A new prayer

R. and his wife of more than 15 years have separated. She's tells people he's an alcoholic and emotionally distant. He's not saying anything. When I see him, he's always the same. Ready to talk about politics, business, the weather - keeping me and others at arms length with a most pleasant affect.

A. works a lot. He manages people all day long and keeps various compartments of his life separate. Like I used to do with food as a kid - don't let the potatoes touch the peas and whatever you do, don't let the gravy mix in with the salad. I see him on a regular basis, just like R., in a specific setting for a specific time and specific activity. I don't know what to call A. Buddy, friend, aquaintance; they all fit but I suppose the most accurate description would be the person I do that specific thing with once or twice a week - we share an interest and a time slot. Good enough I suppose.

J. overflows with news every time we talk. He discovers the world anew every day and shares the details of each new friendship, encounter, enlightenment, and transaction each time we meet. He loves everyone he meets and leaves everyone he loves -- eventually. He moves on like an explorer in pursuit of the next adventure. Sometimes he brings out the skeptic and cynic in me. I've never been much of an explorer.

L. has boundless energy and talent. I thought I could multitask but L makes me look like I'm standing still. When I'm with L my longing self stirs and I feel the creative urge - that thing I've called angst for most of my life - imagining possiblity while pushing against one form of resistance or another.

What I realize when I look at these brief snapshots of some of the people in my life is that there are whole parts of them I do not know - or more accurately, whole parts of them I do not notice. I have a tendency to look at them as I experience them - focusing on those aspects that most interest, puzzle, scare, or intrique me. But what about the whole of who they are? How curious have I been and what distances do I keep to maintain whichever equilibrium I need or desire most?

If I took in the whole of A. or L. or J. what would happen to them, to me, to our relationships with each other?

Spirituality is a daily exercise of taking in people - the whole of them. Temptation is the inertia of taking in only what I need to in order to form an opinion, judgement, or course of action. Sin is having more opinions, judgements, and courses of actions than I do curiosity, interest, and questions.

For many years my prayer was, God - make me whole. Today, my prayer is, God - help me have the interest, time, energy, and discipline to see the whole of everyone I meet.

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