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Yearning for Love? Stop Blaming the Mirror

Jul 11, 2008
The diligent gardener gathered his gloves and tools, and went outside one fine morning to till the soil in his patch of earth. Soon he was on his hands and knees, removing weeds, turning over dirt, putting new plants into the ground and adding fertilizer.

As the sun rose, it grew hot. The gardener decided to get a glass of cool water for refreshment.

In the hall on his way to the kitchen, he caught his reflection in a mirror. He was stunned and unhappy to see his disheveled hair, grimy clothes, and sweaty face.

Forgetting about his drink, the gardener rushed to the kitchen faucet, wet a dishtowel, and returned to the mirror, swiping as vigorously as he had applied himself to his gardening earlier. He cleaned and cleaned that mirror, but it still showed him as dirty and unkempt.

He returned armed with a vinegar solution and new towels, but his reflection did not improve even after another thorough cleansing.

Suddenly he had what he thought was a brilliant insight. "I'll simply change the mirror. That ought to do the trick."

He yanked that mirror off the wall, and went to the attic to look for another one. When he found it, he put it on the old mirror's place and polished it until it was gleaming and spotless.

To his dismay, however, his reflection did not improve, and now had the added dust from the attic.

"What's going on here!" he cried. "I even changed mirrors, yet my reflection doesn't get better. What's wrong with that darn mirror?"

This simple parable makes it easy, of course, to spot the diligent gardener's real problem. If he doesn't like his reflection, he needs to take a shower, not switch the looking glass.

Yet when it comes to our own reflections, many of us behave exactly like the diligent gardener. We look outward and rail at the mirror instead of inward. Indeed, we blame anyone and anything except ourselves for the misery, pain, ill health, and general lack in our lives.

A wise teacher named Jesus once discussed this very human tendency to look outward and fixate on others' problems instead of looking at and within self to solve our own. We do this as individuals, and we do this collectively, rarely realizing that our bodies, our lives, and our world are simply mirrors that reflect who we really are right back to us.

Scary thought, isn't it? Considering the state of the world today, that reflection can at first seem a hopeless mess. We see (and often experience) violence, hatred, injustice, poverty, intimidation, dehumanization, pollution, tyranny. How in the world can I ever make a difference in all of that?

Appearances, however, can be deceiving. Look past the mirror and connect the spiritual dots. Maybe--just maybe--this world collectively and our lives individually are merely reflecting back to us what's going on within ourselves that we would prefer to ignore. In other words, if we change something within ourselves for the better, we may just change the world for the better, too.

It's not such a tall order after all. By embracing the mirror's message instead of ignoring it, we can start the self-change ball rolling. Should we care to pay attention to it, the reflection tells us that what's going on within us can be summed up simply as lack of

Despite our protestations to the contrary, we do not feel loved, even surrounded by our families or within a relationship. Nor do we feel especially loving. We may even suspect that loving our neighbors is for chumps or dupes, even if we dare not voice that thought aloud.

If we want to feel and experience the changes we hope that love can make in our lives, and if we don't want to be made fools of us, then it's time to wise up about love. It always starts with and within self. We cannot give to others what we have not claimed first for ourselves, love included.

What keeps us from claiming love for ourselves? In two words: self-judgment. Once we understand the deeper nature of love and how self-judgment blocks and hampers love, we will have better insight into how the reflection helps us find the ways we are judging ourselves instead of loving ourselves.

No longer scary or hopeless, the reflection is now part of the solution.

Self-love, then, and ultimately a more loving world are possible by freeing ourselves from our self-judgments. This is by no means hopeless, yet it is at once both simple and difficult, thanks to the fears and lies about love that surround us and make it too terrifying to stop blaming the mirror and ignoring the reflection.
About the Author
Candace (C.L.) Talmadge is the author of the epic fantasy Green Stone of Healing(R) series and a political columnist syndicated by North Star Writers Group. As StoneScribe, she blogs about the intersection of politics and spirituality.
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