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, September 21, 2009

You Lie

In recent news we heard how Representative Joe Wilson from South Carolina shouted, “you lie” at President Obama during his speech on health reform to the joint congress. In the days to follow I heard much talk about this, and in people’s sharings there was a sense of despair and hopelessness that we will not be able to work things out with such disparity of views and incivility in the public realm. How can we work towards the common good if we can’t even talk to one another?

I’m guessing that if you are reading this you aren’t a member of Congress, so let me bring this sense of “name calling” to our own lives. Where do you assume bad intentions of another person when their words or actions don’t meet up with your needs and expectations? I’m guessing it’s rather often. How can we work towards the common good if we in our own lives can’t talk to another without “name calling” and assuming we know what the other person means and what they intend?

Perhaps in your own life it might be like this. A friend of yours did not show up for a date you had set to go to dinner. You think, “she doesn’t care for me enough to call,” or “she never really wanted to be with me, I’m boring. I just wish she wouldn’t lie to me.” What if you checked out your paranoia by calling her and saying that you were disappointed that you didn’t have a chance to share this planned meal together and would she be willing to tell you what happened, why she didn’t show up?” You might get responses such as “My child was sick and we had to go to the emergency room,” or “I was so depressed I could not even get to the phone to call you.” This might be an opening for honest communication and a deepening relationship, or perhaps a deepening connection to life for both of you.

If we can hold onto this dream of how to communicate with one another, maybe one day, an angry and frustrated Representative might instead call up the President and say, “I am do disappointed with the process of legislation and I wonder if you’d be willing to talk with me about your values, views, and strategies so that we might come up with a plan that serves the common good and not just our individual or party agenda?”

If we could do this, we as a people would shout not “you lie” but would shout with gladness.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I Want Both of Us

I Want Both of Us

I want both of us
To start talking about this great love

As if you, I, and the Sun were all married
And living in a tiny room,
Helping each other to cook,
Do the wash,
Weave and sew,
Care for our beautiful

We all leave each morning
To labor on the earth’s field.
No one doesn’t lift a great pack.

I want both of us to start singing like two
Traveling minstrels
About this extraordinary existence
We share,

As if
You, I, and God were all married

And living in
A tiny

In Compassionate Communication, this heart-warming poem is a wish, desire, or longing and may invite empathy and dialog. For me it is a profound invitation to engage with the wonder and awe of life, and extend as much kindness as I can out towards others because we are all so precious and all struggling so. There is a difference, however, between this poem’s wishful qualities and a specific request. A specific request goes like this: would you be willing to tell me what comes up for you when you read this poem and read my words of reflection? I may want both of us to live a life based on love, but until I ask with concrete, doable, in-the-moment possibilities, I have not made a request.

In your day-to-day life, what would a request look like that asks someone else to talk with you about a great love?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

We Are Of Love

We are of Love

In Gainesville, Florida there is a congregation that posted a sign that says, “Islam is of the Devil” on their lawn. This raised public outcry, which was further inflamed when the school year began and the children from this church were sent home from school because they wore t-shirts with the same message on them. My son who works at a local market was sitting outside during break this week when a woman wearing one of those t-shirts came up to him and asked him if he was a Christian. The woman said her message spoke the truth and the only way to God was through Jesus. My son, a devote evangelical Christian, countered that we humans cannot know the truth of how to bring people to love and to God, but we can only let love and God live through us. He said that the woman, with her two young children, would stand a better chance of witnessing for God if she didn’t wear such a t-shirt. Instead, as she spoke to him people who walked by told the woman she was racist and wrong.

This incident is perhaps a more extreme example of how we all tend to get hooked on specific strategies or outcomes. Is this true for you? By setting our sights on our way of doing things, or of being right, do you find that you lose sight of the original dream, value, or need? In this case this woman is saying that the only way to love and to transcendence is through Jesus, and anything else is wrong. Do we in our own ways feel that there is a specific path for love, compassion, and community and judge others if they don’t agree with us? What if we just set our sights on love, connect to that energy, and let go of how we do things? For instance, what if in your congregation you let love flow through you and let go of the kind of music sung, the length or tone of the sermon, or the specific methods used in faith development for children and youth. I imagine that in my own congregation and it is how I wish to live in community – not idolizing my own perspective or even that of humanity, but instead looking inward and outward towards the dream of the community forming power of love, which some give the name of God.

With this potential within us all, I believe that we as a species are not of the devil, but of God, and when are not of evil, but of love.

What bedevils me is when I get stuck in the details of what I want, instead of what sustains my family, my friends, my congregation, this earth, and me.

What sustains you? What devils are in your details?

(Tasmanian Devil)