True strength meets the vulnerability of life with caring and courage. Martin Luther King Jr. demonstrated the strength of this love in the darkest hours, saying, “We will meet suffering with soul force.” True strength is what the Irish Catholics and Protestants, and the Palestinians and Israelis, will need to end their cycles of violence. It will take courage for them to truly feel the weight of each other’s suffering, courage to honor the other side’s fears of annihilation and loss of land, culture, and dignity. Yet until their pain and fear are held in a wise way, the cycles of hatred will continue.
True strength also brings clarity, like a sword that cuts through illusion. It is called discriminating wisdom. When we are not locked in blame or struggle, we can see things as they are. “We can,” says William Butler Yeats, “make our minds so like still water that beings gather around us that they may see- their own images, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even with a fiercer life because of our quiet.” When needed, we can be fierce and strong, wielding the sword of clarity. Liberated from anger, we can speak the truth fearlessly. At the same time we are free of ill will, so our actions care for the welfare of all.
consider our time together and be loving toward your truth….
inquiry for today~ this beauteous aliveness is the invitation to sidle up to your new day….
Some truths, like beauty, are best illuminated by the sidewise gleam of figuring, of meaning-making. In the course of our figuring, orbits intersect, often unbeknownst to the bodies they carry- intersections mappable only from the distance of decades or centuries. Facts crosshatch with other facts to shade in the nuances of a larger truth- not relativism, no, but the mightiest realism we have. We slice through the simultaneity by being everything at once: our first names and our last names, our loneliness and our society, our bold ambition and our blind hope, our unrequited and part-requited loves. Lives are lived in parallel and perpendicular, fathomed nonlinearly, figured not in the straight graphs of “biography” but in many-sided, many-splendored diagrams. Lives interweave with other lives, and out of the tapestry arise hints at answers to questions that raze to the bone of life: What are the building blocks of character, of contentment, of lasting achievement? How does a person come into self-possession and sovereignty of mind against the tide of convention and unreasoning collectivism? Does genius suffice for happiness, does distinction, does love? Two Nobel Prizes don’t seem to recompense the melancholy radiating from every photograph of the woman in the black laboratory dress. Is success a guarantee of fulfillment, or merely a promise as precarious as a marital vow? How, in this blink of existence bookended by nothingness, do we attain completeness of being?
There are infinitely many kinds of beautiful lives.
So much of the beauty, so much of what propels our pursuit of truth, stems from the invisible connections- between ideas, between disciplines, between the denizens of a particular time and a particular place, between the interior world of each pioneer and the mark they leave on the cave walls of culture, between faint figures who pass each other in the nocturne before the torchlight of a revolution lights the new day, with little more than a half-nod of kinship and a match to change hands.