Sunday, April 25, 2010

the country they call life

God speaks to each of us as he makes us, then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall, go to the limits of your longing. Embody me.

Flare up like flame and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final. Don't let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life. You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

"Gott spricht zu jedem…/God speaks to each of us…"
from Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, by Ranier Maria Rilke, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Loving Enemies

A clip from Steve Goodier, of '3 Minute Learning':


A knight returned to his castle at twilight. He was a mess. His armor was dented, his helmet askew, his face was bloody, his horse was limping and he listed to one side in the saddle. His lord met him at the gate, asking, "What has befallen you, Sir Knight?"

Straightening himself up as best he could, he replied, "Oh, Sire, I have been laboring in your service, robbing and burning and pillaging your enemies to the west."

"You have been what?" cried the startled nobleman. "But I haven't any enemies to the west!"

"Oh!" said the knight. And then, after a pause, "Well, I think you do now."

What about you? Enemies to the west? Or the north, the south or the east? None of us will calmly sail through our lives in perfect harmony with everyone we meet. And though most conflict can be resolved along the way, and most of our bruised relationships can eventually be healed, some passionate issues may threaten to drive a permanent wedge between people. Heartfelt moral and political stances, especially, can polarize folks who just as passionately hold differing positions. Former U.S. Ambassador Claire Booth Luce once observed: "I don't have a warm personal enemy left. They've all died off. I miss them terribly because they helped define me."

So-called "enemies" can serve a valuable purpose. If we let them, they can teach us about ourselves. By holding a mirror before us, they can help us see what we may have missed. By disagreeing with our heartfelt convictions, they can sharpen our points of view. And, if we allow it, they can unwittingly help us practice strength and compassion in the face of criticism.

If enemies cannot become friends, they can become teachers. If we listen, they will teach us what our friends cannot.


My main spiritual teacher used to talk about relating to our enemies, and I resisted.
I thought, "if I have enemies, I am doing something wrong."
Now, fortunately and sadly, I know differently. Sometimes they 'just comes.'

One time my Partner Michael ordered breakfast in the South.
When it arrived, he asked about the grits.
 "Honey, you don't order grits, they 'just comes.'

And so do enemies,
and it helps if I name it and accept the reality of it.

I have found what Steve Goodier says above, about enemies, to be true.
And what Jesus said to be true, as well - according to Luke 6:
But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Although I must admit, I had to learn better what love is, and how to be more comfortable in my own skin, before I could even begin to really understand what Jesus was saying...

Life is complicated. I have found that somrtimes:
* I love those whom I hate, and I hate those whom I love.
* My friends become enemies, and my enemies become friends.
* My friends Act like enemies, and my enemies Act like friends.
The game is pretty complex... and life is long, roles change.

I have found, for many reasons more than are quickly covered in this post,
the dance of enemies is a blessing (often uncomfortable),
as well as a fantastic opportunity for healing and learning!

Hope you are enjoying your dance!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

crucified between the opposites

A great quote for Holy Week:

"There can be only patient endurance of the opposites which ultimately spring from your own nature. You yourself are a conflict that rages in itself and against itself in order to melt its incompatible substances, the male and the female, in the fire of suffering and thus create that form which is the goal of life. Everyone goes through this mill, consciously or unconsciously, voluntarily or forcibly. We are crucified between the opposites and delivered up to the torture, until the reconciling third takes shape. Do not doubt the rightness of the two sides within you and let whatever may happen, happen. The apparently unendurable conflict is proof of the rightness of your life. A life without intercontradiction is either only half a life or else a life in the beyond which is destined only for angels."
- C.G. Jung, in a letter to Frau Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn