A Spot Unpainted

There’s an artist that always left one small spot unpainted. The idea was that nothing is perfect. There was a time in the total silence of a new fallen snow that I stood alone on a hill at night looking at millions of stars. I felt incredibly tiny and insignificant in the face of such grandeur and enormity. I could literally feel myself shrinking. But suddenly I felt at one with all of it. Like a tiny anonymous dot that fills in an empty space in a painting, I not only had a right to be here, but was needed for completion, to make the universe whole. We are all tiny, but crucial parts of the whole. But the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Death and resurrection, sorrow and joy, mourning and dancing, loss and hope, the reality that all of these seeming opposites are inseparable is the paradox at the heart of life. The cross as the symbol of Christianity symbolizes this truth. Buddhism says the same thing in slightly different language. There is truth and wisdom in Buddhism, but with Christ there is also the dimension of relationship. And relationship takes you where you are and walks hand in hand with you to where you are being called. I experience the beauty and power and truth of God in the universe. But God is way bigger and more complex than I can comprehend. I sense the presence of God within me some of the time, but other times I need that human expression of the love and power of God, Jesus, to relate to, to show me how to love, and to hold my hand when I crumble under pressure

There are goodies and baddies to everything in life. If you are a mom with another career, you are beset by guilt over whether you have not been a good enough mother, particularly when your children as adults turn out to be human with all that goes with that. If you are a stay at home mom focused predominantly on your children, when inevitably they turn out to be human as adults, if you have not let go of them as your reason for being, their human problems and mistakes become about your ego, not their or anyone else’s pain. Though not true for everyone, it took me until midlife to recognize how very flawed I was and how silly it was to expect my progeny, no matter how bright, funny, talented and kind, to be perfect. None of us gets or passes down all the good genes. None of us, even with what we consider our best traits, gets it perfectly right for raising another human being with a different mix of genes and traits. That is one of the less appealing realities of life. Luckily, none of us is finished yet. And I actually think the younger generations are facing some of these unpleasant realities earlier in their lives than we did in ours. So, in spite of the discouraging state of humanity, there are signs that we are still able to evolve once we realize we need to.

I used to get my feelings hurt not only easily, but deeply enough that I cut people out of my life. It came from an unrecognized need to be perfect and anything said that implied to me that I wasn’t, devastated me. Being able to see the door because of being 79 helps a lot. I figure at this point the only one I have to worry about is God and He knew I was a difficult person before I did. It also helps, when people who tend to be insensitive hurt me, to look for something redeeming about them. I’ve found this way I can care and even make sacrifices for people I find difficult to like (including myself). 

Henri Nouwen in his A Spirituality of Living writes that possibly the main human suffering comes from loneliness.  So, it is important to develop our capacity for solitude where we can experience the love of God.  Other wise we are going to expect someone to give us that perfect, unconditional love.  They cannot.  Often this means a painfully temporary quality in our relationships.  Instead of long lasting involvements that grow stronger over time, we may experience separations and growing despair about finding someone who can meet our deepest desires for intimacy. Developing the capacity for solitude is the groundwork for creating community and becoming capable of commitment in our relationships.

 

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About Eileen

Mother of five, grandmother of eleven, great-grandmother of seven, 1955 -1959 Rice University in Houston, TX. Taught primary grades; Was Associate Post Director of Religious Education at Ft. Campbell, KY; Consultant on the Myers/Briggs Type Indicator; Presently part time Administrative Assistant/Bookkeeper for Architect husband of fifty-seven years. Blog: Laughter: Carbonated Grace

Posted on July 17, 2016, in evolving, Failure, Forgiveness, Gifts of Age, hope, Jesus, Love, Paradox, Personality, relationships, Saved by grace and not by law, spiritual growth, Suffering, Teaching/Learning Experiences and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Hi Eileen–your visit to my blog brought me over here, yaaay! I’ve only skimmed through a bit of several of your posts–as today, I’m too tired to breathe–but I wanted to say that I felt so much love here, and refreshment (in particular, “I was going to start a gang, but it turned into a book club”–LOVE this!). I related painfully well to what you said about cutting people out of your life who’ve hurt you…I’m still doing that currently, because I don’t know any other way to “guard my heart” and retain the vestiges of sanity. Anyway, God bless you!!

    • So glad to connect with you. Understand guarding your heart all too well. My experiences in being a consultant on the Meyers/Briggs Type Indicator helped considerably. My husband’s personality accepts reality, including the reality of how I am as a person. There’s no judgement behind his honest statements and no real understanding that they may hurt me. And he can laugh when I make similar ones about him to his face. He never realized that my saying those things were aimed at getting him to change!!! After about 45 years of marriage we finally each grew enough to meet in the middle and in the last 12 years we have laughed more than all the other decades. One of the few perks of getting old.

      • Great to hear that you’ve both found more laughter together in the latter years. I’m contentedly single (1 early abusive marriage/divorce)–and laugh more in the past 5 years than in my whole life. Sometimes God does save the Best for last 🙂 By the way, I LOVE your phrase “Laughter: Carbonated Grace”–that is Perfect!!

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