“The beloved is said to be in the lover… [even] in the absence of the beloved, because of the lover’s longing towards…the good he wills to the beloved with a love of friendship.”
One thing my marriage has taught me is that really ‘being-present’ to someone must be learned and practiced. It would seem this should come naturally—given that it is at the very heart of human life.
Perhaps it comes ‘naturally’ in the sense that true love grounds and calls for such presence. But that does not mean it comes without effort. Experience shows that even when we love, we can still be quite distracted, and even fail to ‘be there’ for loved ones in basic ways.
This has the most obvious significance in marriage. Here, as in all deeper relationships, there is the dual challenge of being really present when bodily present, and being present when not bodily present.
I don’t think it is an overly romantic ideal that in some real sense we ‘be together’ all the time. Indeed, is it not a reasonable goal that spouses, as likewise all true friends, never be ‘alone?’
From the perspective of a husband who must spend a significant amount of time ‘away’ from wife and children, there is a simple exercise that has amazing fruits. Go, in mind and heart. Be there, with her, wherever she is, by concrete acts of thought and will. Such ‘going’ is no metaphysical slight of hand. It is as real as the trees outside my window.
I am a person. And where I go in thought and will, there I am in a very real way.
“I love you dear.” “I am with you.” Even, “I’m sorry, and I’m going to try to do better.” Such declarations in no way replace the declarations directly given. Rather, they can follow them up, and prepare for them. They cultivate dispositions in our soul, while bringing us into contact with the beloved.
Here, to be clear, I do not mean using technology to send a message. That can certainly be a good practice too. But this is different. I’m convinced it has a unique and irreplaceable power and effect. It engages our soul in a special way. It can be done anytime and anywhere.
And we will not be surprised, some time later, when we say, “I was thinking of you, I was with you,” she will say, “I know. Yes, I know.”
Here is a video version of today’s post:
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Very profound words today. I have experienced such presence with a loved one and nothing compares to it. This also is the whole idea behind the teaching of Br. Lawrence of the Resurrection in his book Practicing The Presence of God. We can be in God’s presence continually through the will of our thoughts. It is heaven on earth. I believe it is the essence of true love.
Therese, Thank you for your profound extrapolation of this theme!
Interesting now that we are retired, we are in each other’s company virtually all the time.It’s pretty terrific.
That sounds wonderful.
This is really beautiful. Dr. Cuddeback and I appreciate you raising it as it can be easy to lose this with daily distraction and work. It is sort of the difference I think between being “in a relationship” with someone and being in relationship with them. It’s about intentional connectedness. The choosing to love. I agree it does not always come naturally and at times takes a conscious turning of the mind and heart. It can also sometimes add joy to otherwise less than enjoyable days. I also agree that when coming back together in physical presence, a partner knows if you have been with them during the day in your thoughts. It becomes clear that you have never really been disconnected and are still flowing on the same river. Such a simple thing with a deep impact. Truly beautiful. Thank you.