Weakness is at the heart of each one of us. Weakness becomes a place of chaos and confusion, if in our weakness we are not wanted; it becomes a place of peace and joy, if we are accepted, listened to, appreciated and loved.
Some people are infuriated by weakness. Weakness awakens hardness and anger in them. But to deny weakness as part of life is to deny death, because weakness speaks to us of the ultimate powerlessness, of death itself. To be small, to be sick, to be dying, are stages of powerless, they appear to us to be anti-life and so we deny them.
If we deny our weakness and the reality of death, if we want to be powerful and strong always, we deny part of our being, we live an illusion. To be human is to accept who we are, this mixture of strength and weakness.
Jean Vanier, Becoming Human
If we can allow some space within our awareness and rest there, we can respect our troubling thoughts and emotions, allow them to come, and let them go.
Our lives may be complicated on the outside, but we remain simple, easy, and open on the inside.
Unusually long and hot weather spell in Ireland these last weeks, after our harshest winter in decades, The land is getting quite parched and water restrictions are in place. So we, who normally complain about the lack of sun in the Summer, now complain of its presence. Another example of the either/or dynamic which pops up so frequently in our thoughts and of the constant daydreaming that things should be different. This famous koan from the 9th Century Chan Master Dongshan challenges us to be completely with whatever is happening, without always placing it beside an alternative:
A monk asked Dongshan, “When the cold visits us, how can we avoid it?”
Dongshan said, “Why not go where there is no cold?”
The monk asked, “Where is the place without cold?”
Dongshan said, “When it is cold, let the cold kill you. When it is hot, let the heat kill you.”
Blue Cliff Record Case 43: Dongshan’s Cold and Heat
The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them.
Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island
Letting there be room for not knowing
is the most important thing of all.
Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart
You don’t run down the present, pursue it with baited hooks and nets.
You wait for it, empty-handed, and you are filled.
You’ll have fish left over…
It is by definition, Christmas, the incarnation.
This old rock planet gets the present for a present on its birthday every day.
Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek