A couple in their late 70s was spending a quiet evening at home. Harry, the husband, had been afraid for some time that his wife might be losing her hearing. To confirm his suspicion he conducted a simple experiment. Casually, one evening, he moved to the far end of the room behind the chair where his wife sat reading a newspaper. From there he quietly asked, "Evelyn, can you hear me?" There was nothing but silence. He moved closer to her chair and asked again in the same soft voice, "Evelyn, can you hear me?" Still no response. Beginning to feel quite concerned he moved closer still. From directly behind his wife's chair he anxiously inquired once more, "Evelyn, darling, can you hear me?" From that close proximity he finally heard his wife respond in a voice highly charged with agitation . . ."DAMMIT, HARRY, FOR THE THIRD TIME, YES!"
Now let's not diss Harry too severely for the one-dimensional design of his hearing test. Don't forget it was born in his heart as care and concern for his beloved and that fills it with grace. I simply pray that each of us is remembering where all suffering truly originates . . . one inch behind our own eyebrows!.
You may well have chuckled at the outcome of Harry's tendency to limit his search for "the problem" to stuff going on "out there" while blissfully ignoring the possibility of any personal responsibility. I sure did, I love that story. But, I must confess that along with the humor there came a pervasive sense of getting caught with my hand in the cookie jar.
How many times have I been in Harry's shoes blaming my frustration on a brother's refusal to operate his motor vehicle in strict compliance with the Gospel of Driving according to Chad? And how many times have I drenched myself with the cold sweat of fear when my beloved is thirty minutes "late" and I begin attributing her tardiness to a chilling assortment of possibilities worthy of Stephen King at his scariest? And when the prodigal one does show up do I throw a party? I wish. How many times have I traded in relief for anger because my "inconsiderate" lover failed to accommodate my "completely reasonable" addiction to timeliness and compassionate utilization of telephones? How many times? When will we ever learn?
Jesus stated very clearly that authentic liberation is blowing in the wind of a willingness to confront and examine our self-righteous tendencies to lay cause and blame on doorsteps all over town when they truly belong on our own. Consider this from Matthew 7:3-5 . . .
"And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."
What a spiritual warrior He was . . . and remains to this moment! I should be so brave.... so fearlessly compassionate, so willing to risk censure in the service of the Truth that empowers us to be free. Consider how He might deliver the same challenge today...
Empower yourselves to truly love. Bring responsibility for the creation of all your feelings of separation home where they belong. Notice that it's your spiritually uninformed thinking, your conditionality, your rigid, unbending demands and expectations that nail you to the cross of your indignation and resentment. Consider for a moment the wisdom of embracing the radical notion that being in love is infinitely more satisfying than being right.
During this season of Love and Resurrection, I invite you to take a cue from Uncle Harry and commit to cultivating the spiritual clarity and tenaciousness it takes to clearly "hear" and faithfully remember that being in love or in pain is an inside job you do on yourself.
After all is said and done, it just might turn out that the most loving Valentine any of can bring to the party is the work we do on ourselves . . . the Resurrecting work of getting lighter . . . of moving beams . . . so many beams that when the next season of Love and Resurrection rolls around, we'll show up for the party light-hearted enough to kiss every frog and hug every turkey God sends our way for healing.
And that's the way they'll know we are truly His disciples.
May the Resurrecting power of His Unconditional Love bless your heart-mind and free you from all suffering!