Why we are here

brooklyn bridge

“When it was dark, you always carried the sun in your hand for me.”
~ Seán O’CaseyThree More Plays: The Silver Tassie, Purple Dust, Red Roses For Me

I decided to re-post this piece today, five years after it was originally published. It’s one of my favorites, and one of the most read posts. There’s a loving, wise voice in it I needed to hear. It speaks the truth, yet does it gently, softly, with great kindness. 

There doesn’t seem to be a shortage of difficult moments in anyone’s life, and all too often, hardship makes us put up walls, and arms us with rigid thoughts and words and actions.

Our wisdom becomes a weapon – when it should be light…an embrace, a joy to be generously shared. 

What is most beautiful inside us, and what we should be most protective of – our feelings, the things and beings we love, the things of the soul – end up starved, and half-withered, if not entirely ignored and removed.

In our quest to address immediate, practical matters, we seek to be so right, and end up so wrong. We forget who we really are, why we are here. And these things we can not forget.

* * *

Trust. Forgiveness. Love.

Such big words for such simple things that should never be heavy. And yet they are made heavy by pain, guilt and fear.

Heavy because we struggle with them as we scout for merit both within and outside of ourselves. Are we worthy enough? Is this one or that one worthy enough?

Thousands of books have been written on how to live with these big words and use them. Nothing I can say will add to the instructions already available elsewhere.

But I would like to share these thoughts…

That regardless of our sins or sufferings, in order to trust, forgive and love, it seems to me we must learn to step back and think slowly. Deeply. Gently.

If we want to trust, forgive and love someone, we must trust, forgive and love ourselves enough to both receive and give.

If all we choose to embrace is a sense of unworthiness, no disguise of pride, success or strength will ever hide our betrayal of ourselves and of life itself.

It does not matter who or what is responsible for our actions and choices. The details of our settling are but different masks on the same devil.

We should notice, and allow the understanding, that life is both short and precious. That we are not outcasts in this life, but guardians of something sacred. That we are here to neither prove our worth nor destroy it. That we are here to accept it and honor it – with both acceptance and use.

Trust, forgiveness and love are not available because we are wiser or better than another. Or else missing and impossible because we are flawed or have failed…because another is flawed and has failed.

These are not acts or thoughts…they are a way of life. And we can only live if we keep an open heart before, during and especially after the worst of storms. Pope John Paul II said it so well: “The worst prison would be a closed heart.”

Sometimes, the big words seem impossibly heavy. We may feel so undeserving of their light. Or see another as undeserving. And while it does not mean we accept or agree with what is wrong and hurtful, we can only afford one judgment, one truth: that we are not here to fill a void but to learn more about what is already there, and add to that.

And because we are not empty, but filled with a sacred mystery, we need another…we need to be fully witnessed and witness in return, so that we can share with each other what we each see that the other does not; so that we may grow in ways we never imagined for ourselves alone.

And that means we need to trust and be trusted, forgive and be forgiven, love and be loved.

And another thing.

We’re getting so old are we not? Too old to not trust, forgive and love even with shyness, uncertainty, and tender hesitation. Even with doubts, even through veils of bitter guilt or tears from the past. There is always a smile and hope if we allow them.

And that is why we are here. To smile and to hope. To make the big words smaller, simpler, lighter.

“There is always something left to love. And if you ain’t learned that, you ain’t learned nothing…Child, when do you think is the time to love somebody the most? When they done good and made things easy for everybody? Well then, you ain’t through learning – because that ain’t the time at all. It’s when he’s at his lowest and can’t believe in hisself ’cause the world done whipped him so! When you starts measuring somebody, measure him right, child, measure him right. Make sure you done taken into account what hills and valleys he come through before he got to wherever he is.” 
Lorraine HansberryA Raisin in the Sun

(this post was originally published on 4/10/2013)

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Sheila says:

    The best yet little sister. I cried!


  2. siddharth says:

    we are here because we think. and when we stop thinking then we are not here…..


  3. Carlee says:

    What a joy to find somneoe else who thinks this way.


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