“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”
— Thomas Merton
It's freezing outside, but the sun is shining brightly and I'm home and avoiding doing the mundane things on my list today. T bought me a copy of Thomas Merton's New Seeds of Contemplation the other day at the library when I spied it on the rack of books they were getting rid of for only a dollar. Maybe it's this weather that is breeding the need for my soul to hibernate and wander my interior rooms (hey, I am Anima Sola, after all). I suspect it is so much more than that. It's the consistent longing I have been feeling while sitting in my Sunday pew, the vague loss of vitality and a sense of invisibility that sometimes comes over me. I imagine whispers and fingers pointing: "See that one, yep, she's so-and-so's mother and she used to be married but now I hear she's shacked up with a female lover...."
But it's also the recognition of my own growth and how far I've come on my own personal journey and how that shapes my relationships and spiritual life. I feel strong, and able to endure. They'll all come around, they just need time to accept, I tell myself.
I have long believed that it's much harder for people to adapt to change — particularly the changes that other people make — than anyone would ever suspect. When your own personal changes challenge the way other people relate with you, identify you and treat you, well, you can count on some people putting up a fight. This dynamic has always been most obvious to me when I stand up to bullies (who sometimes masquerade as our friends and family) and stop allowing people to mistreat me. Maybe it's just part of getting older and sorting through the relationships that serve us and those that don't — but I'm proud of the way I've learned to stand up for myself these past few years.
I'm also not as shaken and anxious as I have been in the past when life circumstances seem uncertain. My intuition tells me that everything is exactly as it's meant to be, and everything will work out in the end. That something great is just around the corner. The unemployment that could easily seem like a life disaster feels more like a minor setback. Instead I find myself counting my blessings and cherishing the love that is never far from me.
So I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing — sink into Merton and allow the questions to be asked and trust that the answers will come — or that, in the unknowing, I will at least be content that I searched and recognized the the questions were even there to begin with.