Yesterday, I read this:
Everything terrible is something that needs our love. — Rainer Marie Rilke
I had to read it a second time, and then again. If was as if wisdom punched me in the stomach. I felt an odd combo of pain and butterflies.
Friday afternoon left me troubled. Four conversations haunted me. I understood the frustration that the speakers felt but I didn’t agree with their conclusions. Anger colored their words and filtered into their judgment. I believed they were missing the point. The people they were angry with were also frustrated. Those people didn’t feel understood. I don’t think they are. How do I honor all of them? How do I stick up for what I believe and find the path that provides the greatest potential for change?
I’d love to have the words that would change hearts. The idea of turning swords into plow shares turns me on. I’m all about fun and good, old-fashioned farming. While practicing wonderful soliloquies in my head, the truth is that in the normal day-to-day living, my mouth does not wield great power or influence, nor do the words on my blog. Some days, it’s all shouting down a wind tunnel. No one can hear. Such is life.
That doesn’t prevent me from indulging in the occasional I-want-to-change-the-world thinking. Yesterday, I wanted to change a few perspectives. Those frustrated individuals judging others and finding them lacking were really missing what I thought was the point. Let me code it by saying, “You can’t get blood from a turnip.” Translation: Things and people are what they are. You’ve got to take them for what and where they are and not attribute intentions or ulterior motives. People make choices for a reason. Looking for that reason can crack your perspective wide open. It can also be the first step into solving a problem. Frustration often shows itself in undesirable behaviors. It often works. It helps people avoid the real problem and they are able to default in to a familiar and comfortable pattern.
The other amazing thing is that people often behave the way we expect them to behave. Judge another lacking and we’ll find evidence to prove it so. In doing so we feed our own bias, cater to our own limits and prevent solutions from appearing.
Now, I know these things but I spend a lot of my day questioning myself. Yesterday was no exception until Rilke dropped in and left me speechless.
“Everything terrible is something that needs our love.”
There, on that page, those words summed up my belief system. They reminded me what I value. They opened the door to new and more expansive thinking. They provided me with a greater connection to the Universal Love (God) that is out there for the taking. Despite the limits, the judgments, the lack of understanding, love is a power much greater than hate or frustration. There are things, terrible things that cry out for love. A terrible, wonderful love, that can feel alien and wrong. A terrible love takes us outside ourselves and asks for sacrifices few of us want to give.
The first sacrifice is entertaining the possibility that we may be terribly wrong.
As I listened to all the parties involved in this drama of misunderstanding and judgment, I understood them all. I wanted to hug each and every one of them even when I believed that each and every one was dead wrong. I did not approve of any of their choices but I could see the ground from which it all sprouted. I wanted the words to change them and to fix this problem. Instead, I listened with a terrible love and realized that I am each of these people. I am judgment and understanding. I am pain and pleasure. I am joy and heartache. I am just like them. I get mad, I jump to conclusions. I fail to understand others. I need a terrible love just as much, maybe more than they do.
On Friday, I struggled to be loving. I wanted to scold. I wanted to fix their problems. I wanted to tell them they were wrong and have them succumb to my great wisdom. Instead, I was introduced to a terrible love, a love that rips me out of complacency and throws me under the bus with all the rest of the puny humans. That is precisely what the world needs now: not a sweet love but a terrible one.