My friend Linda started her blog post this week, “Mom? Dad? What are You Doing Here?” with a quote. I will steal it. I steal it because I have something else to say about it. I steal it because, in essential ways, we are telling parallel stories, learning parallel lessons.
“Whatever your eye falls on – for it will fall on what you love – will lead you to the questions of your life, the questions that are incumbent upon you to answer, because that is how the mind works in concert with the eye. The things of this world draw us where we need to go." — Mary Rose O’Reilley (The Barn at the End of the World: The Apprenticeship of a Quaker, Buddhist Shepherd)
Love must serve some purpose, but there are some types of love for which I am struggling to learn the lessons.
And what happens when those lessons of love are lost, do not get learned? Are we doomed to repeat them? I think maybe so. But we are still drawn—days to nights, drawn like a ship to a siren.
We are drawn until the lesson has run out and so has the supply of love, until the next time. How much of the lesson will we capture this time around?
For Linda, these love lessons are getting pulled into her life with her family. I have the fortune—or misfortune—to be leaning them through relationships of choice. Not such a simple choice. Drawn by the eye, mind and heart.
And I realize that these lessons are not just ones of resistance. It is not a lesson of how to control, master or submit to them. Maybe it is the task to salvage the love from them, maybe shedding some poison or lie from an apple of lore that sours the true love we have. Maybe the lesson is to realize that we are not the poison, but the poison's leaving is almost never something we can make happen by our own efforts, virtue or even the love itself. What it's not: it is not trying to fix past relationships or just our past with new relationships. Or maybe it is.
This week, I was an uninvited but timely and welcome witness to Linda confronting the poison of one of her loves. I watched a powerful woman consumed by the lies and half truths, as she likes to call them, that built her family of origin's love on shifting sands of unreality. I saw her take leave of the lesson that she has learned well, just for a brief moment, that is an emotional home on more solid ground. I saw the vessel of love crack, spilling its contents in a helpless gush for those moments, like a loss of a kind of faith that allowed Peter, so briefly, to walk on the water. I saw her fall back to the identity of the little girl who knew no other reality than the that thought the half-truths and secrets were a normal reality.
And as I watched and listened, I received a lesson of my own. About the half-truths with which I live—the ones of which I been convinced and some that I have created, or co-created by my tacit acceptance—and the “little girl” I become when I miss my own lessons and lost loves. And even as I write this, I can see one lesson that I am avoiding.
These are lessons I will have to visit again. Will I visit them with the faith of Peter or the Peter of lost faith. I often try and keep that faith on track like someone trying to balance a bicycle by leaning one way or the other rather than by the physics of motion. This failing is easy to see watching someone else ride the bike. Not so easy to see on one's self. The bike is a lesson of the heart.