. What we name as anger is the incoherent incapacity to sustain this deep form of care in our outer daily life; the unwillingness to be large enough and generous enough to hold what we love with the clarity of our whole being.

What we have named as anger on the surface is the violent outer response to our own inner powerlessness, a powerlessness connected to such a profound sense of rawness and care that it can find no proper outer body or identity or voice, or way of life to hold it.

What we call anger is often simply the unwillingness to live the full measure of our fears or of our not knowing, in the face of our love for a partner, in the depth of our caring for a child, in our wanting the best, in the face of simply being alive and loving those with whom we live.

Our anger breaks to the surface most often through our feeling there is something profoundly wrong with this powerlessness and vulnerability; anger too often finds its voice through our inability to speak, but anger in its pure state is the measure of the way we are made vulnerable through love in all its specifics.

Anger turns to violence and violent speech when the mind refuses the vulnerability of the body in its love for all these outer things - we are often abused or have been abused by those who love us but have no vehicle to carry its understanding, who have no outer expression of their inner care. In their helplessness they turn their violence on the very people who represent this inner lack of control.

But, anger truly felt at its center is the essential living flame of being fully alive and fully here, it is a quality to be followed to its source, to be prized, to be tended, and an invitation to finding a way to bring that source fully into the world through making the mind clearer and more generous, the heart more compassionate and the body larger and strong enough to hold it.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

On Courage

Courage is what love looks like when it is tested, by the sometimes overwhelming everyday necessities of being alive. Courage is a word that tempts us to think outwardly, to run bravely against opposition, to do something under besieging circumstance, and perhaps, above all, to be seen to do it in public... to show courage. Courage is the measure of our heartfelt participation with life, with another, with a community, a work, a future.


To be courageous, is not necessarily to go anywhere, or do anything except to make conscious those things we already feel deeply; and then to live through the unending vulnerabilities of those consequences. To be courageous is to seat our feelings deeply in the body and in the world: to live up to and into the necessities of relationships that often already exist, with things we find we already care deeply about - with a person, a future, a possibility in society, or with an unknown that begs us on and always has begged us on. 

Perhaps, this could be more accurately described as meeting an immense storm front, the squally vulnerable edge that overwhelms fearful human beings; and which seems to overpower us through various forms of helplessness like unemployment, immigration, cultural and/or technological arrivals that we feel we do not want to welcome. The waveform that overwhelms maturing human beings [or society] is the inescapable nature of our own flaws and weaknesses, our self-deceptions and our attempts to create false stories to place ourselves in the world. 

This immense wave is the invitation to give that self up; to be borne off by the wave and renamed, revealed and re-ordered by the powerful flow of a world rearranging itself before our eyes. Riding this wave is the hardest place to stay, to make a world of our willingness to risk ourselves - aware of our need to be needed, our wish to be seen, our constant need for help - and inhabiting that world with generosity, luminous vulnerability and intensity. We give up our wish for constant immunity, but gain a more robust life; not as trauma but as a necessary change of season. 

This is when the spirit warrior archetype enters consciousness; the ones who are prepared to ride the wave, without accepting any fear-based aspects of this temporary reality we call life. Spirit warriors see and acknowledge these fear-based realities; and are willing to fight for those who are unable to. They protest the issues that are detrimental to humanity's best interests; and create an awareness for those who may be beginning their spiritual journeys. 

Spirit warriors are intimately tied to a larger soul group. They tend to develop an immediate bond with the persons in their own soul group. They also feel as though they have known these people for a long time and perhaps, many lifetimes. They literally have millions of family members in their particular soul group. They have made numerous soul contracts with thousands of people; who come and go, in and out of their incarnations. They are here for a purpose and they have their mission; and all of humanity benefits from the work they are doing.