A Lenten Meditation on Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
How have I experienced this ongoing, repeatable process of redemption, of finding my way home?
Foremost (and always), I acknowledge, with the Apostle Paul, that “now,” in this life, I “see in a mirror, dimly.” I do not, I cannot see myself clearly. My self-knowledge, at best, always is fragmentary.
Then, I search and find, meet and converse with the stranger. My “inner other.” Those parts of me that are foreign to me. That I don’t understand. Or that I dislike and, if I could, I would disown. Or that are unconscious; the hints or glimpses of which oft appear in my dreams or via my overreactions to wakeful encounters that alert me to inward stirrings, indeed, disturbances and disorders of which I had been unaware (or, I further confess, of which I had known, but had sought to forget).
Then, I name and claim (and, sometimes, reclaim) them as significant, essential elements of my identity. Even my destiny. For they point the way in which I am (and need!) to go and to grow.
All toward my coming to my senses, coming anew to a fuller consciousness of who I am.
This is one way that I interpret the words, “he came to himself.” Therefore, before the son went home, his first homecoming happened within the heart of his self-awareness.
© 2022 PRA
#homeiswheretheheartis #homeiswheretheselfis #lookingforhome #beingandbecoming
 1 Corinthians 13.12a
5 thoughts on “Finding Home, Part 3 of 4”
“This is one way that I interpret the words, ‘he came to himself.’ Therefore, before the son went home, his first homecoming happened within the heart of his self-awareness.”
Oh, what an echo I heard when I read your last paragraph today, Paul. What I heard when I read those words was: “Love your neighbor AS YOURSELF.” The common, facile reading of that command is: “You and I know you love yourself; now love your neighbor in the same way.” But, as I know you have pointed out in the past, there is a much more demanding implication in the command to love our neighbors – or our families, or our enemies, or our fathers from whom we have demanded “our share” and then left. The implication is that BEFORE we can love anyone else, we must first love ourselves, which, as you share today, involves some thought, some remembering, some accounting, some knowing that may be painful – involves, in fact, a deep encounter with the stranger who is the “inner other,” the one we may see and know least of all the people in the world.
Going home to our authentic selves is very hard work, but the “love” we offer ourselves when we can’t know or admit who we are will probably not be benevolent, healing, nurturing love, but something that may be a destructive force. The prodigal son had no doubt been “loving” himself in those destructive ways during all the years before he finally turned around and came back home. He must have in some way realized he had to learn who he was and how to genuinely love himself before his life would have any real meaning. And he knew that the place you learn that is at home.
Please keep going with this, Paul. There is so much in this story we need to understand and keep.
Ah, my dearest Karen, I have only one word to your, per the/your norm, deepest reflections: Precisely! And, as that is so for me, there is little else that I have or need to write/say; which, as I have planned the 4th and final installment of this series, will be evident tomorrow!
I will write/say here that loving you as I love myself, at best, indeed, at the truest degree, calls me to love you as God loves me and you and all — with unconditional and impartial benevolence. Every time I dwell on what that means to me, I always encounter my perplexity (in both conceptualization and, surely, in actualization) with what it is to be wholly benevolent toward another (aye, myself, verily, my self!) unconditionally — that is, without, indeed, with NO regard to who I perceive that person (or me!) to be, what that person (or me!) may have done to me (especially, in harm). Most often, I can conceive of it and, yes, there are moments when I have so done it. Nevertheless, the unconditionality and impartiality of Divine benevolence in human flesh still, for me, is more easily contemplated than attempted…
Nevertheless (along with “therefore”, one of my favorite words!), this is my calling — to be a living, breathing, walking, talking embodiment, incarnation of Divine Love; which, as you testify, begins with me…with each of us.
Paul, Like Karen I’m so looking forward to part 4 because this is such a rich discussion!! Loving others as ourselves – very easy to read, say and understand, but so hard to actually do.
This post reminded me of a few times when the “other” shall I say “less fun” parts of Paul Abernathy would join us when the four of us were together. Tim would ALWAYS faithful and loving saying “I’ll just wait for the REAL Paul Abernathy to come back”…. I thought it was so great of him to acknowledge that he loved you enough to wait for “real Paul” to return and he passed no judgement while he waited!! As I get older I so appreciate how amazing a skill Tim had to do that.., REALLY loving and not judging. I hope I’m better at that now too as I’ve spent lots of time alone and pondering how I love myself and how I love others. When Mom was dying I kept trying to focus on my memories of our lives pre-dementia but it was so hard to do that. I loved Mom every day no matter who she was that day, but I also wanted her to love me back which she did in her own way with her smile. I translated in my own mind her last two words to me “thank you” as her saying goodbye in the only language she was left with. That has to be good enough. I’m going to be leading a class in May on discovering who we are now that we aren’t caregivers. I’m looking forward to exploring as much as I am leading. It does feel great to love others as you love yourselves even if they can’t love you back the way you want and need!!
Love to you both!!
Ah, amen, well do I remember (and treasure!) Timothy’s response to my manic-moments. There was an especial graciousness about his very natural kindness to me that, the more I recall and consider it, allowed me an easier pathway back from the fringe of my madness to re-enter our communal space of sharing and caring.
AND I so love how you loved your mother with an unswerving care and unequaled loyalty.
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YES!!! His kindness really was natural!! Lord knows I will miss my mom, but will do my best to keep our legacy going!! Love you too!!