All posts by Valerie

Unconditional Positive Regard

“Those who are guided by kindness hardly even notice evil in another but pay attention instead to everything good and true in the person. When they do find anything bad or false they put a good interpretation on it.” Arcana Coelestia 1079

I just love it when ‘natural world’ learnings align with spiritual teachings. I’m training to become a mediator and years ago was a trainer of a personal development course focussed on ‘empathic listening’. There are a number of tools from these that have resonated for me as ‘real world’ applications of spiritual concepts. And in the current global climate there seems to be such a need for applicable conflict resolution tools, if not for out-n-out conflict, certainly for internal dissonance. 

I have a pet theory or ‘mantra’ about life that says “whatever we do on this earth – whatever careers we do, achievements we reach, challenges we face, details and issues we get fixated on – it doesn’t really ‘matter’; it’s ALL just what ‘keeps us busy’ while we learn how to treat people”. That’s an oversimplification of life of course, but it can help to create clarity and focus. 

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Love Bridges (noun and verb)

Most likely all of us, at one time or another have seen an adventure movie or read a tale, where the main character comes upon a huge abyss and must get to the other side. The only way across is that rickety bridge that has fallen to ruin. You can picture it I’m sure. It’s very long and falling apart. If it’s wooden, there are surely slats falling off with every movement. Or perhaps it’s made of mossy jungle vines. It’s definitely sagging and swaying in the steam that rises from the chasm below. It is entirely doubtful whether anyone could possibly pass successfully over the long, treacherous expanse. But the hero steps onto it, with much trepidation, determined and with steely resolve. As we’re watching we’re torn between the tension of what will surely happen on this skeletal bridge and the subconscious thought that surely they won’t kill-off the main character just yet. Nine times out of ten, the hero makes it across and we can exhale.

Most likely all of us, at one time or another have encountered in our lives an abyss or chasm or even just little rifts in relationships. Sometimes it feels like someone is emotionally ‘far away’ or out of reach. Human connections are like that. It could be with a spouse when life’s stresses have for too long been the focus and cold has crept in, a teenage child with whom many an angry word has been exchanged, a sibling with whom there are old wounds, a friend who betrayed or a colleague who went too far with cutting words. The varieties are endless when humans are involved. There are crevasses and pits of sadness, pride and hurt, anger and frustration, blame and resentment, resignation and loneliness, hopelessness and cold. At times they run too deep and the gulf seems too wide to traverse. A bridge is needed to somehow reach across.

Bridges in relationships can be built of materials perhaps not initially considered for a solid structure. Love bridges are made with a hand tenderly touching a shoulder on the way by, a smile or twinkle in the eye, shared laughter, a compliment instead of a criticism, a kind gesture, a question with genuine interest instead of a directive, an unexpected note or call, an apology, an assumption and trust in someone’s good intentions, genuine humility over pride. These are but a few of the building materials that can be used after the groundwork has been laid. 

We are just the workers in building these bridges of course. The Design happens long before, with the blueprints being drawn by the Architect, the Master Engineer. For love bridges to be built, we must come by choice looking for work, as unskilled labourers, with a willingness to be led and trained by the Architect. We are asked only to come with prayer and with the constant knowing that, with Him, all things are possible. New spans can be built and broken bridges can be repaired. If we come humbly ready to work, opening our mind and listening with our hearts, and are committed to building a bridge, He will give us the tools and materials of compassion, persistence, patience, courage, creativity, tenderness, trust, levity, authenticity and vulnerability. 

With trepidation we alone might attempt to bridge the gulf, entirely doubtful whether it’s even possible to pass successfully over such a long, treacherous and lonely expanse of disconnection. Sometimes it is even unknown what really lies on the other side. But the first step is choice. Choosing to hope and trust and to be open to the Leading of the Architect. Every loving effort is a fresh slat in the bridge that can be built anew. With time, intention, effort and persistence, we may even find someone taking timid steps toward us through the mist, across that bridge we’ve helped to restore.