Posted on November 29, 2018 by Jenn Zatopek
I sit in a sunlit diner having a late lunch in late afternoon and notice the light dancing in the shadows near the corners of the wall, the dust motes floating delicately down the way to the ground, their bed for the moment before they are brushed away into air again.
The diner is situated near a busy intersection so I take a seat in a quiet corner of the cafe, watching the cars drift by while the russet leaves blow on a slender tree just outside the back door. I’m caught in a beautiful reverie, a flow of sorts, of relaxing into the only moment I have: the present.
And as I eat my lunch salad I notice an absolutely delicious meal, carefully chosen by none other than myself. Hummus and calamata olives, greens the color of Oregonian forests, bright red tomatoes and and peppers that shine in glory. I sip the cool water to my left and dive into dessert, something that really never ought to be skipped, because life is too short not to enjoy ourselves, to be grateful for these incandescent moments of pure joy and wonder.
The cognizance hits me in my chest and face, as I feel the air expand slowly in my lungs and a smile spreads broadly across my face: I love myself. I love the gloriously imperfect and every-shifting woman that I am. All of us are this way, really, when we get to the end of the day, the week, the year. When we really get honest with ourselves, we are all totally dynamic, always changing and never, ever the same each day.
Beautiful. Emotional and messy. Beloved.
This relationship I have with myself is a great and holy gift, and it’s one that I have longed for my whole life long. Over the years, just recently, I have worked quite hard at meditation, of following scripted prayers and reciting affirmations to validate my worth.
But what I grasp now is that this love I have for myself has been always with me: it is wholly and holy mine. And it has always been and always will be for you too.
When Jesus said that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, we don’t usually take the time to examine what the word “neighbor” really means. Take a look at the word now: neighbor is really what is nearby, and who is with us, all of the time, who has been with us since birth, who is with us through the joys and sorrows of this beautiful and painful life, and who will be with us at death and beyond time?
Some might say God or the Divine and of course, they are right, because evidence suggests that God is with every single person on earth, a deposit of the Divine spark left in us that longs for a relationship with the Holy. Some of us try to fill that Holy hole with food, sex, drugs, alcohol, control, busyness, shopping or anything else that distracts us from our pain or numbs us for our true joy. What if that longing within us is for us, is for our wholeness and rest? (See the The Divine Dance by Richard Rohr for more.)
And what if the other person or being who has never left us is the one person we long to know intimately? What if that person is ourselves?
All I know is that now as a forty-something woman, I have tasted the love of something that is stronger, more tangible, more holy and strong than anything that I looked for outside myself, whether through religion or from people, places or things that I looked to fill the deep longings of my heart. I know that this deep friendship is one that I trust beyond all else and cultivate carefully through times of stillness and quiet, of creativity and play.
It is a love that is available to everyone, this deep and compassionate friendship with our souls. And the commitment I have to myself means that I will not forsake myself, abandon myself, or give into old stories that harm my beautiful soul.
I am worth far more than the finest gems on the planet, worth far more than money, power, and prestige can buy, and more powerful than I ever thought possible.
What is true for me is also true for you.
There are no exceptions.
The Father and I are of one heart and mind. (John 10:30, The Message)