A Course in Miracles says that there are only two responses in this world: love, or a plea for love.
How different it is to look at the world in this way, recognizing only two such responses. Such simplicity.
I see my daughter screaming at the top of her lungs, telling me how mean I am to not give her what she wants, how she hates me, how I am an idiot, and I look for the correct category in which to place it--love? No. A plea for love? Yes.
I feel myself softening to this little one, who truly believes that she should get what she wants, and how dare I take it away. (In this case, she wants to crash a community picnic at the park and eat their food--how do I explain to her that we just don't do that(yet)? Not really any good reason not to, just that we can't go up to perfect strangers and eat their food). She is exhausted and hungry, and no explanation helps her, rather makes her all the more upset, me as the target.
I feel a mix of frustration and anger at the intensity of her rage about this, but I also feel a budding compassion and empathy for her, that I have to work at to keep alive in me, as her words and gestures become increasingly angry. I remind myself her behavior is a plea for love--that simple.
I feel my own story dropping away, the one that feels justified in my anger back. I feel a tiny bit of acceptance for my fear that my daughter is angry beyond what I can bring back quickly. I stop anticipating the hell of the car ride home and her seat kicking.
I allow her honest response, which feels hard, but less hard than it used to.
I tell her that I understand her frustration.
She doesn't care.
I stay quiet (unusual for me), careful not to fan the fire, but realizing that my recognition of her anger as a plea for love holds no threat of making the situation worse.
My judgement of her begins to dissipate.
After a moment I gently ask myself out loud if there are moments when my girls have kept me from doing something I want to do?
"Well, I can't think of anything." I answer.
My daughter can. She sounds less angry.
"Well, you let us stay at the park and missed yoga." she says.
"Yes!" I say.
"But you said you didn't care." she adds.
"Yes." I say with less enthusiasm. I'd been enjoying the park having a heart-felt conversation with a friend, so missing yoga to let my girls stay and play with my friend's daughters had been very okay.
"Well, I guess I have pretty great kids then, because I can't think of anything you've kept me from doing."
My daughter is calm now. I can't believe it. I begin to talk about the things I haven't let myself do because I've been too afraid.
She listens for a minute, but soon changes the subject, and we move on. My heart swells with love for her. Two responses: love, and the plea for it.
I see her. I see myself.
I am a perfect reflection of my daughter. Our crying out is a plea for love. What we want is just a concrete noun that we can use to name our pain, our plea for love.
And sometimes, there are those that answer our pleas for love--and sometimes we can't believe how beautiful.
Sometimes I just have to read the comments on this blog to remind myself how much love there is out there coming at me. Sometimes I just need to spend beautiful moments with my girlfriends to feel it.
Sometimes I have to be creative, like sincerely imagining myself or others as a little newborn, just exposed to the elements, the harshness of light, the sharpness of voices, and to hold that little one, listen to it crying out, and find it adorable.
Sometimes I have to find and meet up with that little girl within me, meet her at that moment in time when she realized that life would be officially hard, impossible, even--when her heart felt heavy and sad because she saw so much pain around her, and nobody, no matter how good their intentions, seemed to be able to do anything about it.
Sometimes I have to sit with that little girl, very much resembling my daughter, and tell her that everything will be okay. I have to gently reassure her that even if life seems big and looming, with no sure way to walk through it, that she will be okay. She will be safe and loved. She will learn how to walk through the world. She will find her brilliance, and she will become surer and stronger as time goes on. The things she once thought so important will drop away, little by little, as she honors the whispers of her own heart.
Her struggle will soften her, open her, and deepen her surrender to life, teaching her how to flow with it; to find her greatest joys with the clarity of her being, and she will find in this her guidance, her release, her openness, her ability to love anyway.
And perhaps if she is lucky, there will come a time when she will realize on a profound level, that she really never was left alone, not even for a second--and she will feel awe, even laugh as she spots the angel tracks.
I will tell her that there is no need to understand any of this now, because in time it will all make sense. All she need do is live her life, discover and play, and in time she will look back and see how it all unfolded.
And I'll keep repeating this loving truth to her over and over, knowing that all of it takes time to digest.
Mostly, I'll teach her indirectly, through my own experience, through my own commitment to making it so simple, as I divide everything into two neat little categories, love, or the askance of it.