"If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
All the mountains should crumble to the sea
I won't cry, I won't cry, no I won't shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me
Whenever you're in trouble
won't you stand by me,
oh stand by me
stand by me
stand by me..."
- Ben E. King
Have you ever raised a pair of kittens from the same litter? They can be curled up together and purring one moment, then pouncing on each other and rolling across the floor, hissing and snarling the next…all day long! Weekends at our house are like that. Emma and Clara, our almost eleven-year-old twins, are like a pair of kittens. They are, at the same time, one another's best friend and the other's most reliable opponent in board games, soccer scrimmages, and any race for the front seat of the car.
When the decibel level in the house gets particularly high and emotions run hot I remember that these are the same two little girls, who as babies, had to be close enough to be touching when they slept. Even today Clara sleeps with her head at the foot of her bed so that she is closer to Emma's bed through the night.
I have learned so much about identity and love from these two amazing little women. From the moment I first saw them it was clear that although they were absolutely identical visually they were...and are...very, very individual in every other way. And although they are each so uniquely individual, there has never been a sense of opposites in their natures. No good twin, bad twin. Outgoing twin, shy twin. Athletic twin, clumsy twin. Never. Their natures have been complementary…not opposite.
In just the same way that the nature of God as Love is not balanced by strength and weakness, but by strength and flexibility, so the girls' natures have complemented...not opposed...one another from the start. While Emma's lively, sparkly approach to each moment defines the word "happy", Clara's deep, settled sense of being is the very expression of "joy". One is a rapidly flowing mountain river while the other is the deep, wide, langorous Mississippi. In the same instance that Emma is contributing her gifts of speed and deftness to any project, Clara's thoughtfulness and care in planning and executing steps, brings great balance to their work together. And in any given moment they switch roles within their partnership. Clara brings the deftness and agility and Emma brings depth of consideration. One's sense of order is complemented by the other's spontaneity. It is not order balanced by chaos, or strength balanced by weakness, but good balancing good….just different facets of the same brilliant diamond full of light.
I have learned that I can expect this same sense of balance in myself, and others. We are not a mass of conflicting opposites…but of complementary qualities. Within each of us is the twin natures of strength and flexibility…not weakness, joy and sobriety…not sorrow, compassion and wisdom…not cruelty, hope and practicality…not pessimism, beauty and simplicity…not ugliness, grace and structure…not clumsiness. We live as full-spectrum spiritual ideas, within ourselves...and in community. Our complementary natures stand side-by-side...within us...strengthening, encouraging, and yes, somedays challenging one another to "bring it on", shine brilliantly and do your best.
Strength kisses flexibility and says, "we are different, but we are both good"….always, and only, good.
I've learned this from my sweet little kittens.