14 February 2013

Lent: Beloveds


Albrecht Durer’s, Christ as a Man of Sorrows, is a self-portrait. It’s reasonable Albrecht felt like a man of constant sorrow. He put it into his Christ. I think the expression borders on bewildered irony, an Oh vey! It's a wonderful work now unmoored from it’s era, by me, which I link to our swirling & transforming western culture. Even so I think Durer’s Christ’s expression reflects how Lent is sometimes ordained to feel and marked for spiritual preparation and recollection and reflection.
So what’s my relationship with the most significant people in my life? Who are they? My wife. Our children. My sister. Maybe some few friends. Maybe beloveds who lived and influenced me more deeply than I knew at the time, but now are dead. I can’t imagine my life without my wife and children. I’m separated from some whom I once held dear. I hold them in my memory. And sadly I can imagine being friendless. It’s good news I can list any people.
I like Buddha's 5 Remembrances. His 4th lays bare how I sometimes experience my relationship with beloveds: love & separation. Buddha offers them to cushion human suffering. The Higher Power does not ordain suffering.
All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.
Relationship is dynamic. No matter how I try my relationship with each loved one changes. We grow in union and harmony, or grow and move apart, or lay fallow, or pass away. I nourished my children as best I could. I still do that when I feel they permit me to. My children are no longer mine, more like beloved ones; my “my” now seems peeled away. And I'm filled with my heartbreaking, like a tearing, when I experience this or sense it. It is suffering. Am I prepared to shoulder it; to accept it and labor under its weight?
I still seek my relationships with my beloveds no matter the separation and distance and death. Thich Nhat Hanh says suffering may be transformed into peace, joy, and liberation. For me this may be so if I practice my relationship with my Higher Power. Jesus’ behavior teaches suffering is borne and transforms us individually and in community. I practice Christianity. I practice Taoist Tai Chi. I practice contemplative prayer. My practices facilitate my seeking my relationships.
I seek spiritual transformation. I don’t seek spiritual stagnation. My feeling separation from beloved ones is merely my humanity and my fallen-ness and my spiritual transformation in the dynamic union with the Higher Power. I’m still practicing love; feeling and sensing joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.

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