The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them. Thomas Merton
It seems so perfectly reasonable to want others to be like we are…to treat us the way we treat them, to see the world through our eyes, to react and respond in the ways we find most fitting. How comfortable that would be…How perfectly relaxing…How delightful not to ever have to deal with comments or with behavior that makes us feel uneasy.
The reason we interact with the world in the way we do is because our behavior is the product of our experiences. We have done some suffering and some learning and have come to some conclusions about the way we choose to live. And we are weary from the battle and desire to coexist peacefully with others in this very personal world we have created for ourselves.
The problem is that the same work we are doing for ourselves…that same task of making sense out of our lives and experiences and making mistakes and finding new ways of responding is also the work of every other human being. And we are, all of us, on our own journeys about how we learn the lessons and what directions the path we choose will take us. Thus, the great variety in human behavior.
It is so easy to question why someone can’t see what we see or do what we do…and to be annoyed and irritated by this. But if we expand our vision past the feeling of the moment, we can see the maze of life journeys unfolding and intersecting each other…each in its own rhythm and pace which may very well not be a match for ours.
If we look to the example of a person very dear to us whom we love and care for…we can probably recognize that we want this person to do what is best for him/herself…even if it is not what we prefer. Love prompts that understanding, that acceptance, that behavior in us. And, if we view this loved one as a microcosm of the world, it is clear that loving everyone is wanting everyone to do what feels best to them…as each individual navigates their life lessons and journeys…not on our time line and schedule but on theirs.
We HOLD SPACE for them while they do this and send our blessings. And when we hold space for another person, we support them but do not interfere with the work of their journey. We respect and honor others as they find their way and do not force them to behave as we would like them to. If we use the beautiful example of the way we, hopefully, treat someone we care for as a microcosm and extend it to the macrocosm of the world, we will be emitting a powerful and transforming message of LOVE as we send our blessings to every fellow inhabitant of this glorious universe.
Just as I choose to bring into my life
the experiences I desire,
I also practice
the Art of Allowing
HONOR THE PATHS of others.
Mystic Marks: Bookmarks for the Soul
originally published October 29, 2010