My morning meditation began with a quote from St. Francis: You are that which you are seeking.
What am I seeking? Good question.
Is that the same as, what do I desire?
That reflection led me to the question, what is my deepest desire?
As I pondered that question, the answer appeared: I want to be accepted.
This is not a new thought. I have long known that rejection is my primary brokenness; l’Arche taught me that.
People often asked me why I moved to l’Arche, a community where people with and without developmental disabilities live together in the spirit of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12).
What was the draw for me?
At first, I thought it was because I was already working with people who had disabilities, and this was just a more radical way of living out that mission. (I was trying to find the most radical way to live the Gospel, and this certainly seemed radical.)
As time went on, though, I came to understand my connection with people who had disabilities in a different light.
Jean Vanier, the founder of l’Arche, talked about the rejection people with disabilities can experience. Even at birth, a mother can involuntarily react negatively when told her newborn is disabled. She may change her opinion in time, but that initial reaction can be experienced by the newborn as rejection.
After I left l’Arche, I read How to be an Adult by David Richo, which invited me to discover my original wound. For me, it was rejection.
My mother’s first child was a boy, and she was thrilled. He was the proverbial apple of her eye. The next year, she had a girl—me.
I have often wondered if my mother knew beforehand that she did not want a daughter or if she only realized it when I was born. When the doctor said, “It’s a girl,” did she involuntarily blurt out ugh?
That is something I will never know.
What I have always known, though, is that I was not wanted, that something about me rubbed my mother the wrong way and that from the moment of my birth, she rejected me.
The people who lived in l’Arche seemed to intuitively understand this brokenness in me—much more clearly than I did at the time.
I remember praying in chapel one day and two of the men—both named Ross—entered chapel and sat on either side of me. They bowed their heads and joined me in silent prayer. I had never felt so accepted, so safe. It was as if they, and God, were saying, “We know your hurt, and we accept you as you are.”
In that moment, something cracked inside me. It felt like there had been a glass globe surrounding my wound, and their acceptance shattered the glass.
Their acceptance revealed to me this vulnerable place inside me.
Accepting my vulnerability and embracing my brokenness is what I seek.
What are you seeking? What is your deepest desire?
I am always impressed with your commitment to writing and reflecting. Seeking and wanting more answers is the desire I have. Sometimes it’s a wall that blocks me in my own world and sometimes it’s an open door. Your posts are appreciated.
Thank you Jackie. I was recently reflecting on the fact that I have been posting weekly to this blog for almost 7 years! It does take discipline. Fortunately, I have lots of material inside me that I have been reflecting on for most of my life, but only started writing about 7 years ago.
Very powerful Madeline.
Thank you, Georgette.