Why We're Here

By Elsa Joy Bailey

Imagine a brilliantly colored world atlas spread out, vast as a tablecloth, across your dining room table.

You stand before it, peering at its endless nooks and crannies, its giant pools of blue water, looking over the exotic and unfathomable names of cities and countries beyond your awareness. You take in the whole of this mammoth map, parts of which are familiar as dust, parts of which are completely alien.

And pretend you've been given an assignment: to bless and forgive every piece of this huge map; every name, every river, every mountain, every desert, every village, every spa, every bridge, every coast, every battleground, every street sign.

Now you can stop pretending. Because in truth that's exactly the way it is. You and I have been given such an assignment: to forgive everything, everyone, everywhere.

-- You ask: but with a world that stretches so many miles out of sight, with such an immense list of characters and events, how on earth do we accomplish such a herculean task?

Piece by piece by piece.

Actually, it's simpler than it seems. (Simpler -- but not easier.)

This world is much like a hologram, which means that to entirely forgive and bless the small piece of map on which we stand and live is to forgive the whole.

So we start right where we are. Day by day, we are here to learn to see past what our eyes and ears report; to see through surface to essence. We are learning to forgive it all. The ripe lush strawberry that made us itch. The pothole that tore a hole in our tire. The grocery clerk with an attitude. The relatives we try to avoid. The co-worker who appears to hate us. The newspaper report of a gang shooting. The water bill that is inordinately high. The washing machine that shrunk our sweater into a doll's dress. The driver that splashed mud on our new jacket. The sun that refused to come out when we needed it. The endlessly long line at our favorite restaurant. The head that blocked our view at a concert. The checkbook that doesn't add up. The irate letter from a landlord. Everything.

These are our daily assignments; the extraordinary opportunities we are given to see past the skin of all moments and catch the shining innocence that waits beyond and beneath the obvious.

Is it easy work? No. Does it take a long time to complete? Yes. But of course we are given a lifetime in which to do it.

And when we have moved through our private map, piece by piece by piece, and, with the help of the Undying Love at our center, have come to release each face, each instance, each folly -- what happens then?


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