I have a massage therapist friend/coworker/client/cheerleader .. did I mention friend?.. who used to have a five-minute radio spot on a local station called "Massage Moment". (Since I first wrote this post, that radio show has since moved to the Internet, and some of my friend's spots can be found here...)
Before I knew him very well - and was therefore still carrying a few pre-conceived notions about him - I was a little startled to hear, after listening to his show for the first time, that he ended his spots with the Biblical reminder, "... you are fearfully and wonderfully made."
Given my complicated relationship with Christianity and, well, Christians, I attached some more assumptions to my friend concerning his belief system. I also tended to bristle when the word 'fear' came up in any spiritual context, like it really doesn't belong there, and it seemed to be in direct opposition to love. Plus, I just didn't get how we could be 'fearfully made'. Seemed like another screw-up in the translation somewhere.
Not to mention the 'intelligent design' implications, about which I had my own ideas.
Many months later, my friend became the occasional and compassionate witness to my life drama playing out, which I tended to allow the grieving of in the quiet of my shiatsu office. He was a willing and supportive ear. And after a few times of sadly watching me beat myself up, he handed me a scrap of paper on which he had scrawled 'Psalm 139:13-14'.
I should have known that I would open to this passage:
"For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."
A few days later, he asked me if I read the passage, and if so, what did I think it meant.
I told him I appreciated the 'wonderfully' part, but the 'fearfully' part was stumping me a little. He went on to give me his interpretation. Something along the lines of an artist, like a potter, say, working on a very precious and unique creation... with all the attentiveness and care, respect and reverence due to this piece of work. And if God/the Divine/Source etc. is the artist, putting this much love and devotion into his/her creation, who are we to belittle ourselves or let anyone else treat us less than the magnificent beings that we truly are?
Ah. I get this. And I cried a little.
It's a stretch sometimes, and it comes back to that self-love thing. We believe we know ourselves well enough, better than anyone, actually, to see how ugly and unlovable we really are. We know who we are behind closed doors, in the dark and hidden places of our souls. We sure don't love those places ... how could anyone else?
From that limited perspective, it's hard to internalize the observations of our goodness even from those closest to us, whom we most trust. How could they possibly know?
To find a way to tap into the broader perspective about our Being.. whether you have a spiritual bent or not ... to trust that we are much more than our limited self-definitions, full of holes and skewed misconceptions; to see that even beyond our darkness and well-concealed secrets, there is a deeper and truer Self... one that is perfect and worthy and not only loveable, but love itself....
Perhaps this is the beginning of self-love. Determining what/whose perspective we trust.