Monday, September 28, 2009

Lost and Found

The enigmatic ad in the weekly "Trading Post"--a classified ad tabloid, available free around the area-- read:

We tried before but didn't succeed. Let's try again and then you'll see that after all this time we were meant to be.

No name, no phone number.

I wonder how many people read that ad and felt a faint flicker of hope for a long-lost love...or a glimmer of horror that the bad old boyfriend they ran into a few weeks ago was fishing for a re-match.

My own heart did a couple flip-flops in both directions, and then heaved a sigh, with an ironic smile on the side. My own lost beloved would never say anything like "you'll see that we were meant to be" (that's part of what I love so much) and the BOB who DID and WOULD say that is delusional if he thinks I've forgiven or forgotten his unpaid debt$.

But my mind wanders to other disappointments, like housemates who left in a huff, running away from demons that seemed personified in me, but in reality were within themselves. Some have returned to own their part in our strife; some haven't yet and may never. I sit in my life as if beside a river, watching other people's lives flow past. Watching them try to run from their own ghosts reminds me that when someone trips my trigger, I need to ask myself "What is it within myself that I'm running from, by running away from it in others?"

My life before these recent years was a tumultuous rapids, thrashing through rocky passages, rarely a calm place. A deeper, slower river flows more serenely now. But it's the same water.

Along the banks of that river lie the driftwood remains of any number of relationships broken and not mended, or not mended well, or mended more times than I want to admit. Small shames and sadnesses. I can't make anything whole again, but I can cherish the driftwood. Where these relationships are ongoing, the original thrill may never be recovered--there may always be an ever-present awareness that we have hurt one another; a certain innocent trust may never be given or received again--but a gentler, deeper, wiser love evolves that I've grown to prefer. At every possible opportunity, I affirm such mended friendships as the twice-precious jewels they are. Family relationships that have been strained over the years are also the more precious for their fragile renewal, even if it's just knowing that a kind word was said to a third party.

Not just people. I tenderly play the piano for Toss, who's nearly deaf but still loves to hear the piano. But there were so many times my words to her were harsh and unloving, beyond the need for correction in her sheepherding. How did we ever learn to trust one another again, after she bit me in the face and I pelted her with cardboard boxes in return? Yet our love would not be so rich if it had always been easy. I sat in the pasture for a few peaceful minutes today, while checking fences, and Eider came up to me, gazing into my eyes with her sheeply wisdom, breathing into my breath like a horse. My errors with her were more subtle, but real. Days here and there when the water froze, the mineral box was empty, the pasture gate didn't get opened, breakfast was late, I wasn't there in time to save a weak lamb, I tried to force her to mother a lamb she didn't want. And Mike reminds me, ah, the wrongs I've done the cats...asking them to eat a different brand of cat food, bringing them to a world full of hideous dogs and sheep that surely eat cats for lunch.

They forgive me, again and again. I forgive them. Our friendships grow deeper--sadder, in some ways, but richer as well, and more comfortable, more resilient. We have learned that beyond all the little wrongs, we trust one another implicitly in the big things, including the biggest thing of all: that we belong to one another, no matter what befalls. We acknowledge the intertwining of our lives, irrevokably.

It does not take a lot of time or effort to affirm our true loves, only a heart broken and mended enough times to be humbled and chastened by our admitted imperfection. A heart softened, cleansed of expectations and resentments.

How many times must we forgive our neighbor? Seventy times seventy, Jesus says. And I add to this, how many times must we forgive our beloveds? Seven thousand times seven thousand, at least. It is so well worth it. A lovely tenderness, an exquisite gentleness, is woven deeper in my heart each time I renew my commitment to journey together with all these beloveds through this mortal life, a serenity and acceptance that this old poem always seems to capture for me:

I sat at the edge of a dark place,
Casting my nets at the far sky;
Fished for a spell in a deep sigh
That rippled and raced.
......

I sifted my thoughts through the night air,
Mended my nets by the still cove;
Knotted the strands of an old love
That ravel and tear.

I slept by the lake of the dark sky,
Curled on my nets for a safe bed;
Searched in my dreams till the waves said
That you care
and I.

1 comment:

Judielaine said...

That's a beautiful meditation on relationships. Thank you!