I wait, preparing to make my hasty retreat, wondering if my bucket can help me fend him off if he tries to attack me. He doesn’t move. He continues to look at my face, as if I am the living well and he is refreshing his parched lips and mouth with the story of my life. He takes time, setting aside his ego to make space for my story—and then he tells it to me as he has perceived it.
I considered this as I led prayer this evening. When I was Christian, in recognizing that I was the beloved, I understood myself as being in an ongoing process of becoming united to the source of my longing and fulfillment, to the Holy One.
As a Thean, I reocognize that I have always been united to the Holy One--not because of baptism, not because of belief, but because I am of her. What a strange and surprising thing it is, to spend one's life seeking what one yearns for, only to discover that what one yearns for has been within oneself all along.
It took thirty-three years for me to realize that my pining was not for the one just beyond my reach, who complemented me but was decidedly not me. My pining turned out to be for the one I beheld in the mirror, the one whose hands and feet and eyes and voice were the instruments of my muse, my author, myself. I am united to Thea, not because I was ever separate from her and then did what was required to become one with her, but because I am her handiwork, and my flesh is her flesh.
Tonight I prayed the psalms and was reminded that Thea's body is nothing more or less than creation. I am the one I seek, and the one I seek is likewise in every other creature I will ever meet--in my beloved husband, in my darling children, in my despised enemy, in the cascading waterfall, in the unmoved mountain, in the cocooned caterpillar. To recognize Thea in myself is to recognize her in all the world, and that is reason for pause. If I trust that my light and shadow are beloved, then it follows that the light and shadow of all beings, animate and inanimate, are also beloved.
What a challenge that is to accept. And what a wonder. It's so easy in daily life to give in to the temptation to dismiss others--and yet those others are made of the same sacred starstuff I am.
And so I wondered, long after I was left alone at Pathways of Grace this evening, what it would take to love others in the way I've learned to love myself, my beautiful, broken, vivacious, imperfect, holy self. And I wondered if perhaps I'm still clinging to the idea of a holy other whose job it is to be available to the one whose yearning runs deep, when all I need to do is look in the mirror to see where love begins and ends.