Sometimes I do wonder if the Mary-like ability to accept whatever reality comes my way (usually mingled with the spiritual temper tantrum in a winning combination) is not actually spiritual enlightenment, attunement with God, a state of grace, but rather an even deeper and more insidious need to control every little thing? Like, I’ll show you God, I refuse to experience pain or dissonance around this new wrinkle in my life?
I’ve talked about retroactive prayer here in this blog, what about retrofitted prayer? When we square whatever it is we really want with what we already have—shaving off the bits of desire and longing that stick out past the edges of the current reality?
Is this a real discharge of desire, sloughing of concupiscence (a good thing in mystical Christianity), a release of attachment (a good thing in Buddhism)? Or is it merely a denial of our shadow side?
Like daughter, like mother? Carmen has a lot of life-threatening food allergies, has since she was a tiny babe, so she’s never known what it was to eat whatever comes across her path. We’ve adapted, and so has she. Humans can get used to just about anything. People say, “oh, how hard for her not to be able to eat that bag of Chee-tos/bacon double cheeseburger/pounder bag of peanut M&Ms” but I say that she doesn’t know any different.
But that’s not strictly true. For years I got away with keeping a cache of homemade whole-wheat apple muffins in the freezer and grabbing one out when it was time to go to a celebration rife with allergenic treats. But she is almost five now, and she can see that a cupcake at a birthday party looks perfectly delicious, and is not equivalent to a whole-wheat apple muffin.
She has squared this paradox in her own way. If it is true that her mother loves her, and if it true that she it totally, totally worthy of the best possible treats, then the thing that she has MUST be as good as the thing that will put her into the emergency room. Therefore she will lean over to me at family parties and say, sotto voce, “My carob surprise is so much better than that old premium ice cream parfait with warm caramelized marcona almonds and Callebaut fudge drizzle, right?”
God our mother also loves us, and we also are totally, totally worthy of the best possible treats. But sometimes we still get carob surprise.
-from Let It Be With Me
10 months ago