Two Birds

I can easily understand your desire to re-marry; given your many years in that state, it’s only natural that you would feel lonely now and only natural in turn that you would keenly desire to return to what you knew.

At the risk of seeming rather cold and uncaring, however, I feel obliged to point out that it would be a mistake to hold your future happiness hostage to the contingency of finding a new partner. We do not have God’s measures and do not know what the future may bring. In the meantime, what we do know—or should know as rational beings—is that no earthly condition is permanent and that nothing of this world can ever provide us with genuine happiness. I’ve never been one to tell people “what God is trying to teach them”—how fatuous for anyone less than a prophet! But surely we can say, with due humility, that your present circumstances provide an opportunity, however painful, to engage in a more careful, existential “study” of the essence of happiness.

You ask how to “cope” with the feelings you have. You may be asking—you probably are asking, and who would not in your circumstance?—how to “dispel” the feelings. The answer is that you can’t; or rather, if you will allow me this paradox, the only way to dispel them is to stop trying. Instead just watch them—watch N., that poor, suffering being in your mirror—as she experiences this flux of emotions. “There are two birds sitting in the tree of life,” according to an Upanishad. “One eats. The other watches.” Shifting the focus of your attention so as to adopt the standpoint of the second bird, and with as little concern as you can possibly muster for the other bird’s indigestion, is the key here.

You also ask how to “quickly work” toward another marriage. As you will have gathered from all I’ve been saying, I want you to ask yourself very seriously whether this is really the goal. I’m not suggesting you should resign yourself to living as a single woman for the rest of your life. But at the same time I don’t think you’re going to find the “right man”—or not at least at the moment, given your current state of mind—by actively searching for him, any more than you will find peace from your sad feelings by trying to push them aside. Patience in both cases is necessary, leaving it to God to open up whatever earthly consolations and satisfactions He knows to be best for your soul and your continuing spiritual journey.

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