Since the New Year I’ve been referencing three characters while discussing our identity in our divine union. You should meet Lena and Judy and Trudy if you haven’t. You can find there descriptions on this page.
In the last post I talked about consenting to his creative love. Thomas Merton says we need to embrace our true self by consenting to His created love. He made us as we are and that is Holy. Like a tree is a tree we are who we are. Being who we really are is Holy. The question is do we know who we are, really? We have these competing voices and opinions within us. Our spiritual growth is to learn which ones are true, which ones are real, which ones are a divine reality. At the root of all truth is love. Divine love holds the universe together, gives our bodies life and is the ultimate reality. When we know we are loved and our Trudy can love our Judy and our Lena, we are whole. We are living the intended divine manifestation. God chose to limit himself to be us on this earth so He could see and know Himself as we see and know Him. Our finite selves are connected and inexplicably one with the infinite. This is where our Trudy is like a wave in the ocean. She isn’t the depth of the ocean but the substance of the ocean. She has access to all of the nature of the ocean but not the capacity to intellectually perceive the entire ocean. OK, that is getting pretty deep, ha ha. How about a short story?
Trudy’s parents were quite wealthy. She was an heiress of a dynasty. Trudy was 12 years old when her family took her on a Caribbean cruise. They were having such a great time with all the fun activities and food and family time. On week two of this fantastic cruise, a storm developed and the captain informed the passengers that it might get a little rough that night but not to worry since this was their newest ship and was made to withstand the strongest storms. That night was the last time Trudy saw her parents.
When the ship capsized in a rogue wave, Trudy was lost at sea. After a week the search was called off and Trudy was presumed dead. No one suspected that a small fishing boat would find Trudy still floating in her life preserver. These were poor fisherman from a remote and somewhat primitive island. Trudy recovered in the home of strangers. She was also a stranger to herself. Trudy had amnesia. She didn’t remember who she was. She didn’t remember where she came from. Either from the trauma of being lost at sea or some injury, Trudy was no longer Trudy.
Trudy’s parents never gave up hope. They traveled from island to island and to the mainland distributing flyers and posters everywhere they could think of. They didn’t find the little remote island that was Trudy’s temporary home.
A few months later Trudy’s rescuers took her to the mainland. To make money they intended to sell her into slavery. Trudy escaped. She found herself homeless and on the run. She fled to the deepest part of the city where she could hide. In this place she met another homeless girl who called herself Judy. Judy knew how things worked. Judy knew the rules. When Judy introduced herself, Trudy didn’t remember her name so she made one up. She called herself Lena. Lena and Judy became best friends. Whenever Lena needed to know how something worked, Judy would show her the ropes.
Judy wasn’t always kind. She was very forceful and often condescending to Lena. Judy recognized Lena’s naiveté and felt she had to control Lena for her own good. Judy wasn’t mean, just practical and experienced and she was sure she knew everything there was to know about the streets.
Lena learned from Judy about people and how to relate to them. She could quickly hide or smile or run away when required. She was learning how to interact with the world in a way that kept her safe (or at least safe as she could be). Judy showed her how to find food or steal food. Lena was really good at finding a gourmet meal in the trash. What people would throw away surprised her but it was her treasure now. She often found cheeseburgers, her favorite.
Lena also learned from Judy how to protect herself. Judy said staying away from people she didn’t know was the safest way to live. Lena was homeless and poor and often hungry but something inside her told her Judy was wrong. Lena wanted to be around other people. She actually wanted to help other people. She would dream of having lots of food and giving it away to the hungry people around her. These dreams were very real to her. She sometimes wondered if she might be rich in some way. She brushed it off as wishful thinking but still there was something in her lost memory that she glimpsed every now and then.
Then one day Lena was passing by the post office and saw a picture that made her come closer. She looked and was astonished to see a younger and cleaner version of herself in the picture. The flyer said she was a lost child and her name was Trudy. In a flash everything came back. She remembered the accident and her parents and her dynasty. She went to the counter and took the flyer to show to the clerk.
Trudy was returned home and she was Trudy but now something more. She didn’t forget her poor friends on the street. She went back to those streets and established a shelter to feed the hungry. She never forgot what it was like to find the best meal ever, a cheeseburger in a trash can. Trudy helped so many people. Over the years that followed her return home, she built hundreds of shelters and rescued thousands of children sold into slavery.
When she returned to the streets she didn’t find Judy. She asked about her but nobody knew who she was talking about. Years later she had a dream where she saw clearly that there wasn’t a Judy at all. Judy was her. Judy was the voice that helped her learn to be Lena. Now with Trudy fully aware, she could embrace her Judy and Lena. She knew who she really was and she was whole again.
OK, maybe a silly story but it is our story. We think we are a Lena listening to a Judy. It is like we have amnesia to Trudy. We forget that we are of a divine origin and are God’s divine manifestation on the Earth. We falsely assume that our Lena is real and ignore Trudy who is the only truth. We live a false life when we could be living a real life as our real selves. Finding our Trudy identity who loves our Lena and Judy into wholeness and reality is our liberty from a false reality.
Maybe this little story sheds light on another aspect of “life.” So often we think “why is this happening to me?” In a superstitious way we blame God for what is happening to us. In this story, life threw Trudy a wicked curve ball. Still as Lena, Trudy learned so much. She learned the treasure of a simple meal when you are hungry. She learned the generosity of helping others. She learned how children can be mistreated. She learned that survival without a home can make us do what we must to survive. She learned how wonderful it is to find a cheeseburger in a trash can.
Now as a healthy and loved and safe Trudy, she can embrace what she learned as Lena and Judy. Think about the paradox of it all. Who knows more about how far a dollar will go, someone who has plenty or someone who has little? Now what happens when someone who has lived with little now has plenty and has the heart of Trudy? This is what happens to us when we discover we are God’s children. We discover that we are God’s divine projection on the Earth. We discover that stuff happens and there isn’t an angry God manipulating people’s lives. We learn that our God is love and is us and we are His love here for each other. We have abundance beyond imagination. We can love and never run out of love.