I am instructed to love my enemies. I have been giving this quite a bit of consideration lately. We of course find it easy to love those that we’re attracted to in one way or another. Shared values, interests, mindset, world view, etc. The list goes on. The challenge becomes how to love those who’s attributes are not aligned with my own. As a human with an ego my initial response is immediate and happens without much consideration.
I do know and admit that, often, what irritates me about others is a characteristic that I posses. It has been offered as insight to me that, one cannot identify in others what I do not have. So first I must understand myself. Thomas Merton describes this exquisitely.
“To live well myself means for me to know and appreciate something of the secret, the mystery in myself: that which incommunicable, which is at once myself and not myself, at once in me and above me. From this sanctuary I must seek humbly and patiently to ward off all the intrusions of violence and self-assertion. These intrusions cannot really penetrate the sanctuary, but they can draw me forth from it and slay me before the secret doorway.“
“If I can understand something of myself and something of others, I can begin to share with them the work of building the foundations for spiritual unity. But first we must work together at dissipating the more absurd fictions which make unity impossible.“
Clearly or maybe not, what Merton is doing here is considering carefully in solitude. This I believe is a bit of a stumbling block among those whom are not of my tribe. You know who you are.
Now comes the more difficult part. I must acknowledge, accept and even embrace the less palatable of my traits. This isn’t possible without knowing of God’s Love for me. Which I eventually discovered, after having my self-will crushed, by a series of experiments which were disastrous or maybe beautifully successful as they have led me, by Grace to what I know to be the Truth. So, God knows my heart and Loves me. There is my example.
How is it that I can overlook or not see the less appealing parts of the ones which I love easily? That, I believe, is the key. We tend to focus more on the parts of them that we like. It is afterall a choice isn’t it?
Extrapolate that out to ones whom I revile. Here’s the easy part, imho, God Loves them too. Now the not so easy, find in them something I admire as worthy of praise and acknowledgment. Focus on that and as I would for my more easily loved ones. I have to take an interest. I can now do my best to accept them as they are.
Now carry on, oh wait, one more thing. I must do this without want of reciprocation. MKay? Chew on that!