“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. “
I Corinthians 13:11-13

I love the “aha” moments, even if they are fleeting, and few and far between. This morning I had one.

For two days, I have been listening to a very angry, very opinionated French Belgian speak outrageously and hatefully about a Flemish Belgian whom he has never met.

A little history, as I understand it…

Belgium is divided into two parts. The northern part is Flemish – a largely Americanized society with big business and capitalistic wealth. They work hard and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Those people speak Dutch.

On the other side of Brussels lie the French-speaking Wallonians. This society is very carefree, creative and superstitious – the people there tend to buck the big government systems in favor of the small guy, even if it means twisting the law. Their work is their passion. These starving artists would rather not attach themselves to material things, especially if it requires chaining themselves to a desk during regular business hours and following rules set by a corporation.

They all hate each other.

As I listened to this otherwise bright, creative, compassionate person spit out racial slurs like piercing bullets against another countryman, my level of respect for him dropped dramatically. Ignorance… prejudice… hatefulness… isn’t that what bigger wars are made of?

Ironically, he is part Flemish, which makes the story more bizarre and interesting.

After the conversation, I sat here quietly, thinking, and the moment came to me.

I do that.

I do exactly that.

He is my mirror. I’m appalled at what I see, because I see myself.

It’s the same issue I’ve been struggling with here in NJ. Another culture… different values… a different language, if you will. (I can hardly understand some of the Staten Island transplants.)

It’s time for me to practice what I preach.

I tend to remove myself from situations and people who have glaring imperfections. I thought it was because I didn’t want to be around all that negativity. Little did I realize, that in doing so, I alienate myself from the entire world, and here I sit on my moral high horse, unable to escape myself.

Ever since the divorce, all I’ve wanted is to “go back home” to DC. Or even to Indiana. But that won’t fix my problem, because everywhere I go, I take myself with me.

I’m lonely because I’ve set it up that way. And it’s not at all a bad thing, because it took being alone for me to finally stop focusing on everyone else around me, and have a good look at Lisa.

So maybe the Universe really does work in my best interest, after all, though yesterday, I almost wrote a post addressed to the Universe that said, “Fuck you.”

If I change myself first, if I can find a way to love all of those different personalities who live inside of my soul… even the ones I judge so harshly…

Then that’s my way out. That’s my way out of this prison I have built for myself. That’s my freedom.

Knowing this Belgian has brought many gifts into my life. One of them is that I was introduced to the moving music of Belgian singer/songwriter Jacques Brel. This is my favorite Brel song, translated into English with his supervision:

If We Only have Love
Jacques Brel

If we only have love
Then tomorrow will dawn
And the days of our years
Will rise on that morn

If we only have love
To embrace without fears
We will kiss with our eyes
We will sleep without tears

If we only have love
With our arms open wide
Then the young and the old
Will stand at our side

If we only have love
Love that’s falling like rain
Then the parched desert earth
Will grow green again

If we only have love
For the hymn that we shout
For the song that we sing
Then we’ll have a way out

If we only have love
We can reach those in pain
We can heal all our wounds
We can use our own names

If we only have love
We can melt all the guns
And then give the new world
To our daughters and sons

If we only have love
Then Jerusalem stands
And then death has no shadow
There are no foreign lands

If we only have love
We will never bow down
We’ll be tall as the pines
Neither heroes nor clowns

If we only have love
Then we’ll only be men
And we’ll drink from the Grail
To be born once again

Then with nothing at all
But the little we are
We’ll have conquered all time
All space, the sun, and the stars.

I’m ready to see a different reflection of myself in the mirror. Time to see a new Lisa. Time for an internal makeover. (Can you do a chemical peel on your heart to remove all the crusty, dead outside parts? Or how about some Botox to plump that baby up a little?) Changing myself automatically brings new mirrors into my life… different people… from whom I can begin to learn a whole new set of lessons.

That’s what I’m ready for. It has nothing to do with a job or where I live or who I date. I’m ready for that internal change – the big one – that shapes everything else in my life. That’s the first step.

My instinct this morning was to banish the Belgian from my life, because his prejudice was so repulsive to me. But he is looking in his own mirror – me. And he is learning his lessons, too. So, I’m not going to be hasty, but rather, watch. And listen. And grow. And learn.

And begin to love my own reflection.

3 Comments on “Time for a New Reflection

  1. I wrote a nice long response to your comment, Keith, but it disappeared into cyberspace. Too bad… it was a good one. 🙂You’re right. Knowing and doing are worlds apart. But something feels different inside of me this time. I feel a shift… a softening of my heart. I’m counting on the Universe to connect me with the love I cannot find within myself. It’s there… it’s only lost and forgotten.Thanks for your never-ending support. Lisa


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