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Yesterday, we spent some renewing hours
at the Conservatory in Como Park (St Paul).
I never cease to be amazed and inspired
by the stunning intricacy of plant life.
I resonate to the Chinese proverb:
If you have only two pennies in the world,
buy a loaf of bread with one
and a lily with the other.
Today may you find the perfect balance
between practical necessities
and the pure grace of beauty;
may you feed both body and soul.
What might our world be if…
…instead of teaching the dates of great battles,
we taught the dates of great accords?
…if instead of teaching the causes of deadly conflicts,
we taught the transformative possibilities
What if the historical narrative we told
highlighted the times of radical welcome,
of the salvation of species and peoples,
of healing, of hope, of cooperation?
What would our world look like then?
What would it sound like?
What would it feel like?
and the justification was allegiance to Daesh.
Really? It seems a little convenient to me.
So, I began to wonder
how I choose to justify my words and actions.
How do I explain? How do I defend?
Why do I — why do any of us —
feel the need to explain, to justify, to defend?
Well, I don’t know if this resonates for you,
but I observe a consistent pattern in myself:
when I feel the need to explain or justify or defend
the justice of my actions,
it is really myself I am trying to convince.
I’m thinking it’s worth paying attention to that red flag.
Sometimes only a prayer of yearning will do. So, here is mine this week:
May my heart be soft.
May every heart be soft.
May our hearts be softened
by the despair of refugees,
…by the tears of the victims
of rape and abuse and incest,
…by the blood our LGBTQ sisters and brothers,
gunned down in their youth.
May my heart be soft.
May every heart be soft.
May the drenching sadness of the world
create furrows in our tender vulnerability:
furrows to channel hope,
furrows to shelter seeds of possibility,
furrows to blossom with
the flower of love,
the fruit of justice,
the grain of peace.
May my heart be steadfastly soft.
May every heart be steadfastly soft.
Last night, I attended a service for the victims of the Orlando shooting.
There were 50 candles at the front of the church:
Forty-nine for the women and men who were gunned down
and one for the man who held the gun.
That last candle was hard for most of us,
but as I said to my husband (who needed to lead the service),
‘It is really hard for me to see Omar Mateen as a human being,
but that was the problem all along —
he couldn’t see the people in Pulse as human beings.
Someone needs to break that cycle of dehumanizing one another.’
And the only person I can offer is me.
I am trying to be a follower of the Rabbi of Nazareth
and he told me how to live.
I am to be vulnerable to my neighbor, however painful that is.
I am not to seek separation from my enemy; I am to seek engagement.
I am not to stand in self-righteousness judgment; I am to be self-giving.
It isn’t easy.
[I wrote a longer meditation about this HERE.]
Shame is not an emotion that,
brings out the best in us.
Well, let me put it this way:
it doesn’t bring out the best in me.
And my personal experience is that shame
is something I create in my own head
when I think someone else in judging me negatively.
Without an instant reality check,
I become angry, defensive, and begin to fantasize
enormously creative ways to punish
the person who has evoked that shame response.
I suspect – given recent events – that I am not alone in this.
Which leads me to believe that I (we) might
be better off if I (we) held Martha Beck’s words
closer to my (our) heart(s),
“What someone else thinks of you
is none of your business.”
Let’s agree to live today centered in our own authentic being
rather than projecting our self-judgment into our neighbor’s head.
Whoever our parents were, they paid life forward.
Many, if not most of them,
did it with grace and courage and generosity,
and, in so doing, showed us how to pay life forward, as well.
Therefore – on this Father’s Day —
may we resolve to reach farther and dare more greatly.
May we dream bigger dreams, think bigger thoughts,
build more bridges, seek more common good and common ground,
share resources more fairly,
and wage more peace.
And may we be prepared to allow (even urge)
our children to grow and live beyond the
farthest reaches of what we accomplish with our lives.
What a way to honor our fathers and mothers.
Text © 2016, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photos © 2016, 2015, 2012 Immram Chara, LLC