I have repeatedly stressed the importance of recognizing and trying to experience deeply the sacred worth of ourselves, extending progressively to those near and far, and eventually to all beings. At the end of the last reflection, I mentioned briefly the thought that we are all relational and interdependent beings.
I would like this week to reflect on that relational quality. We have not created our own life, but have received it at the hands of others. Our life, by its very origins, has the character of gift. While some of the relational aspects of our lives may add to that gift, other relationships may have created more limitations, wounds, and even betrayals. These two opposing aspects of relationships either enhance or detract from our ability to feel our own worth. In addition, those who do not feel their own worth may also have difficulty conveying a sense of that worth to others.
Sam Keen, a writer on spirituality, has written that, from our background, we have received both gifts and wounds. We need to respond to the gifts with gratitude and the wounds with forgiveness. I might suggest that in every new or existing relationship, this is not a once and for all, but an ongoing process. Above all, the most important relationship we need to have is the one with ourselves.
One pathway that may facilitate the relationship with ourselves and with others is solitude, time spent quietly by ourselves. Spiritual writer, Morton Kelsey suggests that, in silence, we may allow our feelings to arise, disconnected from the outside world, and learn to deal directly with the depth of our own personal space.
In a similar vein, Gordon Cosby writes that silence will put us in touch with a host of feelings that, if put into words, will allow us to move toward a place of centredness that would reflect positively on our relationship with others.
Social worker, Clark Moustakas, also notes that, it is important to be open to experience, and not run from, the loneliness that is part of the human condition. We may then experience a new depth of awareness and meaning. Loneliness transformed into solitude may pave the way to healing, to true compassion, to intimate bonds with others and with all living creatures.
Another pathway that may affirm the relational quality of out lives is friendship. A trusted friendship involves affirming each other’s core identity, sharing safely our thoughts, feelings and experiences, and challenging positively our growth. Psychologist, Erich Fromm, says that love is possible only if two persons experience themselves from the centre of their existence. Only then can they communicate with each other from that centre. They are one with each other by being one with themselves. “There is only one proof for the presence of love,” Fromm writes; “the depth of the relationship, and the aliveness and strength in each person concerned.”
In sum, our essential relatedness does not negate our unique identity and worth, but enhances and expands it. Deeper and more than any possessions, power, and activity, it belongs to the very core of our being. May you come to acknowledge the depth of the gift of your sacred worth, and that of others. And may you share it with others in worthwhile and rewarding relationships.
Norman King, May 1, 2023