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Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World

Love for others through the recognition of the truth of my being.


I thought I would reflect on the spiritual book I have been reading, the Urgings of the Heart: Spirituality of Integration, but on the retreat of December, I was inspired to reflect upon another book that had guided me through it.

I’ve come to realize that our humanity have many characteristics in common despite our backgrounds and cultural differences. I understood this through the word, “Beloved”. The term connects each one of us to the truth of our being and our humanity. Each individual, like myself, was deeply and truly loved before our parents, friends, teachers, society harmed and changed us. As a result, we hide our true selves and lose crucial elements that make us who we are. We come in terms with shame, fears, rejection and the greatest temptation of all, self-rejection. Often, we fall into this temptation when we are rejected (in any form) by others through their actions and/or words. This brings up the idea that we all want to be accepted and loved. Yet, we unknowingly harm ourselves. We have the tendency to take the best of others and compare it to our worst traits which in reality, is completely illogical but as humans, we unconsciously do it. To put it in humorous term, as Father Tri had cleverly demonstrated, it is equivalent to taking one’s face and compares it to the rear end of another individual. Illogical, but we do it anyway. We find ourselves repeating the phase “never good enough” like a self-inflicted curse. The outcome of this is an unsatisfied self-perceived image that we project onto others. In reality, “we transmit what we don’t transform”. We pass onto others the dislikes of ourselves like an epidemic disease. However, by realizing this we are beginning to free ourselves from this temptation and to start living in true peace. One solution to this is to first recognize the similarities we each share with another human. I say human because as humans, we all have shame, pain, fears, worries, etc. We all seek acceptance and to love. This realization allows me to understand that I am not alone, was never alone and will never be. It brings the vicious circle of self-hatred and projection of self onto others to an end when we connect with one and another through our human nature and what it means to be a human. It also teaches us to love, the love for humankind. This unconditional love is a precious treasure if it can be found. It was specifically through this finding that I was able to forgive myself and to once again, fall in love with my sisters because I could recognize their preciousness in the eyes of God. In addition, we must claim our “belovedness” and continue to reclaim it, taking the place of the earlier curse, “never enough”.

It is essential for us to reclaim the truth of our being, the chosen ones, because soon enough, we discover within ourselves a deep desire to reveal to others their own chosenness. Once we realize that we are precious in God’s eyes and get in touch with our own goodness, we discover the goodness in others. It is a change of mentality through a change of heart. This change manifests in my soul where a real change takes place and where I begin to see through God’s eyes.

Nouwen, Henri J. M. Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World. New York: Crossroad, 1992. Print


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