Reality is gentle and beautiful when you lean in close. –Betty Peralta
I was practicing The Work by Byron Katie the other day, trying to see into the places where my thinking keeps me trapped in my own discomfort. In addition to applying the basic questions that most of our thoughts deserve, what was most remarkable about the conversation was the realization of how many of my beliefs have come to be from a distance. I don’t think I am unusual here. We make judgments based on the limited information we have about life, whether it concerns people or situations.
Opening up those judgments is not really a process of right or wrong as it is, lifting the thought long enough to lean in closer to the situation. Up close, even the most terrible situations have a tenderness and beauty that is lost when we look from a distance. We don’t see the beauty in poverty or war. We don’t see the tenderness that happens between people in third world villages. We just see the problems, which are deep and pervasive. Closer in, all people, even people from dramatically different realities, are remarkably the same with similar issues.
For all of my educating about the power of love as a filter to see our lives, I have for so long not had the wisdom of looking through this lens at my own judgments. It isn’t just intimate relationships that come clear when we see through our heart’s eyes, it is reality itself. The graceful place of gratitude is a beacon of this truth. Gratitude knows that everything is a gift and even the most painful of moments has a lining of light and love if we dare to recognize it.
Although it is early in the summer, I am beginning to entertain this truth inside of me , in places that have not had this kind of light shining. I am not always able to respond to every situation with this filter, but more and more can reflect on most of them as true. In fact this is a lesson that I have been learning for decades. Some twenty years ago when my first child was diagnosed with a range of delays, the first friend I made, asked me “Do you see what a gift this situation is for you?” I was too shell shocked and grief stricken at the time to appreciate the gift, but her words stayed with me over the years of my daughter’s care.
In the end, our experience together was the most gentle and beautiful teacher I could have ever asked for. Maybe we are all really given exactly what we need, you just have to lean in so close with your heart to see it.