Desire is a tricky thing.
- To desire feels dangerous because we might not get what we want.
- To desire is risky because, when expressed, is too much for the people in our world.
- To desire reveals the dulled desires of those in our midst.
- To desire means that we see ourselves of worth.
- To desire calls us to foresee a future that is better than what we have now.
- To desire requires that we actually believe we are deserving of that which we seek, even demand.
Some even say:
- To desire is entitled or arrogant.
- To desire is privileged or elitist.
- To desire is assumptive and arrogant.
- To desire is to be ungrateful for all that we have; to somehow be demanding of even more.
I completely disagree.
The biggest risk is not our desire itself, but that we do not desire enough!
We are far too easily pleased. We somehow believe that our desires will never come to be, anyway. And so, we choose to believe that we’re better off hedging our bets, playing it safe, and toning things down.
I completely disagree. Did I mention that?
Here’s the thing: the heart, when listened to and trusted, will have none of this! Nor should you.
One of the many ancient, sacred stories I so love tells of a woman’s desire. And surprise! It’s not Eve (though hers does, of course – in beautiful and to-be-trusted ways).
This woman was so determined in the expression and sustenance of her longing, that a priest saw her praying and was convinced she was drunk. He reprimanded and shamed her. But she was not to be stopped. In fact, just the opposite: she boldly and blatantly persisted. She held on. And ultimately? Well, ultimately, finally, her desire was fulfilled.
Instead of desire’s diffculty slowing or stopping her, it grew in power and force until she could not, would not be denied.
[A brief intermission: Lest you think I am saying that if you just desire enough, your every desire will be met, think again. (That would be a lovely formula, wouldn’t it?) What I am saying is this: Her desire remained intact without its fulfillment. And it is THIS to which she calls us.]
It is to this that she calls you. Longing even more instead of letting go. Persevering instead of settling. Fanning desire’s flame instead of dousing it. Holding on no matter what.
Desire for desire’s sake is what matters most.
Listen to her voice (as I imagine it). She speaks on your behalf:
Oh, the beauty of your desire! The stronger and fiercer and more tightly held, heaven rejoices and earth stands still in reverential awe. Know this: the object of your desire is not as important as having and holding on to desire in the first place. Desire for desire’s sake is what matters most. The act and art of desiring causes your body temperature to rise, your pulse to quicken, your heart to beat, your life-force to surge, your voice to swell, and your very presence to make a visceral, unmistakable and impossible-to-ignore mark on this world. Believe me, I know all about this. I am Hannah, and YOU are my daughter, my lineage, my kin.
I know all-too-well the temptation to tone down my desire. But that has not served me – ever. Nor does it you. Hannah’s story reminds us that perseverance makes a difference, that faith matters, that hope must endure, and that desire – whether fulfilled or not – is a force to be reckoned with. Desire is what makes us – you and me – a force to be reckoned with.
So go ahead: want more, pray more, long for more, desire more. Less is, well, just less. And that is not to be your fate.
[A version of this post appeared in April of 2016. When I came across it, I realized I do not feel any differently – for myself or in regards to what I desire for you.]