waking up

“Love is the cure, for your pain will keep giving birth to new pain, unless you constantly exhale Love as effortlessly as your body yields its scent”- Rumi

I awoke this morning thinking (although perhaps it might be more accurate to call it listening, as the thoughts seemed to be in my head for me to hear upon awakening) about shame. The voice was a gentle corrective reminding me that shame can never be the way forward, that the image of humanity as a plague is not a helpful one, no matter how that image sought to turn itself in the end to one that was worthy of deep and tender-hearted compassion, received with grace by a forgiving earth. Understanding humanity as a prolific family of squirrels perhaps, as a humble part of the natural cycle (rather than a noxious aberration!), might be okay, but to follow that idea down the path of shame, where the bandwagon of scorn awaits to carry me to the angry  mob that has gathered, threatening to reject humanity as unredeemable, is a grievous error.

Shame never uplifts. It oppresses, pressing those beneath its heavy shoe into shadows of self-contempt. Many of us have been led by individual experiences to believe that who we are is unworthy. It doesn’t help that we also seem to be veritably swimming in a culture of blame and despair. ‘Just look at how horrible we/you are!’

I wonder about the backlash of shame. As it cannot lift, does it perhaps give rise… to the shadow? What does that shadow look like? Defense mechanisms and defensive maneuvers?  Mirrored contempt? Reciprocal scapegoating and blame?

Sadly, it happens on both sides, an ironic side-effect of our passion to protect that which we hold dear is to despise that which we perceive as threatening it.  So, when I use the language of shame (plague) when I fear what we are doing to the earth, I am guilty of scorn-mongering. My small mind can rationalize an awful lot of wrong-headed ideals, but I risk my heart dabbling in that place. I must take care not to move in to there. Soon I will be pointing a crooked finger at all that is broken and wrong, spewing my own version of apocalyptic doom.

Instead, I must practice exhaling Love.

Mercifully, I find that if I spend too much time dipping my toes into those toxic waters, I quite soon feel as if I am drowning, overcome by the harshness of the judgments, the woeful appraisals of humanity, the apocalyptic doom….. and I am repelled by it back to middle ground.

Where a voice whispers, Abide in Love. Let Love abide in you.  

And so, I wonder again if this inclination in me, to stand in the center, as paralyzing and ineffectual as that sometimes feels, is the very place where I am called to Be and to Hold— to behold. I wonder about that voice that awakened me this morning, imploring me to ennoble the ignobled, to recall that we humans are also ‘ Beloveds in whom I am well pleased’, only ‘slightly lower than the angels’, proclaimed to be ‘good’. Perhaps my ‘work’ then is to re-mind, to uplift, to restore to grace.

Of course, this does not mean that we/I/humanity can and will do no wrong, nor that we are not misguided and blind (our minds are small, after all) , terribly imperfect, but it is to recall our innate goodness, our lovability, and to lift that to the light rather than squash it into the shadows.

Look for the good, and you will surely see it. Look for the brokenness and you will find that too. Both are worthy of abiding love.

If I am to equate humanity to any other aspect of the natural world, I want to be filled with wonder for humanity in the same way I fill with wonder for the forest, to come alive when I come across a lichen-speckled human, to be delighted by a chattering bushy-tailed human dropping the plethora of pinecones next to my head. When crossing the boundary into the human realm, I want to Kiss that signpost in the same way that I delight in the one that announces that am crossing into any other wilderness zone. But I want to see it as more than a de-fining label, remember it truly as the wild place it is, and enter with an attitude of receptivity, recognizing the same potential for unorchestrated spiritual encounter.

I want to simply Love humanity, with all its flaws and ferocity, because it truly is a wondrous thing of wild, untameable beauty.

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