“Life is a gathering in. Death is a scattering out.
Therefore is Man—the dualist—suspended between the two.
For he would gather in, but only through scattering out.
In scattering he sins against The Law (of Love)
and Death is his bitter prize.”
~Mikhail Naimy, The Book of Mirdad
I’m awakening to the sad, health-sapping, death-inducing blindness in myself: all my life I’ve been guilty of scattering.
It began early. I was taught from the time I was a child to fear, despise, and reject “the world,” lest it lure my soul (or that of my loved ones) into eternal separation. I was faced with a seemingly simple choice: Separate yourself from people you don’t know right now so that you can be with people you do know always. These “threatening” people I didn’t even know anything about included (like I need to spell it out) atheists, new agers, relativists, homosexuals, liberals, hedonists, drug and alcohol addicts, sexually promiscuous, those from any other religious traditions, and any influences that might possibly pollute, God forbid, my otherwise lily white soul.
What’s really ironic about the aforementioned is how I was taught in church that it was my greatest calling and unfailing responsibility to love these people “like Jesus did,” (and to make them into “one of us”), yet I was taught at exactly the same time to fear their toxic influence and to keep myself away from them. It was made clear to me that I could never actually love like Jesus because, well, Jesus is God and I’m not, so better to err on the side of caution and not get too close. Fear rooted in eternal loss was a far greater influence than the small possibility of Love’s victory.
In recent years, I encountered my first taste of inclusivity when I discovered that I really could love all “those kinds of people” without any fear whatsoever (because I am Jesus). I found that the people I had once categorized as dangerous from my previous diabolical “us vs. them” mentality were actually really wonderful, nonthreatening, loving, everyday people…a lot like me.
There emerged, however, a dark cloud on the horizon of my enlightenment.
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