"I fled Him, down the nights and down the days..."*
Ann: Hi Richard, long time no talk.
Richard Burton: Absolutely but have been in the vicinity as I think you know.
Ann: Yeah, a lot going on, life transitions, trying to let go, surrender etc., not my long suit but an essential skill for aging, if not gracefully, then with no more scars than necessary.
Richard: Interesting that you should assume that the passage of life events creates scars rather than portholes.
Take a look around you. Do you not see things now that were heretofore hidden? Things that sent you reeling in younger years are now pretty much the stuff of daily life and, wonder of wonder, a pretty pleasant daily life. And why is that, do you think?
Ann: Because every now and then I am letting go?
Richard: Well, yes, but that’s not the main thing.
For many years you have suffered with the curse of Western Civilization, and that is the assumption of sin. It has taken you a lifetime to begin to realize that you are loved, not just by your family or for those to whom you are a source of sustenance in one way or another, but loved simply because you exist.
I can certainly empathize with this the prevailing sickness of our civilization, for I was one of its prized exponents. I knew I was a loathsome toad, preening for all the world - and praying that I would not be discovered under the fine cloak of charisma, scholarship, and drama.
We are taught to believe that, if we are not suffering, we are heedless, self-absorbed, and separated from Almighty God our Father who has a vested interest in instilling in our inmost core that we are sinful creatures so that He and only He can redeem us.
Please. Save me from the rest of the drill because you, I, and, I venture many if not most of your readers, know it well and have bought in on one level or another. I certainly did.
And then I found out that I was in fact just a silly ass without the wit to see what was in front of my face, i.e., that I was a unique soul created from the love of God and a joy to my Creator. Think of all the whiskey I could have given to the poor just by not taking myself so seriously!
And so I ask each of you to count your blessings. Not in the condescending manner that such a stricture is usually delivered, but in all seriousness. Look around. Count them one by one until you fall asleep.
(Oh god, did we just channel Bing Crosby? Horrors. Oh my, we need to think about that. Not that he wasn’t a fine fellow in his way but he too needed to follow his own advice. And I gather he has something to say, but later for that.)
For now let us concentrate on that most banal of platitudes with the most fundamental truth at its core:
You are loved. You are lovable.
Inhale it, hold it and celebrate it with every exhale. Travel with that understanding in everything you do. Laugh yourself silly very time you ae tempted to become a screaming virago chasing your own soul to the gates of hell.
We are loved. We re created by love, and, with God’s grace and our own compliance, we will recreate in our own lives the honour of that love.
January 13, 2024
*"The Hound of Heaven," Francis Thompson, 1890. Richard Burton reading poem can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gToj6SLWz8Q