Beloved

This morning in meditation, I heard and saw a presence — I couldn't tell whether it was a woman or a glow of clear light — uttering the word "beloved." I usually don't see visions and don't particularly like the word beloved because of its overuse and sentimentality. But this time, this morning, it caught my heart.

Beloved.

I used to think, I probably still do, that you can tell right away when someone has felt loved by their mother. There is a confidence in her. Or him. A certainty that she/he belongs here. Is cherished. That no matter what, everything will be okay even when it's not okay.

That was not the case for me. And I would imagine for some or many of you. Not feeling cherished in the earliest years can lead to feeling as if you don't belong here. That there is no one here for you, that you are alone. It doesn't always manifest consciously, sometimes it stays hidden and comes out in trying very hard to belong, to be cherished, to be lovable. But in the end, if you don't believe in yourself, no amount of love from out there can unwind the lie that you are uncherishable. That you don't belong. That something is wrong with you. It is an inside job.

So, this morning, when I felt the resonance of the word beloved, I also felt a kind of sadness at never having known what it was like to be called beloved. To feel beloved by a mother. But right on the heels of that, I knew that it was my turn now. That, as a wise teacher keeps telling me, "I am the one I have been waiting for."

How do you call yourself beloved when you've never been called beloved? When you've never felt beloved in those earliest years?

By beginning. By singing the word. Beloved, beloved, beloved.

I am remembering now Raymond Carver's poem that I quoted at the very beginning of my book, When Food is Love. He wrote about wanting most of all, even when he was dying of cancer, to call himself beloved. To feel himself beloved. Even then, in 1991, I knew there was something important in those words. Some inner nourishment. Something I need to chant.

And now, 30 years later, the words are coming back. It's never too late. When you realize like I realize how unbelovedly I have treated myself, mostly unconsciously, and you realize like I realize there is no more time to waste, no more time in which to diminish yourself, then you realize that there is still time to call yourself beloved. To shout it from the inner regions of the heart. And to question every turn against yourself.