Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Thursday, August 21, 2014
For the last four weeks – or so – I have sat in church services focusing on community; the need for community, the role of community, what community is supposed to look like, what the leadership wants it to look like.
Every service, every week.
We all leave the services nodding our heads affirmatively, hoping in our hearts that this would be true – but knowing deeper down in our hearts that it is not.
For the last five years, I have been a regular “member” of what I consider to be a bit like the “community” the leadership keeps espousing, coming together with a group of somewhat likeminded people and talking about various aspects of life.
It’s all good when we can agree. It’s great when we can write prayer requests on the board and someone prays for the request in class. We all leave feeling somewhat lifted, maybe even heard.
But what happens when someone shares real life stories that include pain and despair? How do members of the “community” respond once the doors of the church are closed until the following week when even more desperate needs for support creep in?
My experience hasn’t been all that stellar, I gotta say – and I think I am going to scream if one more person talks about the importance of community – while ignoring the deep personal needs of the one sitting next to them
for five years.
Not that I am whining. I am just being honest. I keep thinking of this repeated empty push for “true community” that of course sounds good, but in practice … well, I am not sure we YET truly understand what it means
– or maybe I don’t.
Our discomfort with mess is never more telling than when someone shares a truth we would rather not hear, for all kinds of reasons. We are drawn to easy, comfortable, convenient shoes, clothes, food – and relationships. We love finding things in common with other people, laughing together, shared values, mutual admiration.
But our lives don’t go the way of comfort for too long. Eventually, we begin to notice differences – and more differences, interspersed with the things we initially had in common. Suddenly it seems like work just being together. We’d rather believe the romanticized version of loving our neighbor as we love ourselves.
Lots of times, as we all know, relationships end over the differences rather than grow on the strengths of the in-common. We dump those people whose challenges are too great, too time consuming, too painful to be shouldered through the dark valleys. My truth, after all, is scary. Your truth is scary. When we start to meet another human being in truth, it can be freakin scary as it triggers something deeper in each one of us. I read recently, “Truth has bad breath at times. Truth is boring. Truth burns the food. Truth is all this stuff. Truth has anger. Truth has all of it."
The quote went on to say, "And you stay in it. You keep working with it, you keep opening to it, and keep deepening it."
But we aren't taught that. Instead, we trade up spouses, friends, churches, neighborhoods, political parties - even countries! We dump people who become more challenging - sometimes in their darkest hours.
And we keep asking, When am I going to find the place, the person, the experience where this doesn’t occur? When will I find a person, a community, that will not dump me when it goes from fun to scary, from challenge-free to challeng-ing? From a loose group of individuals who all desire the same thing at our core and truly fulfills the true essence of community?
What kind of environments are we creating, am I creating? Am I accepting of the challenges that are guaranteed to rise in friends, family, the person who sits in front of me every single week at church, school or at my job? Do I feel accepted with mine? Do I even care what they are going through? Do they even care about me? Is that acceptance and caring what it is meant by community? Instead of leaving people when the going gets tough, do we simply need to learn how to better support them, especially in their darkness, during their suffering that makes us feel uncomfortable?
After four weeks of hearing about community, the question remains: What IS our obligation to being a member of a particular community - to our fellow humans whose physical presence already indicates a shared journey? Are we obliged to help take care of one another? What happens when we end up feeling burned or burned out by the impurities of the community in which we reside?
I am less interested than ever in communities that look more like country clubs, friendships that embrace only my strengths. With that comes a deeper understanding that I, too, will be called upon at inconvenient times to enter into people's personal pain as readily as I enter into those times when they make me feel good about life. If I am uncertain how to respond, or afraid to respond, or don't have the time or the skills to respond, I want to respond regardless. I must reach out to others if I want them to reach out to me ... especially when I see they may be suffering. Anything less in a community of so much need is unconsciously - or maybe even consciously dismissively ignoring the existence of a fellow human being.
... You stay in it. You keep working with it, you keep opening to it, and keep deepening it.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Today, we miss him.
Monday, August 11, 2014
Saturday, August 09, 2014
Monday, August 04, 2014
I'm was sitting at the Olympic Grill on Court Street, reading about the true essence of love. The quote from Ram Dass above moved me, challenged me as it stretched my understanding of my own identity. What is more talked about, sung about, written about - longed for - than love? It seems to lie within the very core of every being.
Yet we know so very little of what it is - how to capture it, make last, find it, let it go. It seems never far from our thoughts, our actions, our ponderings.
While considering how often my own attempts at love are thwarted by ego, I suddenly became very aware of the number of times I was called "Sweetie" from the waitresses who greeted me at the door, who filled my endless cup of coffee, who wanted to make sure my every desire was fulfilled - at least in terms of my appetite. Every pass by my table included some warm and endearing term that each time warmed my heart. Even the owner stops by to greet me and call me "Beautiful."
I saw them that morning.
Each time our eyes met and I responded with a how-could-I-not smile, I felt something unlock or connect or melt. And I thought how could it be that while pondering this stretched idea of love, that I find myself on this playground of unmerited affection and love? While it was true that I was a customer, it is equally true that not all businesses have such common approach to treating those they serve with such affection.
Thinking of those souls at Olympic the other day, I told Isi and Janelle how I wished I could be so free as to call everyone I met "Sweetie" or "Beautiful." And I remember my friend once telling me that her brother treated every single woman he ever met like she was the most wonderful person in the world.
Indiscriminate. Unmerited. Free-flowing.
Ram Dass and other spiritual teachers write often of an unconditional love that goes far beyond our human abilities. It comes from something far greater than ourselves, far more graceful than our too-often injured egos. And while we think others bring it to us - or take it from us - love is actually within us, deposited there by a God who designed us to experience love with one another. If another unlocks our love, we too often confuse them as the source rather than merely a key to finding the love that resides inside us - and all around us.
Sunday, August 03, 2014
In so many ways,
they are my heart.
They are my soul.
And I have yet to find a single parenting book or article that articulates this amazing experience in a way that resonates with me.
Tonight, I stumbled upon this, in an old classic Be Here Now.
It moves me so.
"Oh Holy Family
And as the children who are the fruit of the union appear, see them as divine avatars, holy beings who have come recently from our true HOME to teach. Nourish and feed them as they feed you. Listen for their tone, see their ray so as to help them fulfill their spiritual destiny, provide a matrix for their consciousness. Great care must be taken to guide the entity on this plane. Choose carefully the initial impressions which they will be registering as you would the food they eat. They are the hope and destiny of the universe. Respect and honor them. Guide them clearly. Keep the home calm and free of chaotic inputs. Let love burn in all the lamps. Thru all of this face and cope out the difficulties. For the woman there will be the heavy pull of the earth element. The children will feel any psychic withdrawal on her part. She must find a place a little removed for deep meditation. When they wake up during meditation explain clearly what you are doing. Read them holy stories to acquaint them with spirit life so that they may remember. Keep your practice regular and the children will stay in tune. Don’t trip too far too fast or psychic disequilibrium will upset months of work. Do not sacrifice relationships with the children for what you may think is spiritual necessity."
My children are indeed divine avatars that have already changed the world for good, holy beings who within their very hearts and souls contain the destiny of the universe...
I am blessed indeed.