A long time ago, stranded alone in a midwestern hellscape I never wanted to be a part of to begin with, before I hit rock-bottom, I joined a UU congregation.
One day we had a guest speaker and he laid this on us:
The hardest part is people.
May we face them
without rancor or disappointment.
May we see the pain behind their actions
rather than the malice;
the suffering rather than the rage.
And in ourselves, as we struggle
with the vise of our own desires –
may we be strengthened to a quiet heart,
to a quickened empathy, to act
in gratitude rather than need.
And may we be reminded
that each time we close our hearts
to another’s, we add to the darkness;
May we be helped to always follow kindness and to always see that ours is the calling of possibilities.
Let this be our prayer, guiding us toward that which is unknown but shaped by our faith.
It didn’t keep me from slipping, further and further, until I am no longer recognized as a member of the human community. But, really, a prayer, or a kind thought or action won’t heal me. Heh, nothing will. Except you. Except for the only person I have ever loved looking beyond their shame and regret and fear and knowing I am still wildly in love and will always be and have never thought any less of them. I think of you constantly, and it’s only good. Pressure, is that pressure? Do I think more highly of you than you do yourself? You may—you’ve always mistrusted my unconditional unending love.
I asked him about it afterwards, and he ripped it out of his notebook and gave it to me. That meant a lot to me, I was so moved that I wanted to move to Chicago and join the seminary, but ended up in a cycle of suicide attempts instead. Funny how betrayal works…anyway, I’ve shared it with many since, but I’ve never posted it.