Chronicles from an Island – Part 1
January 6, 2011 § Leave a comment
“It’s not over until love happens.” Byron Katie.
The kindling needs to be chopped, the fire needs to be stoked. There’s no electric heat in here, and there’s a constant need to tend the fire, this little cabin’s only source of warmth.
There is something about the presence of a wood-burning stove to put the rest of life on hold.
These days I struggle with thoughts about justice, about how whatever was done wrong must be made right. I struggle with how to make my amends where they are due, with how to move with an open heart when before it was closed, with how to repair a heart that has been broken, and with how to open it when it remains as stuck as an oyster shell in the sand. I move towards forgiveness in this New Year, full of promise. I have the sense of a humanity moving towards a higher consciousness, and I see the proof all around me.
It’s easy (and often logical) to put the blame of our struggles on the shoulders of someone from our past. We want people to be accountable to us, we want our credit where it is due, we long to be affirmed through the actions of others that we matter. Some people wait their whole lives for restitution. Some people carve out a moment of every day imagining what their lives could have been had so-and-so never wronged them, never ignored their pain, never lied, never…
I say (if only a reminder to myself), in this incredible year, in this incredible life, we give up the need that people of our past understand, apologize, make it up to us, make it right, or give back what feels to be rightfully ours. It is, of course, always important to ask. Sometimes it comes through; at other times we can assume, most likely, it will never happen. What if we saw these people, not as wrong-doers, but as forces of nature, like a strong wind (or hurricane, depending on your circumstances), a flood, a bold of lightning, or a dog that bites? Some people are our very own natural disasters! (Lucky us!) Sometimes, let’s admit, we are that earthquake that others fear. Can you be a tidal pool when you are a tsunami? No one can.
Maybe these “forces of nature” are only messengers, asking us to become more accountable to ourselves, to love and respect ourselves more, and most of all, to know ourselves more deeply. Ancient Greek philosophers equated the very definition of loving someone with knowing someone. Knowledge and love were inseparable. Perhaps unconditional love and self knowledge are equally interdependent.
What compelled us to share that bottle of wine with a thunder storm? Are you still getting drunk with a hurricane? Forgiveness can only happen when our boundaries have been securely restored. Forgiveness happens from a place of safety and distance and repair. The next time you see those clouds on the horizon, don’t invite them in for tea. Forgive the storm when you’re no longer in it, don’t stand in the rain getting pummelled.
What if we stopped waiting for other people to make us whole? I say, in this year 2011, we shift the locus of power from the outside back inside, back into our own hearts. From this place we can open to a friendly universe and a natural justice that holds us beyond that which we can ever calculate. We open up to an abundance that is our birthright: What we are made for; what we are made of.
The tide rises and falls each day and there is nothing we can do about it. The weather moves from rain to snow to sun, and it’s all for us, we are a part of it, we are included. We’re on the guest list forever. Can you feel this moment? It’s the only restitution there ever is. The support of your back on the chair, your feet on the wood floor. It’s the generosity of a gentle, giving world that never gives up on us. How could we (and by we I mean I :)) have ever seen it otherwise? Are you humbled by the realisation of how much you are loved, in every second of every day, by the knowing that it has always been this way and always will be, and there is nothing –just like the tide- that you can ever do about it.
I return to my cabin from a few days in the city. Everything is exactly as I’ve left it, waiting for it knows-not-what – humble presence, simple and kind. My belongings — tea cups, pillows, tables, couches and bedding — like the sun and the moon and the sea are so unshakably loyal, faithful and trustworthy. They waited as the fire burned to embers and then ashes; waited as the heat slowly moved out through the cracks in the doors and windows, out through the un-insulated pan abode walls. They stuck around when freezing winds chilled the cabin completely. In their absence of judgement, they didn’t care or even notice. They are here until they’re not, and there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s only when I step through the door, and into this frosty cedar-smelling little house that my things seem to know they have a purpose beyond their inherent stillness and humility. They were waiting for me to come home — home to love.
* I want to thank and acknowledge Yaakov Rosenthal for the inspiration for many of the ideas in this post. http://www.yaakovrosenthal.com/