Tuesday, December 12, 2006

being an obligation

several days ago i wrote my post taxes april 2006, sharing what i considered to be one of this year's most meaningful experiences and richest lessons. however, in the writing of the post i began to discover a new message.

i wrote "it seems to me that paying for something is a gift...the requirement to pay for something is a gift to us," and after the writing, the words lingered with me, almost haunting me. the idea of an obligation to pay for a thing being a gift to me felt right, and my experiences with it felt true. our requirement to pay, our obligation, calls for our participation, and participation pulls us into an experience, giving us what we need.

obligation calls not only for our contribution, but for our responsibility, for our commitment. what a lovely thing it is for me to be a visitor to a garden and give my adoration or occasional gift but what greater loveliness for me to be the rain upon which the garden is depending.

i have had various relationships with obligation. i have had responsibility to children who depended on me, who could not survive without my constant care. i have had obligation to a partner who was unemployed and depended on my income for sustenance or who relied on me for courage and support. in those times i responded to obligation with ready acceptance, with open willingness, with loving trust. not only did i accept my obligations, but i did not consider them to be burdens.

however, as i wrote
taxes april 2006 i suddenly saw that i have refused (which is to say i have resisted) the other side of obligation. i have pursued a life of being sure not to "be" an obligation. (really, though, one cannot refuse one side of something without also being resistant to its opposing side.)

in recent years i have pursued being independent, self supporting, not wanting ever to be an obligation to another. i have worked to ensure that anything done for me or given to me by another be for love and never from obligation. sometimes i have been willing to suffer loss rather than ask for help in my avoidance of ever being an obligation.

as i wrote my post, though, i suddenly saw (or rather...felt) another view of obligation, and that of its being a gift. if being obligated to a thing, being required to pay, is a gift, then my refusal to be an obligation is much the same as depriving another of a gift. it seems to me i must from time to time be humble enough to allow myself to be another's obligation, to be another's gift. i am called to explore the gift of interdependence.

and suddenly, the words "being an obligation" are no longer ugly to me but are beautiful and lovely. being an obligation is a deeply meaningful experience.

photo by permission

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