Moments from a child’s birthday party at my neighbor’s house.
When you don’t know how love yourself,
what you will want most
is for others to love you.
To say “Oh! How beautiful you look in the light!”
“How exquisite you feel in the dark!”
“How wonderful are the things you create!”
and “Oh, how I love you even when you fail at beauty, at grace, at self-discipline, at patience. I love you.”
When you haven’t yet found that eternal wellspring of divine love that exists in you, and exists in the universe simply by the nature of existing at all, you must rely on this
secondary love. It is not sustainable.
It is a spark of light that burns brightly and goes out.
You will need it lit again and again.
“Tell me again how beautiful and love-worthy I am!”
“I cannot see in the dark!”
“Without the light to prove my beauty, how can I know it is so?”
You will exhaust yourself in the asking.
And over time, perhaps a long time,
You will exhaust these sources of secondary love, too.
They are on their own journey
and cannot forever be made available to fill your cup.
When you do not know how to love yourself,
being alone might be frightening.
There is no one to replenish our lack of fullness.
Our insatiable need.
But over time,
with much self-work
and self-attention for the places where your fear and your hurt has blocked your eternal wellspring of love,
it will begin to open.
And you will begin to see your own light.
And it will saturate your being.
Others will notice your light shining from a distance.
It will draw them to you.
Those who have not yet learned to love themselves
will see your abundance.
They will flock to you in the hopes that you will fill them up, too.
And for a while, you can. And you do.
But you are new at this.
New fears and new hurts spring up,
and you sometimes forget to tend to your own light.
And you retreat.
To bask in the glow of your own loving light.
To untangle, remove the hurts and fears before they crystallize.
Aloneness means something different now.
Aloneness is a time to replenish.
To feel full.
To examine spiders building webs,
and read poetry aloud
and dip your feet in icy waters
and notice different textured stones
and see light and faces and color
without the need to document it
or share it
Because it is here now.
And that is enough.
by firelight, we gather
the soft light and crackle and each other
our only distractions
it is quieter here
for listening to human murmurings
we can only see by dim light
All images were made in Summer 2014 throughout Oregon (Portland, Hood River, on the McKenzie River, and in Yachats).