I have a dear friend who is 15 years younger than me and more often than not he pushes me to consider life from a different vantage point. His name is Michael.
Michael and I are unlikely friends because of our age difference and because he is a guy. But boy have we laughed, cried, argued, said I’m sorry and seen the best and the worst of each other. That happens when you work together for almost ten years.
It is uncanny to me how I will get a text from him out of the blue that comes just when I need it. It will come with a simple, “How are you?”
After working with him for so long, I can hear him asking it out loud. So when it comes in, I know he wants me to give it to him straight. He is that younger wiser brother person in my life.
This is the same guy who has made me laugh so hard I have literally needed to run for the restroom. Funny thing, when I get to that point it is usually because he has been relentlessly making fun of me and I somehow think it is just about the funniest thing I have ever heard! You might say this is when he is that younger pesty brother person in my life 😉
So I get this text from him the other day.
“In bull fighting there is a place in the ring where the bull feels safe. If he can reach this place he stops running and gathers his full strength and is no longer afraid. It is the job of the matador to make sure the bull does not have time to occupy this place of wholeness. In Spain, this safe place for the bull is called the querencia. For humans, the querencia is the safe place in the heart, the inner world. When a person finds it, they can be in full view of the matador but remain calm, at peace and wise, gathering strength.”
With a little further investigation of the word, I learned that while the bull remains enraged and reactive, the matador is the one in control. But if the bull reaches querencia, he becomes most dangerous to the matador.
The job of the matador is to keep the bull distracted, reactive, tired and confused- out of his querencia, out his place of refuge and peace, out his place where he gathers strength and presence of mind. If the matador can do this long enough, he will win the fight.
SO- YOU GUESSED IT. He somehow knew I was needing some encouragement. Uncanny to have a friend like that. (Maybe hanging out with the Pope and the Dalai Lama has given him this ability?! wink! ) Sometimes, it just seems like he is in my head.
So here’s the thing. At any given moment any one of us is the bull in the ring fighting for our life -a life full of joy, peace,and contentment, and dare I say, a life where we can be loved and belong when we are our most authentic self.
This may sound a bit melodramatic at first blush, but how often do we find ourselves dazed and confused, angry and hurt, bone weary, anxious and feeling alone? This, my friend, is a sign that the Matador is in our ring and waving the red cape in an attempt to keep us from being in our querencia.
So many things can be the Matador at any given moment- a difficult boss, a hard marriage, a chronic disease, the loss of a loved one, a life draining workplace, a self-image addicted to SMA (social media affirmation-my own shorthand for such a tragic cultural phenomena), the constant thief of joy called comparison, a troubled and suffering child, financial pressure, unresolved conflict, a driver who cuts us off and, the pimple on our chin, for heaven’s sake, the evening news… the list is endless.
So many things threaten to steal our joy and rob us of life to the full. So many things threaten to make our hearts dim and souls give up. (I know, you’re thinking, “Girl, you need a beach vacay with a tall cool sangria!” And I say, “Si, señorita! Vero! Wanna come with?”)
Whatever keeps us from sitting in silence so we miss the whisper of our own heartbeat, whatever blinds us from seeing the fingerprints of God in our life, whatever takes the place of being fully present and engaged with loving another human, whatever keeps our eyes focused on our own navel might actually be a clue the Matador is winning and we are no where near our querencia.
I happen to believe there is a real “Matador” whose job it is to wear us down by keeping us frantic, reactive, confused, isolated and so weary we’re unable to catch our breath long enough to gather our strength and joy. He works constantly to keep us anywhere but in our querencia because that is where we are most dangerous to him.
Let me rephrase that in a more positive way. When you and I are living out of the deep joy of who we were created to be, when we are in our sweet spot, when we are expressing our unique gift(s), when we discover life is fullest in the moments when we give ourselves away, when we are aware that we are deeply loved and cherished by the One who gave us life, that is precisely when the Matador fears us the most! This, my friend, is your querencia.
Here is the rub. Querencia requires time, silence, rest and relationship (and who has the luxury of those things in this crazy busy life we all are living?!#$@).
Back to our poor friend the bull. Querencia for the bull is a place that develops during the fight. He doesn’t go into the ring knowing where it is. He has to find it in the midst of pressure and taunting from the Matador, but he knows he must find it if he is to survive.
I too often have underestimated the power of finding this place of refuge and strength. In reality, querencia is a gift that only the fight can help you discover.
Honestly, I had to be forced to discover my querencia when nothing else seemed to be working during some pretty dark and scary times. (Not even a beach vacay or a tall cool sangria seemed to make things better!)
It was only during this seemingly unending bullfight that I made the space and time to sit in silence on a regular basis and listen for the whisper of my own heart and voice of God. It became my sacred space of refuge and rest. Finding my querencia was the only way I was able to receive Divine gift and treasure in the facing down of the Matador (and quite frankly, I think there are now more days in which he feels nervous!).
Time. Space. Rest. Silence. Careful listening. Relationship. Querencia! Where the gift of life to the full can be discovered in the midst of the fight for your soul.
By way of full disclosure, there are days I don’t make it to my querencia. These are the days when I do my best to keep the conversation running with Jesus. It mostly goes like this, “Hey! I could really use your help down here cause the Matador is in the ring and I am snorting, sweating and panicked and ready to run full steam ahead unless I hear otherwise!”
Guess what? God finds me in that place, too and eventually I find myself craving querencia, my place of rest, refuge, clarity and belonging so much that all of the other noise gets put in its proper place….
The day my dear friend, Michael, sent me this quote was one of these days. Querencia.