I am struck by the sensation of being stuck in a room in which the door seems to be inching closed. The room appears to have strange drawings on the walls, pictures or carvings, almost, of the likes of windows and doors. Not the kind you might see today in our modern houses and buildings. Sometimes they appear to be very much real to me, and I am filled by a sense of promise and excitement. But other times, I can hardly make them out, and I feel terribly uncertain what to do. I am torn by worry of letting the door slip closed, missing my opportunity to catch it, while looking at the other carvings on the walls. Hoping one might light up or betray an ever so slight opening. I want to be able to keep my eyes on the door without missing the changing walls and keep my eyes on the walls without missing the closing of the door. I know I cannot do both, but the decision to choose fills me with incredible anxiety. I am plagued by the distaste of giving up on the door for fear it had delayed its closing for me to walk through. However, I am also reminded by the images I see on the walls of the room there is great promise and beauty in letting go.
While riding my bike the other day, I physically experienced the tension of giving up and letting go. I was on my way home, and another cyclist passed me. He looked well-trained and seasoned. I, of course, could not resist the challenge. Somehow every supposedly moderate bike ride turns into an all-out race. What am I to do? Let him beat me? Pass up on a chance to prove all his expensive gear and equipment are no match for my will and desire? No sir. I pushed my pace, but the wind was not making it easy. I felt the beak of my hat lifting as I attempted to increase my speed, and the wind did the same. The gusts threatening not to test them. I bow my head and can only take little peaks beyond me to see where the cyclist is. The distance between us is increasing and so is the anger inside of me.
“Just give it a rest wind so I can beat him! I have to prove it to myself! I know I can!”
The frequency of the gusts does not lessen at all. Further and further away his red jersey gets, while I am resigned to looking sideways and down, anywhere but forward lest I lose my hat. In reality, though, lose my head. The situation was all quite plain to me. I wanted to go a certain pace to get somewhere, to get something. Something that once I got, if I did, would mean nothing, truly. I would have expended an immense amount of energy solely to prove to myself I could catch this seasoned opponent. But I was the one who determined he was my opponent. I couldn’t resist the opportunity for self-gratification and ambition. He had not challenged me; he was merely enjoying his ride on the trail.
While expending so much of my energy, simultaneously, I would have missed all of what was going on around me. Not paying attention to any of the beauty and life along the path because I was obsessed with catching the man in the red jersey. The wind, or the Holy Spirit perhaps, slowed me down. Reducing my pace to one not only more sustainable but also allowing me to experience much more during my ride. The wind was not blowing in the direction to help me catch him. It seems, then, the pursuit was not for me, at all or maybe just not any longer. I pushed those pedals hard and argued with the Holy Spirit for a long time over why I couldn’t pursue this race. What was the harm of letting me get this one? No answer and no let up of the wind. Alright, alright…ALRIGHT.
I slowed and looked around. Not much farther, and I would have totally disregarded and missed the most stunning part of the ride. A beautiful pond teeming with plants and wildlife. I was blinded by pride and misplaced need to prove to myself I could do this, that I am able and that I don’t give up, ever. I was groomed by this in sports my whole life. The worst fate was not losing but giving up. There was no way I could allow it in myself. I continued to slow my pace in submission, though, and the wind became refreshing rather than biting. I could look forward again. It occurred to me, maybe riding against the red cyclist was not my race. Maybe more so than anything I had made it up. I had manufactured this something into a way to prove my worth. It wasn’t ever something to give up on but only to let go of. And it wasn’t letting go of racing the man in the red jersey. It was letting go of racing myself. Of pushing myself to go faster and faster through my life, from one race to the next, one challenge to the next, one means of proving my worth to the next.
Quieting the voice saying “you can, you can, you can, keep going,” and simply paying attention to which way the wind was blowing was not shirking obstacles or backing down from a challenge but rather listening and following purpose.
I don’t understand love. I want it desperately, to be loved desperately, but I do not know what it is I am wanting- or if it is something I should want or even have the ability to give. Is it a moot point anyway? Can love be understood? I wrote before that reason doesn’t have much leverage against love. Is love not a thing of the mind at all? I have tried to collect data. Instances, examples (true and fiction), stories, people. I have looked up the Greek, run through every possible definition and discussion. I went to the Good Book. I ponder the Resurrection. All this searching has left me guessing in the dark. I even may have been in love, which is all the more confusing still. It is all so different, each story, each perspective, each conclusion. The Greeks say love is to prefer. But they also have like four different types of love. If it is more than one thing, it might as well be a million. How on earth are you supposed to comprehend more than one type of love when the whole thing seems out of reach? Where do you even start with discernment? And don’t get me started on expressing it. Oh, how careless we are with our tongues, loosing words as we please, thinking them only innocent. Shame on us. But can we be blamed?
“Language was developed for one endeavor, and that is? Mr. Anderson, c’mon, are you a man or an amoeba?” Blank stare and chuckles. “Mr. Perry?”
“No…to woo women.”
[Dead Poet’s Society]
“What vexes all men? What indeed…a woman.” [Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man’s Chest]
Can we help ourselves? We are designed for love. Which seems beautifully disastrous. Love, in our hands? God, please no. It is too lofty a thing, too other from our own kind. But He took on our kind. This means He left some of it with us, in us even. I cannot escape it; I have nowhere to run from myself. There is no race to win. I must let it be. Let it reside in my desires and abide, tormenting, in my sorrows. I cannot escape love, though I hide from it, pretend it doesn’t hold sway over me. It is useless. I end up not recognizing myself when I dismiss it. An imposter who moves her mouth to form words but not truths. It all is vain.
“Fiat voluntas tua.” Thy will be done.
“Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.” Let it be done to me according to Your Word.
Oh Lord, but how I fear it. I fear it more than the fake and vanity. An imposter seems tame, at the very least. The beloved and lover seem utterly wild, fierce beings with unchecked actions and desires. Uncontrollables.
“Perfection is inhuman. Human beings are not perfect. What evokes our love…is the imperfection of the human being.”[Joseph Campbell]
“Until we have seen someone’s darkness, we don’t really know who they are. Until we have forgiven someone’s darkness, we don’t really know what love is.”[Marianne Williamson]
If love is my make and the cross my model, how do I live with myself? Tell me all this time I have spent domesticating myself has not been for nought? Oh, but do tell me it has. For what good is domestication for a woman touched by God? I am she, you see. Maybe this sounds as a boast, but mostly it feels a burden amongst a breadth of beauty. Choosing to accept this is my hardest task, but it is my only. Because of the cross, this is the only true choice I have to make. Only true purpose to follow. Living the domesticated life, absent of the hand of God and absent of the cross, is all well and good in this world. It is probably a great deal more usual and expected and much less so turbulent and unexpected. However, it is also absent of the consolation of holding the Christ in one’s own arms. Being held in the Christ’s own arms. There is certainly nothing normal or usual about this, so it should follow there is certainly nothing normal or usual about loving or being loved. Though it seems much more exciting and fitting than tepidness, the question remains. How does one live with wild and indifferent love? If it is not something the mind can grasp or find reasonable at all and the heart is awfully deceptive when it comes to matters so lofty, what is left? The soul? The spirit? The soul seems inadequate for such a role. How can my poor soul bare the unspeakable pains or inconceivable joys love affects? How can a tree bare the mighty gusts of wind without losing its limbs and experiencing great fractures? It cannot. Should not, truly. Or it would be like it had not existed at all. The transformation of the wind is not only in painful loss but also in the beauty of falling leaves.
I wish I knew the beauty of falling leaves.
To whom am I beautiful
As I let go.[Anonymous]
My soul is asked to do this, to trust the beauty in letting go. It is asked to trust the wind and let its branches sway in the breeze or break off in the gusts. The soul gets to experience it all, while letting the untameable Spirit blow it about in the wildness of love. The Spirit is the touch of God. Humankind made dwellers of the Divine. Love is a thing of the Spirit. Untranslatable, though manifested through mind, heart and soul.
Thus, there is only one way to live with myself, one purpose to pursue…to let go. Then, and only then, does the slightest possibility arise of understanding love. Though, should I let myself know the beauty of falling leaves, I hardly believe understanding love would be a thought at all. I would be it.
“The madness of love is the greatest of heaven’s blessings.”[Plato]
“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”[John 15:12-13]