Everyone gets challenged in life and you can either spend the rest of your life looking backwards, or you can make a decision to keep going.Wisdom through suffering; that's what the Greeks called it. But not everyone learns wisdom from the suffering.
Some spend their lives like children having a tantrum. Endlessly berating the people or events which have robbed them of what they expected or assumed or felt entitled to. Yes, of course, we all have our wishes and dreams. We all can act with selfish ends - even toward those we love. Especially toward those we love. Which is, of course, the reason we always hurt the ones we love.
Forgiveness allows us to let go - those things which burden and chain us to the past. That, and an ability to build bridges. That's how I think of it. When disaster happens, can we find or build a bridge - to the future? Can we channel our anger or disappointment (the latter, being reason for the former) so that we don't become stuck?
Divorces can be so nasty because people become stuck. Stuck in rage against the person who hadn't come through as one needed. Wished for. Expected.
Civil wars are like divorces. Political grid-lock, same thing.
It all goes back to whether or not we're going to have a tantrum. Or can we move on? Can we not only move on but grow? Can we move into that stage of Wisdom where bridges can be seen and crossed, bridges which afford more of a bird's eye view of the slings and arrows of life? Which give us a way out. Out of those corners it's so easy to paint ourselves into.
It's a challenge for all of us. Even the saints. Who, over and over flag the struggle (against one's inner child wanting to have a tantrum) and assure us it never ends. But apparently, as the quote above reminds us, we can "make a decision to keep going" - in a good way. In a way that makes life easier for everyone. For ourselves and our loved ones. For the rest of humanity. The earth. The universe. The cosmos.
I think it involves enlarging our own ego. So that what I identify as me is more and more inclusive. That's what the Buddhists mean when they vow to save all beings. That's how Jesus spoke and lived. That's what Lux was referring to (scroll down, to The Great Community.)
Lux Umbra Dei, a man whose impact (on many of us) was brief, but whose wisdom was so deep, whose compassion so great, that we will never forget him. (His Bio said simply: Gratitude! Gratitude!) Lux pointed to that Reality, that Essence - which is also Holy Presence.
This is our task. Our mission - if we choose to accept it. (That's what the quote above speaks to. That's what Merton was referring to. What Lux embodied. This blog seeks.) That's what we need to grow into.
Something deep inside us longs for this.
As Lux longed for The Beartooth Plateau:
My favorite place in the world is the Beartooth Plateau. Hardly a year goes by when I don't visit. The wind whistles up there and the air is icy cold when a rock wall shuts off the sun. There is an upland meadow at about 3000 meters that I love especially. If you drive the Chief Joseph Highway and, reaching the pass, look northwest, you will see it: a vast table in the sky.
The tumult of this autumn never reaches that place, just the wind whistling in the little stands of trees that punctuates the grass expanse. One can look south toward the Sunlight Basin from there and see the austere peaks rising...what does it mean to them that we are entering a new age...perhaps a golden age at that?
I am weary, feeling my age multiplied by illness and responsibility, seeing the changes coming, and knowing how much distress they will cause some on the short term. But the Plateau endures and so shall our species; we are contemporaries after all, and all this tumult is so much wind, so many fleeting photons ghosting through the ringing air.