Relationships are hard. Hard in a good way.  If we are in relationships that are authentic, beautiful, supportive and honest then we are also in relationships that are messy, difficult and hard work. We really cannot have one without the other.

It’s a hard question to decide when a relationship is worth the investment. If we are lucky then this is a decision we will make more than once. If we are lucky, we will have friends, partners, and family who will show up and ask it of us.

Sometime when I was in my late teens I was given a copy of Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s piece, “The Invitation”. We all get fed all kinds of information (especially around romantic relationships) about what makes a relationship real and worth the investment. I’ve always really connected with this piece as a clear way to examine my relationships and the information people give me as we deepen into that relationship.

This piece has traveled around with me, always posted some place where I will see and remember. Even though it is now tattered and splattered, it is still taped to the doorway of my office, a place where I show up to be in relationship with myself and where those I love sleep when they visit. It helps me remember the essence we all crave from each other in love.

The Invitation by Oriah
It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

By Oriah © Mountain Dreaming,
from the book The Invitation
published by HarperONE, San Francisco,
1999 All rights reserved

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