I came across a quote from Joseph Campbell in relation to a Nietzche idea that had impacted him. I was stopped in my tracks by Nietzche’s thought-provoking words. Consider this:
“Nietsche was the one who did the job for me. At a certain moment in his life, the idea came to him of what he called ‘the love of your fate.’ Whatever your fate is, whatever the hell happens, you say, “This is what I need.” It may look like a wreck, but go at it as though it were an opportunity, a challenge. If you bring love to that moment—not discouragement—you will find the strength is there. Any disaster you can survive is an improvement in your character, your stature, and your life. What a privilege! This is when the spontaneity of your own nature will have a chance to flow.’”
I can think of many situations that if I were in them, I would have a hard time “bringing love to that moment.” When we were defrauded by our business manager, whom we had trusted for 17 years, and were forced to close our business, I prayed for her every single day for the following year. I don’t know that that qualified as “bringing love to the moment.” I considered it as protecting myself from becoming bitter. Maybe if I had considered it as “bringing love to the moment,” it would have been an even more powerful action.
I can think of examples of situations where people brought love into the equation in difficult circumstances. Some years ago in Atlanta, a woman was taken hostage in her apartment by someone who was running from law enforcement. She very gently talked to this young man, encouraging him about his life and about not acting in ways that were destructive to himself and his future. She succeeded in convincing him to turn himself in.
Or I think of the true story told in the movie The Pursuit of Happyness, where the struggling salesman, Chris Gardner, is left by his wife and remains the sole parent caring for their preschool son. Behind on the rent, he is evicted and left homeless while still responsible for the child. Despite obstacle after obstacle, he manages to get through an unpaid internship with Dean Witter and becomes a successful stockbroker.
When I explored his back story, I learned that he had had a dreadful childhood: an absent father, an abusive stepfather, stints in foster care several times. Despite that, his mother had positive influence. He recalled her telling him “You only have yourself to depend on. The cavalry ain’t coming.” She encouraged him to never give up. So both Gardner’s mother and later Gardner were able to bring love to their circumstances.
Striving to bring love to the moment seems a worthy but daunting pursuit. Such a different attitude would seem to offer the possibility of some altered results, the “spontaneity of one’s nature having a chance to flow.”
May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter. Shalom, Kate
Hope’s Café Bonus: One of my favorite quotes: “Things turn out best for those who make the best of how things turn out.”