The Hard Road of Love (Part I)

Picture by Lazaruz Kauffamn

I have done something that could be seen as radical for so many people, I have deactivated my facebook account to join my brothers and sisters who are fasting in this month of Ramadan, as a way to clean my soul and concentrate in finding back the beauty of the solitude of myself.  Henry Nouwen in his book “Reaching out” said:

“Loneliness is one of the most universal human experiences, but our contemporary Western society has heightened the awareness of our loneliness to an unusual degree. The contemporary society in which we find ourselves makes us acutely aware of our loneliness. We become increasingly aware that we are living in a world where even the most intimate relationships have become part of competition and rivalry. Loneliness is one of the most universal sources of human suffering today. Our culture has become most sophisticated in the avoidance of pain, not only our physical pain but our emotional and mental pain as well. By running away for our loneliness and by trying to distract ourselves with people and special experiences, we do not realistically deal with our human predicament. We are in danger of becoming unhappy people suffering from many unsatisfied cravings and tortured by desires and expectations that never can be fulfilled.”

“When was the last time I heard from myself? “ This is what I asked this morning, and suddenly I realized I have totally forgotten about the inner joy of writing about my own journey. I have been so preoccupied with my own financial situation and with the pain of my father’s death; that I have not being able to really dive into the pain of my own loneliness. I have been trying to extinguish it by keeping myself busy, by traveling as much as possible, by becoming the best community organizer, by trying to find a partner for my love life, by finding friends, a church family, or things to do; so I can preoccupied my mind, and finding a way to escape from dealing with my own issues.

Of course as soon as I started to this time, I went again for training, and I found myself trapped in the business of my mind once again.  Some people think that my facebook fast is not enough, but for me it is more than enough because it has given me time to go back to the written word, and this written word is my own prayer. So when I start writing, I start praying; and when I say prayer, I am not talking about the pious insensible and repetitive prayer, but the one that talks to my heart and transformed my soul, and for me is called “the moment my mind starts questioning and writing”-prayer. Nouwen continued saying “…there are many ways to pray. When we are serious about prayer and no longer consider it one of the many things people do in their life, but rather, the basic receptive attitude out of which all of life can receive new vitality, we will, sooner or later, raise the question: ‘what is my way to pray, what is the prayer of my heart?’Just as artist search for the style that is most their own, so people who pray search for the prayer of their heart”.

Therefore, religion is not anymore a series of laws to follow, but a collection of spontaneous moments—a great sunset, a violent storm, a bird singing, chatting or texting with friends—that together create a way to talk to our soul. I respect all religion, and there is no right for me to criticize them, but for me, in this moment, I am truly becoming a free spirited person where my holy book is every book, letter, poem, or friend’s conversations that help me to be a better person, and sometimes to even enjoy the not so good parts of myself; where my god, goddess, Father, or Mother is represented by all humanity, and I can learn from everybody. Well after understanding this, last night I had a holy encounter, when I broke my daily facebook fast (from sunshine to sunset) and went into a deeper conversation with a friend.  At the end of that moment he gave me a couple of questions for me to answer, this is what he said:

“When you are living your life, Miguel, What do you give and pass on to others? When you are trying your hardest, and believing in yourself and just want the best for everyone you work with, who is that person? When you are finally making an end to this life… and you have nothing left to give… what will matter most to you? What you have done, and passed on? Or what you look like in the mirror?”

Only someone who really cares for ourselves is brave enough to ask these questions to us. The most shocking thing is that this was the first time we were having a deeper conversation. But more of a conversation, he was in a monologue rampage with the whole purpose to encourage me and raise the level of my self-esteem to the highest. To believe that even as a “gordito” (fatty) what matter the most is how I feel with myself, and what I have inside of me, in my heart. He said: “You will be happy in every situation, if you like yourself. You just have to believe. The person who has the love to surprise your heart lives very close to you, he will stay with you. You just need to be happy, and be good to others, and he will understand your needs, and you will draw the right people to you”

Why this conversation is so relevant? Well because there are things happening in my job, and persona life that are attempting to sabotage and change the perception about myself. Most of the time when we think about “sabotaging” is about changing something positive to negative, well in my case is about facing my low self-esteem, in order to really believe with my whole being that I am a beautiful person inside-out, and I am worth to get the attention and appreciation of the people I am helping to and with, and to love me just the way I am: “gordito, chacheton, nalgón, con tremendos ojos verdes y un gran corazón” (fatty, chubby-cheeked, big butt with incredible green eyes and a great heart”

I still need to answer the questions he asked me, but I think that will be the second part of this article… for those who thought fasting from facebook is not good enough! ….well just try to read this big article done in a period of 3 hours in a good coffee shop in East Nashville: Ugly Mugs. The ironic of all this is that the whole conversations started when I posted the words of a song in facebook that said: “I am an ugly man who knows how to love, and he will love you in truth”, and here I am the “ugly man”, writing his prayer at the Ugly Mugs.  This is the kind of sense of good humor my father always taught me: “never stop to laugh”.

You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe,
deserve your love and affection.

– Buddha


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