Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.
I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn't make any sense.
- (Sufi Poet Rumi)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Common Sense for the Common Good

Mounting scientific and archeological data supports the idea that humans evolved to be both collaborative and competitive – to seek self interests as well as interests of others. We have it in us to place a high priority on our own needs, as well as on the needs of others. What then do we do when self-interest competes with other interest, or we perceive that it does? When this happens to you, do you blame others for “not doing their share,” yourself for being “selfish” or for society being beyond redemption? Do you end up choosing between self-interest and other interest, and also losing connection with others, yourself, and your deepest dreams and longing?

I believe that there is another way. Common sense suggests, as does my experience, that there is a way that self-interest can align with other interest, and that is when I strive to meet my needs while also considering the needs of others. Pursuing the common good benefits all people, indeed all beings, without diminishing any ones needs. When two friends, a family, a community, a congregation, or a society or nation can put the common good (equally considering everyone’s needs) in the forefront, we will find that we have abundant resources and creativity to build better relationships and experience more beautiful and joyful moments, and hence realize the beloved community. This is my prayer not just for the future, but now, in the very next thought and conversation you and I have. May it be so. Blessed Be.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Faith Without Works

I heard a sermon from Unitarian Univeralist minister Rev. Christine Robinson today as a podcast and was struck by something she said – “faith without works dies” (, April 6, 2009 sermon ). By this she means that if we don’t act on that in which we put faith, the bedrock of meaning and hope in our lives will dwindle away. I wonder what you have faith in? Perhaps it is that we are here to serve? Maybe you feel that love is the highest aspiration of human relationships and endeavors? You might also say that you have faith in God, Unitarian Universalism, human possibility, or Compassionate Communication. In any of these value rich professions of faith, what actions live out the deep core of your being? What is the dream of living in this world, and how can you help make it so?

Perhaps you are unsure how to have faith, for love seems so far away or hard to do. Serving others doesn’t seem to make any difference. Maybe God, your congregation, people you know, or the 4 steps of Nonviolent Communication have failed you. How can one have faith in one’s deepest longings and dreams when it just doesn’t work out the way you want it to, or need it to?

Here’s the paradox for me. Faith isn’t to “work out” or “produce results.” But resting in faith, connecting to that divine energy of belonging and being beyond wrongdoing and rightdoing, can nourish you to do work based on this faith without being attached to outcomes. In this way your faith can grow as you cocreate with life around you. By resting in our faith, we can feel how life’s call is a clear bell sounding full of promise, an invitation to joy, and in the parlance of nonviolent communication, the bittersweet a request that may or may not produce results.

I sometimes find myself feeling overwhelmed thinking of the heart and body ache in this world. I can either work too hard to try to save the world and wear myself out, or not even want to venture out of the house because the “to do” list is too long, too demanding, “too important.” If I rest for just a few minutes, as I am doing now, letting my feelings of sadness or despair connect me to my needs, values, and longings, I find my spirits uplifted and prepared now to put myself out there into the world, working to build upon my faith, and maybe, just maybe, to build the beloved community.

In faith,


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Judge Not, Want Not.

When we judge someone else we are living out our human evolution by discerning how the other person is meeting our needs. Are they friend or foe? Will they compete or collaborate with me? Will being with them cause me to lose more energy than I will receive in return? Is this relationship worth engaging? Though judging and discernment is natural behavior, too often our judgment surfaces as more of a habitual response that harms relationships or disconnects us from life-giving conversations or actions. For instance, you might judge your parent, spouse, or child as “wrong” when they do not show up on time or clean up after themselves. Your response might be to withdraw from relating, or retaliating with verbal domination or violence. There is another way.

When you find yourself judging another, concentrate on what the judging says about your values and dreams. Our judgment about another says more about us than anyone else. Maybe you are irritated because your spouse did not do something he or she said they would, such as cook dinner. This tells you have a need for support, sustenance, ease, and dependability. Rest for a time in the energy of these needs without trying to fix the situation. Then consider the needs of your spouse in this situation. What needs were they attempting to meet? Perhaps some of the same ones apply, as well as fun, diversion, autonomy, and balance.

The hope is to open your heart to the full humanity of the other person, and to learn more about yourself and the other. When strategies for meeting needs to do not satisfy both parties, you encounter a wonderful chance to learn what values are important, what you long for, and how healing it can be to hold the other person tenderly in your heart as a precious being. Out of this spaciousness and presence, relationships can flow more from love and possibility, than from constricting unfulfilled expectations. Do you believe this? Try it and judge for yourself.

With the hope of healing,


Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Hard Decree

A Hard Decree

On the Tavern wall
A hard decree for all of love’s inmates
Which read:
If you heart cannot find a joyful work
The jaws of this world
Will probably
Grab hold of your

This morning I am thinking of joy and work. Do you find joy in what you set for yourself to do? If not, I wonder if you have this litany in your mind’s chatter: I must do this for people are depending on me? I have to do this because it is what my responsibility as parent, friend, colleague, and employee? I should be doing something else because the world’s fate is entirely in my hands!

Hey, I’ve got some of that chatter too. Yet I wonder what is this wondrous life for? Why do we know beauty? Love? One another? If not for joy, than what else?

So how do we get to joy in the daily routine when “things must get done” and “money earned?” How do we let go of the bite of our mind’s blaming and guilt and get to that field beyond wrong doing and right doing? Might we really lie in the sweet grass instead of being burdened down by, and as if a, sweet ass?

What if you were to imagine the needs that your work fulfills? Say housework offers order and cleanliness to you and others, parenting nurtures and supports whom you love and gives you the chance to contribute, and your job provides security, protection, and connection. I am not saying that mixed in with these needs met by your work there are not also unmet needs. What I offer is an invitation to hold still for a moment, breathe in and out several times as you rest in the energy of these needs without trying to “fix” yourself, the work, or someone else. Connecting to these needs, we connect to life in full affirmation that we belong on this planet and are worthy. Out of this blessed acceptance of ourselves and others, we give birth to the hope of freedom and of joy. No longer prisoners of “should” and “must” there arises new ways of doing the work, changing our work, and enjoying our work.

May this be so.