by Gregory Hermann
“Having died to self interest,
she risks everything and
asks for nothing.
Love gambles away every gift God bestows.”
Rumi, as quoted by Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault
“Having died to self interest”
Here is my first challenge of Rumi’s wisdom. I really like to think that I am dying to self interest. Reality check: I am very self interested. Yet I need to keep in mind one of my often quoted recovery mantras: progress, not perfection.
This statement: “having died to self interest” suggests to me that this is a one-and-done effort. I don’t believe that any more than I believe that forgiveness is a one-and-done effort. Not for me. Dying to self and forgiveness have become life-long processes for me. (Another reality check: forgiveness is a powerful act of self death).
Death to self interest, and forgiveness, are both risks. When I forgive, I risk the event happening again. Let’s turn it around: Every time someone has forgiven me, they risk me repeating my offense. Yikes! Being the imperfect being I am, it is very likely that I will re-offend. So, just how many times is forgiveness expected? One famous source says 70 X 7. These numbers reflect a never ending practice of forgiveness.
70 X 7 would also suggest that the process of death to self interest is also a never ending process. It is a risk. It is a risk of everything. For what? The expectation that I will reclaim self and need to die all over again?
Been there. Done that. And I believe that is the gamble of love. Love is not always returned as expected. Love often hurts. Love often is one sided. Love is a mystery. When I love according to instruction, I should expect nothing in return. I am supposed to give all and expect nothing in return.
In my self interest, I expect something back.
So I will continue to practice giving without expectation.
I need help.
Whew! I know how many of you are around to help.