Saturday, March 21, 2009

"Sometimes there's God so quickly"

These words from Tennesee Williams' play, A Streetcar Named Desire,were quoted in the Toronto Star this week as an epitaph to the life and death of Natasha Richardson, exquisite actress of the Redgrave clan, and beloved wife of the wonderful actor, Liam Neeson. Her sudden and tragic death captured much sadness for my daughters and me, recognizing the beauty of the love in her marriage and the intensity and authenticity with which both she and her husband have acted their screen and stage roles. We are not much given to ogling famous personalities, and we don't watch TV, but we are touched by all kinds of people and I appreciate our profound conversations. We pondered in a similarly honest way about the tragic death of a local high profile person in Muskoka, who died with her daughter when her ATV drove off the ice into open water on a large Muskoka lake at the beginning of March break. I had heard this impressive woman speak, spoken with her once at a women's luncheon, and last sat opposite her and her daughter at a fundraising event for Africa organized by my own daughter. I did not know her personally, but her intense way of working and approaching life attracted my interest. I know nothing of the personal faith of either woman. But what is obvious to all is that they lived their lives with passion and intensity, seeking to demonstrate in their art or their community service, their marriages and their family lives, their desire to love and be loved.

I am sure I am not alone in my continuing interest in love and death and the forms in which they come, their intense expression and their roles in the lives of all I know or hear about. My interest and concern are always about the quality of spiritual and relational life for everyone, in public and private, and whether or not they have lived and died in the knowledge of God's incredible love for them.

I return in my thoughts again this week to meditating on the words I quoted in my post last Saturday, by William Blake:

And we are put on earth a little space
To learn to bear the beams of love
.

Gerald May, a psychologist and leader,teacher and author in the spiritual formation movement, also quoted these lines in his book, The Awakened Heart. His amplification of them helped me in my pondering the implications of the word bear in this context. He has said what I was beginning to articulate for myself as I searched dictionary meanings and the internet for comments on the phrase 'bearing the beams of love'.

There is a desire within each of us, in the deep center of ourselves that we call our heart. We were born with it, it is never completely satisfied, and it never dies. We are often unaware of it, but it is always awake. It is the human desire for love. Every person on this earth yearns to love, to be loved, to know love. Our true identity, our reason for being, is to be found in this desire.

I think William Blake was right about the purpose of humanity; we are here to learn to bear the beams of love. There are three meanings of bearing love: to endure it, to carry it, and to bring it forth. In the first, we are meant to grow in our capacity to endure love, beauty and pain. In the second, we are meant to carry love and spread it around, as children carry laughter and measles. And in the third we are meant to bring new love into the world, to be bearers of love. This is the threefold nature of our longing.
Gerald May: The Awakened Heart

Well, you may say, it's all fine and dandy to work this out conceptually, but what matters is how we live it. Absolutely. What we really share about on this blog, and what others do in so many ways, is our struggles in living out these eternal, timeless realities. For indeed, "Sometimes there's God so quickly."

1 comment:

Belinda said...

Wow, Meg, what a meaty piece of writing to wake up to. Thank you so much for your deep thoughts on love and death.

As you know, I am reading Thomas a Kempis at the moment (and forever!)and I just read, "For God weighs more the love out of which a man works,than the work which he does."