"Life is a matter of becoming fully and consciously who we really are, but it is a self that we largely do not know." - Richard Rohr
Whenever I read an insight like Rohr's I always wonder how it could be that the one person I might not fully know is myself.
By age ten, I was pretty clear about my identity. Then the process of "forgetting" began, of gradually losing myself beneath layers created by my efforts to match society's demands.
As we bury ourselves beneath masks, we lose our story. Why do we do this? The world we seek to copy is filled with the insanity of wars, torture, political chicanery, pain and petty criticisms (along with moments of joy.)
In the finest journey we can take, we seek to discover, once again, our true self. This is the stuff of fairy tales and hero's journeys. Those stories are interesting to us because we recognize that we have also lost our way. The hero inspires us that perhaps we, as well, can recover our truth.
Our own fable casts us as someone striving to recover this truth. Like Luke Skywalker or Joan of Arc, or Jesus himself, we battle shadowed demons and hard darkness to find our Light.
Caregivers witness this every day. As the stricken among us lie ill or injured, they see desperation in the eyes of some and in others the light of a continuing journey.
No caregiver has ever succeeded in becoming a loving healer without first suffering and then staying in touch with the learning found there. We have all suffered.
What have we learned from our agonies?
Suffering is our hardest teacher. The lessons are expensive. Why cast aside what our pain has taught us?
Who are we really? In the Apostle John's first letter, he writes, "It is not because you do not know the truth that I am writing to you, but rather because you know it already." (2:21)
Our best truth is that, at heart, we are all children of Light. Our greatest self is the one that shines through when we become messengers of Love.