The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome…
Love after Love by Derek Walcott [continued at link]
God has a strange way of meeting me, just where I am. For all the times it has happened, for all the teaching that points in that direction, you’d think I’d have ceased being surprised at this long ago. I have not.
On Saturday, having acknowledged in the therapeutic community a long-standing struggle with compassion, particularly self-compassion; with the voices that haven’t quieted despite months of therapy, I am invited to sit quietly. To sit quietly, and to think on God’s compassion for us: for me. I sit in silence. Cry at a hazy recognition that this may be true. It is too much. I cannot be open to God’s love because, if God loves me, She does so knowing me intimately. Loves the parts of me that I detest. It means She wants to be close to me; wants a relationship. It is easier not to trust that I am wanted by Her (or anyone); to believe God (them) angry; distant. It feels too scary to let Her (people) in. Don’t get hurt that way. But God does not think I am lazy or not good enough or rotten. I know this. To feel it is still a challenge.
We are given the poem Love after Love to read. It names hope. It names the hope that I have for the end of my time in the therapeutic community. Compassion is something that is encouraged there. I am encouraged to empathise with the small child who was scared of her angry father, for her parents’ ailing marriage; who was lonely at school, and frustrated at a disability she didn’t feel she was allowed to talk about. A child who was laughed at mercilessly by her parents for crying; told off for panicking. I still struggle to see that child compassionately. One day, I may be able to greet her; acknowledge her; take care of her, rather than ridiculing or chiding her. Welcome the vulnerability she has to offer.
One day, I might be able to allow myself to be authentic and vulnerable with others. Not close down awareness of the affection I feel for them, lest it is thrown back at me, but express it. I might be able to look in the mirror, and be at peace with what I see.