To belong to a community is to begin to be about more than myself...No work is enough to satisfy the human soul. Only the satisfaction of having touched another life and been touched by one ourselves can possibly suffice. Whatever we do, however noble, however small, must be done for the sake of the other. Otherwise, we ourselves have no claim on the human race.
Friendship requires leisure. This fine cultural form cannot survive without the time and leisure that are its lifeblood. I love the East Indian custom of standing next to someone in silence, probably just a step in back of him or her, if you wish to make friends. Silence, waiting, time, respect for another's space–these are the elements of friendship.
~from LYING WITH THE HEAVENLY WOMAN by Robert A Johnson
And she began,
"I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own,
And I know that the Spirit of God is the brother of my own,
And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and
the women my sisters..."
She looked at him, his eyes dewy, hugging himself, as if he were being filled to bursting. He was too different to be accepted by anyone but another living oddity. She had to put her love somewhere, or it would dry up. Maybe that's what love is– walking willingly into the unknown for the sake of the other. The sheen in his eyes told her he absorbed it like a thirsty desert.
The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, not the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.
Sometimes compassion compels us to confront, sometimes to cajole, sometimes to be silent and wait, sometimes to do or say what it would never occur to our egocentric self to do or say, for we can never say for certain in advance just how compassionate love may prompt us to act, to see, and accept within ourselves and others. Yet, in our willingness to recognize and go forth to identify with the preciousness of ourselves and others in our collective frailty, we discover our contemplative community in the intimate texture of our daily interactions with one another.
Sheltering. That's a wonderful word. Very strong. I remember a wonderful little phrase that says a faithful friend is a sturdy shelter. We need shelters in life. We need sheltering from our parents when we are young. We need the shelter of good friends. I feel as if that's something we're really called to be for one another – is shelter.
Teilhard de Chardin says that the universe will be "unified only through personal relations." It will become one only under the influence of love. Teilhard calls this the "amortization" of the universe, the healing of the world by loving. Only love has the capacity to transform the individual parts of our lives and world into a living cum-unus. Nothing else can do it. . . "Love," says Teilhard, "is the most universal, the most tremendous and the most mysterious of the cosmic forces." How much truth and energy are we losing, he asks, by neglecting our "incredible power to love"?
The secret of creating peace is that when you listen to other people you have only one purpose: to offer them an opportunity to open their hearts. If you can keep that awareness and compassion alive in you, then you can sit and listen for an hour even if the other person expresses wrong perceptions, condemnation, and bitterness. You can continue to listen because you are protected by the nectar of compassion in your own heart. Keeping your awareness keeps you safe in your own peace.
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