礼品之路 ( Lǐpǐn zhī lù ) – the gift of a Mirror

There are many gifts along The Way of the Gift.

Some are evidently gifts, while most seem to be obscure, hidden, parading as burden, as we desire to enfold ourselves in what we think is comfort.

To receive the Gifts, to open them up, is not a comfortable thing.

Not by our instinctive standards and expectations.

Yet, when we open them and receive their beauty, They give us ease of living, beyond anything we hoped, and fill our lives with a deep happiness, which is solidly framed by love and peace.

If we can endure the process.

Of opening.

The past 3 weeks I am reminded of The Giff of The Mirror as Reflection is thrust upon me.

It was a tumultuous time.

And the receiving of this old gift is not yet complete for me.

Dean Koontz reminds me, in his ‘Book of Counted Sorrows’, “In the fields of life, a harvest sometimes comes far out of season, when we thought the earth was old and could see no earthly reason to rise for work at break of dawn, and put our muscles to the test. With winter here and autumn gone, it just seems best to rest, to rest. But under winter fields so cold, wait the dormant seeds of seasons unborn, and so the heart does hold hope that heals all bitter lesions. In the fields of life, a harvest.”

And alongside him whispers another:”O, what may man within him hide, though Angel onn the Outward side!?” (William Shakespeare))

And between the two of them, I look at the reflection thrust upon me, hoping to see what is hidden within, as hope heals all bitter lesions.

It is the narcissist and psychopath who cover the Mirror and hide it in basement deep, believing everything they are and think and do, all of it is above reproach, as if they live, not inside the Order of Life, but raised above, a special breed with no need of improvement.

It is at improvement that The Mirror comes to our aid, for when we see our Self, we are afforded the opportunity to adjust.

Our motives.

What lives within our heart.

For our heart is the wellspring of all our life and from it flows all that can be heard and seen.

All of us, this I believe, are aflicted by a brokenness into which we are born.

And which is fed, as we live amongst and in the care of other broken beings.

That is why my most earnest prayer still remain, save us from Evil, my Evil, as I pray for those entrusted to my care, quite aware that I carry inside my the door to Evil, which, if opened, will destroy, not just me, but also my children and my wife and my friends.

It is in covering The Mirror, in living as if it is not there for us to receive, that we open the door unto Evil in ourselves, allowing us to be drawn towards and given to, as living sacrifice, Evil in all its splendour.

So when the opportunity comes, even though it is hard, uncomfortable, I embrace it, for I have seen Evil and I have seen it grow and I habe seen it destroy, also from who I am and what I do.

And I am grateful for Grace, which so often erases the consequences of my actions, as if I had never presented myself to Evil’s whims.

This time round I am confronted with my love and goodness and the question if it is and was love and goodness after all?

Love which is given as part of a transaction, is not love, even if it may be called by that name.

And as my son emerges into adulthood and my youngest daughter live a life so very different from the lives her sibblings lived and my time with my Zuko dwindle beyond two decades and our older daughters reach into their own new adulthood, I look in the mirror with surprise as I see a taintedness cling to all the love of 20 years.

It isn’t black, as poison would be, but there inside of it, perhaps, a little discoloration, of expectation.

Love given across lifetime and decade, with the hope that perhaps as they grow up and as we grow old, they will reciprocate, by living lives we would approve of and being the people we could see in their infant eyes.

And as I look and look again, for often our Mirror is faded and as we look at first, what we see struggles to come into focus.

Which should not deter us.

It is best to keep on looking and washing that face and combing that hair and shaving that beard, or adorning it with beads, until it is as it should be, and not how it came to be by chance or fate or the sculpting hands of others.

I see, my concern is not about the past, but about the future beyond the threshold where I stand as we venture towards a new time in our life.

With children becoming men and women.

And I becoming older, nearer to the departure hall, than ever before I was.

I see that all I have been and all I have said and done is good and well, but can be emptied, now.

As I live next days and weeks and months and seasons given me.

By my being in this time, less than love and goodness.

By, now, suddenly, asking for a return on what never was an investment.

On demanding from those I have supposedly loved, to reciprocate and answer misplaced expectations.

And so I realize, as I look in The Mirror, it is not just about having lived well, but even more so now, living well in this moment, not giving anything to that one who wants to reign where They from Whom I come have reigned before.

And after weeks of chewing and thinking and asking and talking and meditating on all that is Good, I see.

The Mirror essential, not just at first, but evermore, for the kindest among us can be infected to monsterhood, just as seeds of new life is hidden in seasons yet to come.

And along with the Gift of The Mirror, I receive two other gifts.

The Gift of Bravery.

And the Gift of Hope.

And boldly I decide to live in love, which has no price.

And filled with faith, which cannot come from my Self, I live Hopeful, that this is enough.

Enough to drive back the brokenness in me, until I board to another reality, in which the brokeness will be eradicated.

And perhaps, as I live in love, which is true, which does not ask a ransom, in my spoor will come to life a few wild flowers, which might bloom for a little while in bright oranges and reds and blues.

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