Friday, January 22, 2010

Blessings in the Distance

One of the many joys of living on an island -- or at least, this island -- is that a trip to the city always includes a ferry ride. Which means that, both coming into the city and leaving it, you have a chance to rest and look at the big picture; you're not fighting traffic all the way in and all the way home.

As I continue to ponder this idea of distance, I'm thinking it's not only good because it creates a creative tension -- that longing to belong -- but also because it gives us sense of perspective; a chance to examine our own contributions to the situations in which we find ourselves.

Eckhart Tolle says this morning that we need to see what attitude we are bringing to our actions. And if it's not acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm, we need to step back and reconsider, as our actions are inevitably bringing suffering to ourselves and probably others as well. And this, I think, is the function of meditation and contemplation: to give us a chance to separate ourselves -- however briefly -- from the hurly-burly of everyday life and assess what we are bringing to the picture. As Socrates said, the unexamined life is not worth living.

But of course, we all know what happened to Socrates! Those around us are often threatened by our willingness to observe and question -- precisely because we might choose to act independently, to explore what John O'Donohue in Eternal Echoes calls "the wonder of being a human: the freedom offered to you through your separation and distance from every other person and thing."

""You should live your freedom to the full, because it is such a unique and temporary gift," he goes on to say. "When you suppress your wild longing and opt for the predictable and safe forms of belonging, you sin against the rest of Nature that longs to live deeply through you. When your way of belonging in the world is truthful to your nature and your dreams, your heart finds contentment and your soul finds stillness. You are able to participate fully in the joy and adventure of exploration, and your life opens up for living joyfully, powerfully, and tenderly."

Yes, of course -- we sometimes feel our inevitable distance from the people and the life around us as a painful separation. But there is a blessing in the distance as well. Today I hope you will take a minute to sit in that distance, to get comfortable in it; to FIND comfort -- and perspective -- in it.

It's all good. And as Bette Midler sings (however corny it might sound) --

From a distance you look like my friend,
even though we are at war.
From a distance I just cannot comprehend
what all this fighting is for.

From a distance there is harmony,
and it echoes through the land.
And it's the hope of hopes, it's the love of loves,
it's the heart of every man.

It's the hope of hopes, it's the love of loves.
This is the song of every man.
And God is watching us, God is watching us,
God is watching us from a distance.
Oh, God is watching us, God is watching.
God is watching us from a distance.

Here's what I believe: when we take a minute to experience that distance, we will invariably find that we are not alone. That which is Divine within and around us joins us in the watching, mourns and rejoices with us at what we come to see, and works with us to bring a more loving and powerful way into being.


Maureen said...

Yep. It's all good.

Nancy Near Philadelphia said...

Thank you for this post, especially. I've been following your blog a few weeks now, and it has been a blessing to me.

Dianna Woolley said...

"we sometimes feel our inevitable distance ........ a painful separation. But there is a blessing in the distance......." Counseling, listening really to a beloved friend today, I wish I'd had these words on my lips at the time. We don't like separation and the pain and yet, sometimes it may be the only answer for a friendship, to rest, to separate, to reconcile. Thanks for your words of wisdom as always!