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REFLECTIONS

If human relationships begin to grow, there are some-times parts of our characters or something from our past that we feel would endanger the growth of future trust of our bond, so we either hide them or cover them up with lies or defences. Some of our defences are transparent and easily overcome, but others are impregnable walls of fear. A famous film actor had concealed for many years that he had a certain weakness; he was ashamed and never told his wife. Then one day the worst of his fears came true. The Press revealed his secret: that he had been found in his caravan on the film set with a young man. The Press speculated on forthcoming divorce and had a field day with the scandal.

In a moving biography, the story was retold with all the personal anguish and trauma from the inside. When the Press and others were pouring fires on the actor’s head, his wife returned from abroad in the midst of the sordid, detailed accounts of his crime. She put both hands around his face and said, “I am ashamed, not because of your frailty, but because you doubted my love. I love you and will always love you.” Forgiveness was so instant and complete, the richness of her love was so strong, that it wiped away the wound and she helped him surmount the condemnations and judgements. What is important is not to find out the sins and weakness of each other, but to forgive, to drop it when we have a stone to throw. When someone stands in front of us and we are in the right whilst they are naked and vulnerable, let it go. It is only when we confront the other in their weakness and forgive that real love is born.

From All Shall be Well

Michael Meegan

www.michaelmeegan.com


The power of authentic love

taken from ALL SHALL BE WELL

Michael Meegan

Our desire to be loved, if uneducated and unexamined, remains a deep gut feeling rather than an insight. This basic need to be wanted and loved is exploited all the time. We will follow any possible lead in our efforts to be better looking, more acceptable and attractive. We are told: “You will be beautiful if you use our shampoo and our cosmetics; without then you won’t succeed. You will be sexier if you wear our jeans; you will look like your favourite fantasy figure… you will be worth kissing if you have our toothpaste and mouthwash. Wouldn’t you like to look like this?”

We are sold a notion of what is beautiful, we are educated towards wanting more – more is better, bigger is best. We are not taught the meaning of enough. As Mother Teresa of Calcutta reflects, “We do not know the meaning of enough, we keep looking for more.”

Further, we are conditioned to feel that we will not be loved if we are not successful. Success is associated with one’s income and social status. We can only free ourselves from such distortions if we learn to think for ourselves as individuals not collectively. In a society that is in need of each personal contribution of ourselves, in a structure that needs a conscience to keep it honest, we have a vital and dynamic role to play.

Unless we strive for goodness, cruelty and intolerance take over. Unless we are always trying to love and trying to make a better world, hate will grow. In the early 30s, as Germany saw signs of segregation and propaganda, but they never believed that the mass population of the country would ever let anything serious happen.

The late Dr Jacob Bronowski, like Einstein, spent his life searching and discovering the human condition. He was a questioner and humbly examined our evolution and progression. His series, Ascent of Man, ended with his standing in the pools of Auschwitz where the ashes of millions of Jews and others were scattered. In living memory we had stripped and starved our children, we had shamed them in mindless acts of cruelty, and after numbering them, we sent them to their deaths.

There was no room in the plans for these people to live, so the poor, the crippled, the old and the retarded were destroyed along with countless Jews. With tears in his eyes, Bronowski asked the unanswered question: why? How? When Michael Parkinson interviewed him some time later, Bronowski reflected: “When love is compromised for an ideology or reason, it dies.”


Life is to Love and to love is to Serve

Our lives are for loving, for tolerating each other and forgiving each other’s weak points. Part of love, a very special part of real love, is another often misunderstood human action. It is the act of serving. “Life is to love,” said St Bernard to his people, and “Love is to serve.”

International rescue teams converged on the disaster zones of Cambodia and took control of the crisis. In many camps there was no sanitation, no food, no medicine, only bomb blasted children, frightened mothers with starved infants, blind men, angry youth, violence. In one such camp there were over 160,000 refugees. The organized relief teams set to work. They divided the camp into sections and set up a hospital that operated round the clock. There was a rumour circulated that some of the refugees had seen an angel, and in fact the angel lived in the camp with the people. The angel was supposed to have a bad leg and talk to God in a strange language and played with the children.

The workers had little time for such stories as they were occupied getting the camp in order. There were rows and rows of tents where the injury were cared for by a small, hopelessly outnumbered staff. Interpreters were few and often too busy to help out much. One night more casualties arrived in the camp. It was then that the relief doctors had their first chance to see the “angel”. At about 2 a.m. he came limping through the aisles of sick people. He stopped at many beds and laughed and joked in fluent Cambodian. He lifted up a child and wiped his nose, and whispered to a blind man huddled in a corner.

He was, of all things, a French Catholic priest; very shy and quiet, but had the most beautiful eyes. He was the light and soul of his people, virtually none of whom were Christian, but that didn’t seem to matter too much to him. One night there was a woman covered in burns, her whole front septic from her face to her thighs.

She was screaming and shouting. The Abbe quietly took instruments from a tired nurse who was unable to approach the woman. He whispered to her and after some twenty minutes began gently to take away the burnt tissues. It took hours. At last he bandaged her, with patience and care and tenderness, talking all the time to her.

He was there to convert no one, to prove nothing; he was there to serve, to love, to witness to the Lord in silent and hidden acts of kindness. He lived in a tiny tent among his people, He lived in a tiny tent among his people, he kissed the children goodnight, played football with the young men despite his bag leg. He walked among the frightened and the hurt, brought hope and help among them.

Love is the strength to climb out of our trenches and stop worrying about our own security. It is almost impossible to let go of our familiar securities, to take risks and serve those around us. It all depends on the principle that directs our lives. Is it self-protection, self-survival, “me, mine, and keep the head down”, or is it “other” and “others”? if we spend our lives afraid to go beyond our own fears and surroundings, we are destined to a safe and secure life, perhaps a comfortable and cosy life, but not a life in which we are ever fully alive or present to the mystery of ourselves. In his book, Why Am I Afraid to Love? , John Powell puts it more succinctly. “If we decide to spend our lives seeking the happiness of others, and this is what is implied by love, we shall certainly find or own happiness and fulfillment.”

The first school of Indian mysticism taught a philosophy of self-donation to others, the offering of the mind and soul to all creation, and seeing God reflected in all that he has made. By being gracious and tender to all that God surrounded us with, we accept him as he is.

The Sufis taught of a passive awareness and an active caring. Long after the death of the great sages, their followers devised formulas and sacred texts and followed them to the letter as the only way to salvation. Christian tradition also relies upon a living “charity” and kindness, a serving of the weak and those in need.


An extract from All Shall be Well by Michael Meegan

July 28th 2014