The Gaze of Love

In the tension, the slop, and the clean-up, the hurry and waiting, fearing and unknowing that fill a caregiving day, how can we possibly grasp that we are revered and precious? Who me? we might ask, sleeves pulled up, half-eaten sandwich on the table, dishes in the sink.

But if we could peer behind and under the veil of appearances, we might sense that infinite love is pouring into us and into what is all around us. Yes, that is a leap of faith, and that leap cannot happen without profound humility. It is the willingness to give up on the veil of comfy, controlling self-assessments of how nice we are as well as the automatic, negative judgements about ourselves and our situations.

Being willing to see behind the veil takes enormous guts. To let go of being right about our unworthiness or our self-serving goodness and how unfair life can seem to be: this will only happen in humility. To dare to believe that we are loved beyond anything that seems to prove otherwise is to be ego-reduced. It is an abject state in which we are not able to claim anything. And yet it is precisely there that God honours us. God loves our weakness and our need. That undeserved love is what can fuel us for the tasks at hand.

To claim and to be in this fundamental state of humility is perhaps the only way we can stay whole in the grief, hopelessness, and exhaustion that caregiving can become. We need practice. Before a mirror in our homes let us look into our own eyes. Can we simply look and not assess? Can the eyes that we see with just gaze at the one who stands there? Perhaps we can learn to baby-gaze. Infants and toddlers just look and experience, don’t they? They have no prejudgement. With curiosity and interest, they are taking in what is present. It is a kind of sacred gazing. If we can learn to do this as conscious adults we would be a step closer to knowing that we are already known in our strengths, our frailties, our faults, and our preciousness. There’s nothing to hide and everything to gain. Can we let ourselves be naked and love seen by God? Can we let ourselves be held dear?

How can I rid myself of the veils with which I cover myself;
not being enough, not caring as much as I think I should?

I dress myself in my oh so familiar rain and storm gear –
those negative opinions of who I believe myself to be.

Sometimes I brag inside when no one can see it.
Look how good I am as I demonstrate my care.

Secretly I want to believe there is only this wonderful me proving myself to everyone.

Your presence wants me naked to Your love. Teach me humility. Help me give up the sweet control I find in self-assessment. Help me unbutton and unzip.