"Nothing has been
what I guessed so far.
This most sweet
~ The Innocence Mission, Beautiful Change
For those of us who have grown so accustomed to contending with life’s challenges, often steering our vessels through and around treacherous seas, and then find ourselves unlearning such ideas that have solidified our notions of life as some barrage of conflicts, the prospect of profound joy is both disarming and exhilarating. Aren’t the humbled visited by the sublime? Can we dare to really believe in the actuality of things we have hoped for? Of course, it’s all very well to speculate about hope, but what of the faith to consciously live one’s days with the certitude that we will see joyous times? Indeed, there’s enough in this society to persuade anyone to develop a habit of expecting the worst. Yet the force of such conditioning is thwarted and subverted when our souls behold something good. Though we may not know the forms in which goodness comes to us, it is at once sufficient and daring to desire the will of God, come what may. "Joy is never in our power," C.S. Lewis once wrote, and part of the surprise of glad tidings is the realization that change can surely be for the better. And all I can do is embrace the one who has come into my life, and be heartily grateful. Much like the very timely description of the Advent, the deepest fulfillment is a consistent and often quiet celebration.
The course of my pilgrimage steps evolves still more, with the new dimension of sharing my life with another’s. It is a living miracle that has taken time for me to believe, firstly because enough past failures obscured my vision of human relationships, and due to my plain astonishment with this advent of two soul mates finding one another. I have loved much and lost much, and yet am now mysteriously certain of being loved. Did I honestly believe years of those kinds of prayers would be answered? It is both expectation and surprise; recent years of adventures left me strengthened and prepared, though also quite delightfully unready for this new course of life. Beginning leads to beginning. Transition is a certain aspect on the voyage, and for myself this has been an evolving series of seasons of change. Through it all, I am still me; somehow that is sufficient. Surely my perspective and context are changing, but these are things that must develop with the days. And this raises the question, not of identity, but of how one identifies oneself. Soon, I shall cease to think of myself as solitary; and indeed it has been my wish that solitude be temporary. It has had great value- right up to the crossroads of this new threshold.
By embracing any new way of living, it has been necessary for me to surrender old notions: to understand the differences between how things may seem, and how they really are. And the best uses of the past, as any other historian would advocate, are in the lessons learned. For many years I have known how the soul longs to be recognized and understood, for its own intrinsic value, but what happens when that recognition is realized? When I did not strive to be accepted, I found myself embraced and esteemed. Seeking and finding by being. Still further, if seeking does preclude finding, have I really understood the meaning and the potential of seeking? Producing an answer will probably take even longer than it took to procure the question! Indeed, my healed heart has been awakened to something new. Life is changing and astonishingly so, in the ways I have wished for it to change. And through these transitions, I have glimpsed at how little I really need, and how complete my life has become- solitary or not. And now, it is both desire and time that hurtle the days forward.
In Wind, Sand, and Stars, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote, "Love does not consist in just gazing at each other but in looking onward together in the same direction." Now I understand how soul-companions, those who consider the other as, in the Gaelic expression, their anam ćara, can be for one another reminders of belonging and home; their very presence a place of mutual refuge and nurturing. Now I know. As spiritual life draws us to embrace those around us, indeed our love and respect for each other is also a gratitude to our Creator. And renewed hopes can also mean finding new things to hope for, advancing from our hopes realized.