this tuesday’s post will be full of cliche, but hey, sometimes things are cliche for a reason 🙂 to balance it out, i’ve used only my own original photos 🙂
.the fifth tuesday we talk about family.
family gives you a sense of “spiritual security,” says morrie schwartz. the first definition of the word spiritual is in fact to describe things that relate to the human spirit as opposed to material or physical things, rather than the religious definition that many might consider first. this is interesting to me, because often in the christian religion the family structure is used to describe the most sacred of relationships. the mother mary, god our father, treat every man as your brother, and so on. this probably points to why having a sense of family, and thus spiritual security, is so essential for our well being.
that family, of course, does not have to be made by blood; the bonds of love create all kinds of families. (for healthy families to continue, in fact, progeny cannot be made between those already related by blood.) consider referring to your colleagues as your “work family.” you wouldn’t describe them this way if you didn’t feel extremely close and bonded to them, if you didn’t feel that support was given and received in return.
sometimes it isn’t what’s happening inside but what’s happening outside that bonds us together. as they say, “nothing unites like an outside enemy.” i have seen this be the case in american politics recently, where the bond can clearly extend beyond shared views to a security and support system that some feel they aren’t finding in their own homes. (thank you to psn.) for some it’s enough just to feel part of something bigger than yourself. but for whatever reasons we each can offer that we are bonded to the groups we define as family, it remains the place you turn when your spirit feels most vulnerable. family is what keeps you rooted to the ground, able to stand strong in the wind, the origin and the destination of the greatest love there is.
“love each other or perish.” -w.h.auden
.the eleventh tuesday we talk about marriage.
while blood undeniably binds you, so does marriage. your married partner is thus the most important family you choose. in marriage, says morrie, “you get tested. you find out who you are, who the other person is, and how you accommodate or don’t.” he feels there are four crucial components to success in this relationship: respect, compromise, openness, and shared values. the biggest of those values being “the belief in the importance of your marriage.” well in my 2.5 months of expert opinion, i think he hit this nail on the head.
in fairness, any long term relationship is hard. but dang, marriage is hard. i’ll offer the oft repeated “anyone who says otherwise is lying,” because, they are. of course it’s also wonderful. it’s amazing to feel that sense of spiritual security in another person who you have promised to work with for life. someone who you believe will do their best to maintain those four crucial components, and who will support you in doing the same.
family isn’t always easy. marriage isn’t always easy. but as long as we find it easy to love each other, even if not always easy to like each other, we will figure it out. and a key component to loving no matter what, is…
.the twelfth tuesday we talk about forgiveness.
“forgive yourself before you die. then forgive others” (morrie). this too, isn’t always easy. actually if this one were easy, family and marriage would probably be a lot easier, too. but, like all difficult tasks, it’s worth it. forgiving does not mean that the wrong was ok. it does not mean forgetting, for then we wouldn’t take the lesson with us so that we can do better next time. but forgiving does allow us to let go of the pain and anger and resentment that only keep ourselves trapped. “resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill your enemies” (nelson mandela). our happiness is our duty, and it’s hard to be happy with poison in your blood.
bryant mcgill said “there is no love without forgiveness and there is no forgiveness without love.” it takes practice. but the better we become at one, the better we become at the other. in a spiritually secure place, like in the loving bonds of family and marriage, we can work to perfect it. and when we know we’re putting in the work, with respect, compromise, openness, and in line with our values, we make room to live our greatest possible life.