Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Getting a do-over with the benefit of hindsight.

I've been spending some time this week with a meditation written by Anthony de Mello in preparation for the Contemplative service this Sunday. What follows is de Mello's text interwoven with some of my own reflections. This meditation is a valuable exercise to see where it leads you. My reflections are just intended as examples. If you wish you use the meditation I would suggest reading de Mello (the text in italics) and skipping my commentary so that it does not influence where your mind takes you.


The Dispensation (from Wellsprings - a Book of Spiritual Exercises)

I imagine I am told I have six weeks more to live.
I see the circumstances vividly:
How old I am...
and where...
what I am dying of.

I go through the pain of saying goodbye to life
and to each of the things that I loved 
and hated.


     I do this through a dialogue
     in which these things 
     - and life -
     talk back to me.


Have I really 'hated' anything? Life has been good to me. It's such a strong word, maybe 'dislike' would be better. As I sat and began to make a list of likes and dislikes and allowed them to talk back to me I found myself becoming aware that even the things I dislike appreciate me. One example of this was I became aware of a dislike for judgmental closed minds - the person who is unwilling to swim in the depths, who embraces their shallowness as a shield of protection against doubt.

I spoke to that part of me that dislikes 'shallow' and then I was surprised as I allowed it to talk back to me.

I will miss the challenge you bring. I was solid stone and you were water. As you passed me by you could not see any alteration, but over the years almost imperceptibly you softened and shaped me. Thank you.


I also spoke to my desires - the good ones and the bad and listened as they reflected back.


You embraced me and rejected me, delighted and cursed. I was both the fuel to your fire and the extinguisher. You never really learned why I was in your life. So much potential that was never quite realized. You are capable of so much and settle for so little....and yet our fun times were incredible and out low times paralyzingly depressing. I was the energy that helped you move and the chains that held you captive.

I notice the reactions of people to the news
that I am going to die.
I think what each of them is going to lose
in losing me.


I can't go there right now. I don't want to think of how my death will impact others. I have been lucky to have been loved deeply. I know people will grieve....what will they have lost? I bring a unique voice to the world around me.

After death I stand before the Lord.
I talk to him about my life:
the things that pleased me most
and the things I most regret.


I regret not living with greater passion. Of drinking life so deeply I am intoxicated with every breath. I want grander failures and greater successes. I want to shine brighter. I want to be me, but with an even more exciting screen play.

Now I hear God say
that he plans to send me back to life.
He leaves me free to choose
the form of my reincarnation.


What country do I choose?


What sex?


What kind of person would I want to be?
I choose my temperament
and talents,
my virtues and defects,
the experiences I want to have in my new life.


What social stratum do I wish to be born in
-rich, middle class, poor?
Why?


What kind of parents do I choose?
I select the qualities and defects
I wish each of them to have.
I imagine that I say this to my present parents
and see how they react.


What kind of childhood would I want to have?
How many siblings?


What kind of education?


What do I choose for my life's work?


After all my reflection I realize I want to be the same person. I am content with who I am - with all my goldenness and shadows. This surprises me. If I'd asked myself the same question 10 or more years ago I think I would have had quite a different answer. So much of who I am I blamed on others, change the 'others' and I would be a better person. Now I see that life doesn't work that way. By God's grace I am what I am - good and bad. I think of some of the paths that my life has taken that were very difficult but lead to some incredible places. I cannot judge the Destination by the difficulty of the road. It takes viewing who we are from a different perspective to appreciate who we are.

I listen now as God explains why he chose for me
the life I have at present
in each of its details.


I wrote pages of what God said to me as he explains why my life is what it is....all of it to personal to include on this blog!

2 comments:

JWebb said...

Poignant, Peter. So honest . . . I'm always thankful for your willingness to dig into the really hard life-work. I will be one of those who grieves deeply your death (though I'll probably beat you to the grave!) . . . and in the meantime, I celebrate the life and friendship we share together.

Kathryn Kelley said...

I've written many responses that have bee edited deleted rewritten deleted wept over deleted. all leave me far to exposed and reveal a high degree of jadedness around my wounds. I've put off reading your post for what seems like weeks simply because of the title.

so my still overly revealing jaded highly edited response to the title , not to you or your heart, is simply, there are no do overs, people really do not afford one another do overs no matter the desire.

you don't have to post my cold jaded response.