I’ve been in a contemplative mood for a few days now. Today is no exception. I will likely continue to frequently be in a contemplative mood as an important series of spiritual events near/unfold in my life this coming summer and fall…not the least of which is the potential to spend some time with the ocean with Remus.
There’s several readings today that have captured my attention. I opened a book with the intention of trying to understand my life circumstances better in relationship to gentleness and beginning to embody it more…in relationship to the hurt that I feel…in relationship to the hurt others feel.
I read several passages today. The first is this bit about woundedness and healing it’s tension:
We often feel wounded by what we feel to be the unfairness or ignorance of others. In response we could toughen our skin in order not to feel things so deeply, and become more cynical about life. Or we might just give up asserting ourselves and become a doormat for others. Or we could become hypersensitive and react against every perceived slight. All these options essentially make us the passive victims of life and there is no greater block to harmony and peace than obsessive victimhood….
…Fr. Chacour, who has suffered tremendously for his work [sic.. in peace making], told us very forcefully, “There is no greater obstacle to peace than people emphasizing that they are victims.”…
…What then is the solution to the pain we feel from our relationships with others? The twentieth-century Sufi Inayat Khan had to answers: First, there is no solution. Second, develop your heart, which means to the Sufi not mere the emotions, but a combination of feeling and intelligence that can illuminate life more clearly. A few of his sayings follow [I’m only including one]:
The quality of forgiveness that burns up all things except beauty is the quality of love.
Later in the same text, there’s more about this burning away hurt and anger with love…
As we circle around something that has lodged itself in our heart, the heat generated from going deeper and deeper can often heal the wound. In this case, the circling draws us in upon ourselves as though boiling or cooking us. By contrast this pathway [the forgiveness of Life as opposed to Love] shows us that some impressions [before it was the viewpoint of anger and woundedness] yield instead to greater wisdom. In this case, circling around the situation draws us outward to a wider healing perspective of the situation. The divine Beloved seems to take whatever pain we’re holding into another universe simply causing it to disappear. What remains is a broader, deeper understanding of the situation or persons involved.
Still later in the text there’s what’s next:
After we release the constriction caused by holding on to perceived offenses against us, we are free to see the divine intelligence circulating through all the circumstances of our lives. This is the essence of gratitude.
These quotes are from the Sufi Book of Life by Neil Douglas-Klotz.
It seems that gentleness is born of forgiveness and gratitude too. This seems rather obvious doesn’t it? I think I knew this in some part of my being…but when feeling hurt, it is hard to remember deeper truths we hold inside ourselves because we’ve been distracted by hurt and anger.
There is an aspect to this situation which I’ve contended with before in others times of my life. I am able to forgive and let go when something painful happens and I can get out of the situation and be done with it…it is when confronted with recurrent behaviors which hurt me that I struggle so much with forgiveness and gentleness. This was so in my marriages. It was so with my step children. It was so with my parents. It was so with a recent relationship also. Each were incredibly hurtful to me and were either determined to continue or just didn’t care to change their behaviors for many years. It is hard to keep up with the tasks of forgiveness because the occurance of reinjury outpaces the speed of my forgiveness.
Some days I find being here with my metamour quite indigestible. Other days, I find it exactly what I need to be a better person. Some days, I simply feel neutral, focused utterly on other things. Some days, I’m gone all day or she’s gone. That gives me, at least, space to catch up; to keep things positive for us all…to be capable of seeking the lightness in my life and heart.
One of the things which is hard is to see how this situation haunts my friendship and love for Remus. It is there all the time like a cloying, toxic shadow. It is hard to see the situation making him so uncomfortable too…to see him have a heavy emotional burden settle on his shoulders and in his eyes each time she returns from wherever she’s wandered off to this time. I’m sad to see that. Sad for his heart, sad for the grief he feels at the situation, where once ease and enjoyment and love lived comfortably inside him. Sad to see their wonderful friendship so changed. It is sad to me to see the pain in her body and on her face. She actually seemed genuinely cheerful on Saturday. It was something I’d not seen in many months. It was good to see. It is sad that it wasn’t because of Remus, but I am very glad that cheerfulness is in her again for any reason at all. I hope very much that this cheerfulness grows, wells up and overflows into all the parts of her life.
Anyway…this too is in my mind:
The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell