our duties to one another



A perfect man would never act from a sense of duty; he’d always want the right thing more than the wrong one. Duty is only a substitute for love (of God and of other people) like a crutch which is a substitute for a leg. Most of us need the crutch at times; but of course it is idiotic to use the crutch when our own legs (our own loves, tastes, habits etc.) can do the journey on their own. ~ C.S. Lewis, Letters of C. S. Lewis

Pleasure and desire are a natural guidance system that directs organisms toward food, warmth, sex, and other things that meet their needs. Are we to imagine that we are exceptions to nature’s way? Are we to imagine that we’ve graduated past that guidance system, moved to a higher realm in which pleasure is no longer ally, but enemy? No. That is a thought form of Separation. The guidance system of pleasure words in us too. It does not stop at the basic animal needs of food, sex, and shelter. In all its forms, it guides us toward the fulfillment of our needs and desires, and therefore to the unfolding of our potential. ~ Charles Eisenstein, The More Beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible

But obligation, I eventually saw, is not the same as commitment, and it’s certainly not an acceptable reason to stick with something that isn’t working ~ Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit

This week we discussed duty. We tried to make a distinction between the duties given to us by others versus those that we give ourselves or, to put it more finely, the obligations that are essential to who we are. This is not an easy task. Most writers recognized that the two are not mutually exclusive: that those that exist in relationship with others are often guided and refined by who we are. We all struggled to distinguish a duty of ours that is essential to us that exists independently of our relationship to others. In a sense, we are all connected by both our relationships and duties that hold them together.

In the writing below, you will hear a combination of these obligations woven together across the voices within the group.


Duties take different forms throughout my life. Not very long ago my most important job revolved around kissing boo-boos and making the right voices for bedtime stories. I am not there to magic away the pain of pinched fingers. Someone else is reading stories and tucking blankets in tight.

I am a Mom. I am their Mom. It is impossibly hard to adjust to parenting by phone. So much is missed. So much I can’t control. The one thing I can do is endure this time here with as much strength and grace as possible, to make lemonade every day so that one day when those girls find life hard to bear, I can show them it is survivable. If I can only manage to become the phoenix from the ashes of my life, then perhaps I can still be magic for later wounds.

That’s what it means to be their Mom. I can’t ever give up as easy as it would be to lay my head and rest. I love them. I will walk the hardest road and survive just to show them how. I will be the example that it is never too late or too hard. That my words are but expressions but my actions loved them truly.




I’m tired of walking on my knees.
Prayer only makes me feel better
for so long. Can you even
hear me? Do you even exist or
is a god a myth? Just another man
on the moon story, a version that someone really
got carried away with. When I
have been nothing but faithful and
loyal to you. I sin faithfully almost
every day and supposedly you will
always forgive, love, and believe in

Maybe I’m tired of waking up day
after day wondering when
the pain will stop. When will the
suffering end? My heart is as heavy
as my thought. The struggles
keep me in wanting. Hurt
is a feeling I have come to
live with.




My mind sees to always race
going through phases of the present,
phases of things past,
phases of what is to come.
I wonder, where do I start?
I have a duty to be good to myself,
never again to fall at the hands
of a very imperfect man,
one who used me as his crutch.
I was the substitute for his legs.
He felt he had no duties to fill
except for bossing me around.
His warped mind always had a
sense of wanting the wrong thing,
never had the common sense of
what was the right thing.
My sacrifice was being
an idiotic crutch.
My journey from now on
will be an adventure, exciting, new.
My imagination is unlimited.
Being home, even being alone
but never will I feel lonely.
Never will I be someone’s
idiotic crutch.


. . . and you?

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