I am blessed in sharing life with a number of deeply spiritual people. Far beyond me and my petty compulsions and annoyances, these folks work on a different floor. I have met them in many walks of life. Some Christians. Others Jewish … take your pick of backgrounds. Some – don’t tell anyone - proclaimed agnostics though I suspect if I got a few beers in them I would find out otherwise.
And you know what I notice?
I notice a deep reverence for the individual’s journey. I notice an unwavering dedication to the work of love – “long obedience in one direction.” And I notice a a distrust. Not a distrust of God. Not a distrust of their fellow human beings. But a distrust of their own personal thoughts and emotions. Pleasant travel companions – thoughts and emotions – yes but to be faithfully and fully trusted without question? No. Get to that “ah-hah” and I think we find laughter!
This week spent time on the porch with two friends. One expecting, one there helping. And me listening. I always feel a rush to talk, to fill uncomfortable spaces with chatter. And that night was different. More conversation. Less chatter. Long enough that what started as a pleasant evening on the porch became a need for a candle so we could see each other that warm summer night.
And as with all friends, new and old, there are those tell tale signs, those words or phrases that let us know we are home. That it is ok. Safe harbor.
For me those phrases are honest, clear, joyous statements, and some tears, around us, as human beings. The smiling mess, held by God, that we are. And how we are called to be more than ourselves with “ourselves” understood as all our thoughts and all our emotions that race through our lizard brain. There is something else to be seen. Beyond thoughts. Beyond emotions. Beyond all our self-proclaimed identities. And it is brilliant.
From Thomas Merton:
In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers.
I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time.