I am certainly guilty of this… sometimes I can only see the “eye” in this picture; sometimes I see a butterfly wing. And, when I am whole, awake and aware, I see both clearly. The point of view colors the the way we see our world, our friends, our universe, our God.
I found the following in today’s email reflection from Richard Rohr:
We seem to think God will love us if we change. Paul clearly knows that God loves us so we can change. The only people who change, who are transformed, are people who feel safe, who feel their dignity, and who feel loved. When you feel loved, when you feel safe, and when you know your dignity, you just keep growing! That’s what loving people do for one another–offer safe relationships in which we can change. This kind of love is far from sentimental; it has real power. In general, you need a judicious combination of safety and necessary conflict to keep moving forward in life.
This is a “thank you” to those who have given me the time and space to feel safe, to feel I do have dignity and let me know that I am loved. I’m not going to name names, but I do thank you. I only hope that I can bring these things to someone else.
So, I couldn’t help myself this morning (not that I tried very hard) — simply had to add my two cents worth when a friend posted this picture on Facebook with a comment about “would you wear this shirt?”
My first response was a long the lines of:
the second part of this is “love thyself” — my overweight self, my angry self, my happy self, my addicted self…
And that is true, to me. If I love my neighbor as myself, then I’d better love myself or the neighbor won’t be very pleased with how I “love” them. I’ll despise and hate those neighbors that remind me of the parts of myself where I am still at war with myself.
I felt ok about posting that thought in a public place.
Her brother took exception to the sentiment on the shirt, pretty much calling it PC BS. He stated that it is a two-way street, and we certainly don’t need to love those folks (groups represented on the shirt) especially when they are out to harm us. He said he would never wear the shirt.
Love your neighbor… doesn’t seem to be optional for a Christian (and I suspect for people of other faiths as well) to love your neighbor. There is no mention of how your neighbor feels about your or how your neighbor treats you. I totally agree that people have a right and a need to feel safe and to exercise judgement in relationships. Sometimes love can be really tough, and not all fun — ask any parent of a teenager. But, loving your neighbor isn’t optional.
The best thing about the exchange this morning is that is certainly helped me to understand my own beliefs. It helped me to look at my strengths and my shortcomings. And, I pray that I was able to express my own beliefs and hopes without destroying someone else. After all, we are called to love our neighbors.
A week or so ago at a funeral I listened as a son stood and offered his memories and reflections on his father and his father’s life. Much of it was the very personal, but very normal, memories of events which brought smiles from the family and friends that knew Bob well. Some was history and background that added to my understanding of the man whose life we were celebrating. And then, the son hit that place where the voice cracks, and the words are difficult to push out. In one of those profound, soul touching moments where you look down into a well and in shock see your own face greeting you from the mirrored surface of the water he said “I finally saw that those things I so admired and loved in my father, he saw in me.”
What a gift!
My soul was touched well beyond this particular father and son. Perhaps I can begin now to see that some of those things I so “admire and respect” in Jesus, in Christ, in God, in the Spirit are also seen by God in me. May we all truly be One in the Spirit. May those good and loving attributes be seen in each of us. And may we have the gift of recognizing it.
I’m reading “Deeper Than Words: Living the Apostle’s Creed” by Br. David Stendl-Rast. Brother David takes me places that make me uncomfortable.
If I am honest, I have to admit that the majority of the time I define myself by how well I follow the rules — my goodness, or lovability is defined by how well I keep the rules. I suspect that I am not alone in this. Br. David always seems to challenge me to look beyond. His call is to reflect on times when I was aware of belonging. He challenges me to live in the now, and to find Me (well, to find “I”). The title of this blog reflects this: Journey to myself.
The problem or discomfort comes, not from the wonderful freedom and joy of belonging (being at one with all of creation), but the fact that the moments and events in my life that allow me to see/be this seem to be the times when I have let go of the rules and forgotten to measure myself by how well I follow the rules. Some of these moments have been when I truly let go of all that I hold to be right and proper and maybe sacred. How do I know how I am doing if I lose the measuring stick?
That seems to be so fundamental — to stop the self-judgment, to be, to love and be loved. And it is often so very difficult. I find that I am torn between the freedom and letting go, and the desire to be in control and measure things out. I desire the freedom and joy, and I’m terrified by the possibility that I might be able to live that way, at least some of the time. Deacon Sam often stresses that we are “human beings” not “human doings.” I want to believe him and understand, and at the same time it frightens me a bit.
I ask myself “Why does this frighten me?”
All I can come up with at this moment is that the letting go is what Jesus describes as dying to self. Yep. Nature is full of it: a seed falls to the ground dies to its existence as a seed — it grows into a plant. A caterpillar spins a cocoon, and ceases to the a caterpillar but emerges as a butterfly. The same DNA, the same being, but different. I know the rules of being a seed or a caterpillar. I may not like it, but it is familiar.
I’ll continue with the book. I’ll continue to work at releasing my grip on what I think I can control. I will breathe. I will rest in the present. I will be what I am. And, then, I will try to remember that it’s not about winning and losing, succeeding and failing, but about being here. Now.