Relationships (A Real Ideal)

To be in relationship with another
(as I perceive it and believe it)
is to enter and to experience a life of paradox.

Paradox: That which, on the surface, at first glance, makes little sense,
indeed, is nonsense,
yet that which, in the light of second sight and thought,
embraces, embodies deepest truth.

The nonsense?

To be in relationship with another
involves, demands that each of the two –

each firmly holding in hand
that invaluable gift of the inheritance of one’s birth:
and that learned, hard-earned attainment of one’s sentient growth:
the liberty
to act,
to choose,
to say “aye” or “nay” –

exercises that personally-possessed freedom by freely restricting it,
at times, fully relinquishing it (throwing it away!)
for the sake of the other.

How is it this I know?

In my living and relating
and in my listening and reflecting
on the stories of others in their living and relating,
I, in my observing,
can say without questioning
that one, when in relationship with another,
no longer,
without due regard for the other,
can do, as if alone, what one chooses,
when one chooses,
where one chooses,
how one chooses,
and with whom one chooses
(at least, not without fomenting chaos unbounding!).

If this be so,
then what is the deepest truth?

To be in relationship with another,
this I have discovered

(as each extends to the other uninhabited palms of self-surrender,
bearing unseen, but no less in hand
the oblation of a hungering heart of love’s self-sacrifice:
being what, being all truest love lives, loves, knows how to do)

betokens the daily unearthing of this inestimable treasure,
this ineffable wonder:
One with the other,
indeed, one only through the other

(who, o’er the days and years of life together,
no matter how increasingly similar
ever remains an individual,
ever remains one’s “other”;
thus, who, thinking and feeling, intending and acting differently,
ever challenges one,
ever calls one to reach, to stretch beyond the comfortable confines of self)

becomes more fully one’s self than one would be,
than one could be alone.

heart - with hands

4 thoughts on “Relationships (A Real Ideal)

  1. Relationships!!! YES they can be challenging and rewarding and amazing! I remember my Girl Scout song… make new friends but keep the old, one is silver but the other is gold…I’ve built my life around that.

    I soooooo agree with you that you can be so much more of an awesome person when you’re in relationship(s) than you can be just alone…

    Being alone these last couple of years I’ve learned a lot about myself and love myself, BUT I don’t know where I’d be without my relationships… they’ve held me up, challenged me, taught me lessons and empowered me!! I’d still be ok alone, but look at everything I’ve become because I’m
    In relationships.

    Much love


  2. I remember some, actually, on immediate second thought, many years ago (I can’t recall precisely when), I shared the core of the thought at the heart of this poem with a group of folk. (I’ve been working on this thought, therefore, for quite the while!) I believe it was on the occasion of a wedding. Later, one asked me, “Do you mean to say that this (becoming more fully who you are and were meant to be) only can happen in intimate relationships?” I answered, “No, I don’t mean to say that. Not at all.”

    In this instant moment, as I recall (though my memory’s doubtless flawed) the person, at that time, was between relationships. Her question had underneath it her concern that I, in effect, if she had interpreted my words rightly, had excluded her from the possibility of her fullest becoming. Again, I said, “No, I am not saying that only in intimate relationship can we become fully our individual selves.”

    Rather, what I meant then and now is that, as a sage soul once put it, we humans have been so created by God as to be psychically hard-wired to be in relationship. (I used to say quite often, “Even Henry David Thoreau had to come back to civilization. He couldn’t stay at Walden Pond by himself forever.) Hence, even the monk who lives a good deal of his existence in solitude remains a part of a monastic community where relationships with others can be had.

    Moreover, in relationship, whate’er forms those relationships take, as we, each of us, move along in our individual pilgrimages of growth into our fullest selves (and, God knows, that there always is much that can inhibit our progress, both without and within us!), we also deepen, I believe, I pray, in relationship with ourselves and with God. These aspects of personal development, too, I believe, are the way nature/God has planned it.



  3. Amen and thank you, brother Paul. You have knocked out the park yet again a reflection that captures reality for allcof us–in and out of relationship. Bless you and thanks!


    1. My beloved sister Sandye, any word of approbation from you is high praise. I am humbled and I am grateful. Thank you. Love you.


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