Spirit of Love, if I am to express the hospitality of God to all sorts of very different people, to people who seem very alien from me, then I need to learn to listen to each one of them very attentively. But how can I pretend to listen carefully to the different people I encounter if I refuse to listen to the different voices within my own heart? What chance is there of loving and respecting others if I refuse to meet and listen to the many sides of myself? How can I be a reconciler if I shut my ears to the unreconciled conflicts within myself and pretend that I have already arrived at peace?
Now I begin to see that the spiritual life is based on a basic honesty which enables me to recognize that everything I find difficult to accept, bless, forgive, appreciate in others, is actually present within myself. If I paid attention to my own heart I would hear from within many voices, expressing many needs. Perhaps that suspect old saying "charity begins at home" begins to make sense here. Could it be that I have so little charity towards others because I have so little for the many selves of myself?
~~Martin L. Smith
Smith, Martin L. A Season for the Spirit: Readings for the Days of Lent. Boston: Cowley Publications, 1991. 33-34.