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Being on the Frontline
I have joined a discipleship group of folks
who are wrestling with the mandate of Jesus to love our enemies
because we have a sneaking suspicion
that this is not something most of us are going to be able
to learn or practice on our own…
In fact, I had to confess to the group
that I have no problem whatsoever in praying for my enemies,
in hoping for their healing and well-being,
in wishing that they find happiness and fulfillment.
What I have trouble doing is talking to them.
Loving our enemies turns out to have a lot in common
with becoming a non-anxious presence.
The only way to learn the latter is to actually put oneself
in an anxious situation and remain non-anxious for as long as possible.
(A lot of us start around the one nanosecond mark
and need to work up from there.)
It seems pretty clear that I am not going to learn
to love my enemies as long as I keep them at a distance;
I am actually going to need to be close enough to them
to hold a conversation.
I only mention this because I suspect
we are all going to need to learn to do this
if we are going to heal this country after November 8.
There is a danger in self-sacrifice –
the danger is in thinking that our self-sacrifice
is going to fix the world…
(…fix it the way we want it to be fixed, of course.)
Howard Thurman offers this antidote:
Don’t ask what the world needs.
Ask yourself what makes you come alive
and then go do that.
Because what the world needs
is people who have come alive.
I have always had
a kind of love-hate relationship
I find them unbelievably practical and intensely annoying
in about equal measure.
Christina Rosalie has given me a new perspective.
Listlessness is a literal state of affairs if you think about it,
and when I begin to feel wanderlust spreading through me
like a fever…I make a list of real intentions.
Just like that, what you list for, you can move toward.
Her annual discipline is to make a list on her birthday
of things to accomplish before the next birthday:
33 when she turned 32, 40 when she turned 39.
(She may want to start working backwards when she turns 60
and choosing only 59 things, and 57 when she turns 62…)
But she invites me to look at a list as a cherished companion
rather than a brutal dictator.
Being (not the) Best
Question: When is it dangerous to be the best?
Answer: When you it isn’t true.
Raise your hand if you have heard that the United States
has the very best health care system in the world.
As it turns out, Wrong.
We are the most expensive.
We do have more innovations than other countries.
We do have more extraordinary hospitals and techniques,
but when it comes to health of the population
(which is presumably the point of health care – yes?)
we rank well down the list.
What is really dangerous is that
as long as we keep telling ourselves we are the best
and have the best and do the best,
we will believe we have nothing to learn from the
second best or the third best or the twentieth best
(all of whom have healthier populations than we do –
and herd health, like herd immunity, is real and important.)
Here is the thing:
how many ways do we believe that what we have is
the finest, richest, smartest, safest, most advanced,
most ecological, most responsible, most progressive?
I invite you to identify one of your foundational assumptions
about what you are doing or thinking or buying
and go find out if it is really true,
or is just a comforting illusion.
I am living on the edge of panic
and, at the same time, on the edge of amazement.
I listen to almost daily to a woman
who has been through the wringer more than once;
a woman who has been reviled, dismissed, demeaned,
and attacked for at least three decades;
a woman who continues to maintain a positive message
and who continues to give unmeasured service to her country…
And I am humbled.
I don’t believe I could do what she has done without bitterness
and anger and fear and despair.
Which reminds me of another person who
faced into her own fragile mortality in the face of hatred and attack.
She said this,
It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals,
because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out.
Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything,
I still believe that people are really good at heart.
This penultimate day of the season of Lughnasadh
provides a wonderful opportunity to gather up the blessings
that have come to us during the past three months.
Here in the United States, the past year has been a time
of increasing anxiety and polarization…
Many of us find ourselves screaming inside
(and sometimes at one another).
This means it is even more important to identify the abundance
of joy, wisdom, love, delight, wealth, healing, and hope
that have also filled this time – perhaps unnoticed in our fear or anger.
Here are some of mine to get you started:
* the full-moon night when two owls sang to one another outside my window
* the joy of celebrating four ‘0′ and ‘5′ September birthdays with family
* the bag of sage leaves from a friend when my own sage plant died
* the challenge and delight of preaching again after a long break
* finding the courage to seek help for my depression
What startling wisdom emerged for you?
What adventure called you to walk a new path?
What bounty flowed to you from an unexpected source?
What inner bounty did you share with others?
Take a moment to re-center and re-align with goodness and strength
before you cross into the new season.
Fare You Well, Lughnasadh
Today is All Hallows’ Eve and it is the threshold
we cross from Lughnasadh (the autumn quarter)
into the Celtic new year which begins with
the first day of Samhain (the winter quarter).
As a ritual thanksgiving for the lessons of the season we are leaving,
I invite you to bid Lughnasadh farewell at the back door of your home
at sunset or moonrise this evening.
You are of course, welcome to use your own words
or to stand in silence, or to ignore the moment entirely.
I enjoy slowing down enough to celebrate these thin times
and these are the words I will be using.
reaping golden nurture
from furrows birthing extravagance,
accept the fruit and grain of my growth
to be benediction and affirmation,
to be gratitude for the seasoning of this cycle.
Receive my heartfelt thanks
for life-giving energy that set me ablaze
with crimson joy and pumpkin glory,
and now, quietly deepens,
softening me into rest.
Fare you well as you journey
collecting the seeds of harvests
yet to be sown.
Fare you well.
Text © 2016, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photos © 2015, 2016 Immram Chara, LLC