Saturday, May 10, 2014

"Just as long, as you stand by me…"

"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

Disclaimer: I am re-posting this piece, as much because I want to share the above photo, as the following message. Today I've been humming the song "Stand By Me," and I can't hear it, without thinking of the girls.

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, rolling across the floor, hissing and snarling, the next!  

 Weekends at our house are sometimes like that.  Emma and Clara, our almost eleven-year-old twins [at the time of this writing], 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, rodeo events, soccer scrimmages, and every 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 yet, there has never been any sense of opposites to their natures.  No good twin, bad twin.  Outgoing twin, shy twin.  Athletic twin, clumsy twin.  Never.  Their natures have been complementary -- not opposite. 

I think it is the same way that God's nature -- as Love -- is not balanced through a battle of strength and weakness.  But through the complementary qualities of strength and flexibility.

 And in the same way, the girls' natures have complemented - not opposed - one another from the start.  While Emma's lively, sparkly approach to each moment almost redefines 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.  And as they have matured, I am noticing that they have discovered the other's gifts, in themselves. 

When they were little, Emma was known for her gifts of speed and deftness, while Clara brought a thoughtfulness and care to the planning and execution of any project they shared. But today I see those qualities flowing more freely between them.  Working together, they have learned to bring a greater sense of balance to the interests and projects they share.  

They learned, that in any given moment they may be asked to switch roles within their partnership.  When needed, it is Clara that brings the deftness and agility, while Emma brings depth of consideration.  And there are moments, when 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 -- different facets of the same brilliant, light-filled diamond.

Being with them -- and learning from their example -- I have discovered that I can expect this same sense of balance in myself and others.  

Individually -- and collectively -- we are not a mass of conflicting opposites, but complementary qualities, natures, and talents.  

 Within each of us is the twin natures of strength and flexibility -- never 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 -- individually and in community.  Our complementary natures stand side-by-side -- within us -- strengthening our core sense of being. And these complimentary qualities challenge one another.  They say, "come on, let's shine brilliantly and do our best -- together. 

Strength, kisses flexibility, and says, "Yes, we are different, but we are both good."  Always - and only - good.  God made us that way.  By being together, they've learned that they are each complete -- within.  They will take this with them wherever they go -- together or alone.

Just one of the lessons I've learned from my sweet little kittens.

I am so blessed to have had them as teachers.  And I am so grateful to be their mom,


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