The gift of real friendship

One of the things I think we deeply desire and deeply fear as humans is to be seen for who we are. This year for me has been one where I have been invited into that vulnerable space of revealing myself over and over and over again.

In almost every circumstance I have discovered compassion, love and acceptance. More importantly, the choice to allow myself to be vulnerable has proved a pivotal moment certainly for me, but oftentimes for those with whom I am interacting.

In the end I have discovered, in a way I never expected, that I can be myself, fully myself, in all my quirky awkwardness, and be deeply loved and appreciated. The deep truth is that no one expects any more of me. The pain of the desire for me to be more than I am is mine. I am profoundly limited, as are we all.

2017 for me has been learning that if I can own my limitations, others can own theirs. And once we get there, then we can really benefit from each others giftedness.

I’ll sign off with a picture – it was taken by my friend Kate – I got to see her for 36 hours which included 2 hours at 4 year olds birthday party (not her child). I sat outside the party room reading a book. And Kate and I and her son all had a good time. I could be myself, and Kate could do the thing she needed to do for her family. In that moment, neither of us needed the other to be other. This is the gift of real friendship.

Avoiding being triggered

Perhaps the greatest lesson I have learnt this year is that I will never get to a point where I am not emotionally triggered under particular circumstances.

For a long time I think I have been trying to get to place where I can roll with the punches regardless of what is thrown at me. I thought that getting to a point of equanimity meant getting to place where my old buttons could be pushed and I would be unaffected. I think this is cloud cuckoo land. It may exist in some mythical perfect reality but it probably will never be my life.

No, rather the point is to be able to know when I am triggered, to find the support I need to unhook my emotional response, and face back in to the situation to achieve what was hoped for in the first place.

When I find myself triggered by someone I have two choices. If the person is someone close to me it is probably worth explaining that I find that particular circumstance more emotionally charged than may be expected. But if it is someone I only interact with occasionally, it is probably better to simply find a way to recover my equilibrium.

Perhaps the greatest gift for me this year has been the discovery that I have people in my life who can and will help me recover my equilibrium. And with this discovery I no longer have to be afraid of being triggered – I can recover. I no longer have to wait for the dawn of the era of cloud cuckoo land. I can live a beautiful, rich and wholehearted life right now.

Christ plays in ten thousand places

The gospel of the fourth Sunday in Advent was the annunciation, and yesterday the visitation. Two places I got to visit in June on a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Two places I had the honour of breaking open the Word.

For personal reasons the pilgrimage was a crucible. One that really did burn off some of my dross. It was acutely painful, but I was well supported by Christ clothed in the flesh of my companions.

So for me this Christmas Eve it is Gerard Manly Hopkins whose words are playing in mind:

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.
I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.
With deep gratitude for all my companions on that particular journey.