The Name Game

Saturday Night I went to a  New Year’s Eve party that consisted of a few families and some singles. It was a nice small gathering, and there were people there that I’d been missing as well as some I’d wanted to get to know better.

In this party we played a guessing game in which each person writes down a name that is not their own, and others have to guess which name they have written.  The lead reads the list of names twice, and the game begins.  The first person guesses. “Ralph, are you Pharoah?” someone might say.  And Ralph might respond, “No.” or “Yes.” If Ralph is Pharoah, the person who asked gets Ralph on their team and gets to guess someone else. If Ralph isn’t Pharoah, Ralph has a turn to guess. A team can consult with members. It proceeds until every name has been assigned to it’s rightful owner.

In the room there was a child who must have been three. He was all smiles and bright eyes, eager and very capable of connection and fun, and he was very interested in the game.  “I want to play,” he kept saying, and so he got to “play,” so to speak.   He hadn’t written on a paper of his own, and he didn’t even remember the names that the leader had read from the papers,  but when there was an opening he would ask a question such as, “Maddie, are you Santa?”  or “Dad, are feet-619399_640you the window?” and he had an amazing time.  Sometimes someone would ask him, “Peter, are you Superman?” And he would smile big and respond.  He was charming.

The boy only played according to what he understood, and technically,  he didn’t play by the rules. He did a great job, but he didn’t play right.  Yet he didn’t worry about that. It didn’t even cross his mind. He just played.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if more of us could be like that, I remember thinking, if I could be more like that. We just jump in and play and enjoy the experience. We don’t worry so much about doing it right or perfectly. We participate. We LIVE.

I was speaking earlier with some people about the hindrance perfectionism can be. Yes, excellent quality is good. Artistry and Mastery are good (the little boy was attempting mastery too). But  we cannot be precisely right in every little thing we do. It is impossible to be impeccable with every little detail of our existence. And many times it hinders our creativity and our life to insist upon it; it paralyzes us into inaction. This is why I love November National Novel Writing Month. We are encouraged to just write, and to edit later. So many amazing gems come out that way that would have been stifled by perfectionism. But there are many other ways to get this balance.

And then  I saw this three year old simply dive in and live.  The scene is worth meditating on.  Sometimes, it really is best to become like little children.

May your day be blessed.

Of Snow, Humanity, and Providence

Last Wednesday I was working in NE Portland when the snow began to come down.  “No problem,” I thought.  “I know how to drive in snow.”  I had, earlier, dropped my phone and it had broken.  I had been planning on getting another one on the way home, and my plan was not swayed.

I slipped a little on my way to a main road,  but turned into a parking lot and I was fine. I paused to pray and remind myself to keep the gears low, and I continued.

Traffic was slow, so slow that I decided not to take 26 West as the line toward the freeway was not moving at all.  I took the Highway 3o Exit, Vaughn Street, and headed South on 25th.  It had taken an hour and 45 minutes just to get that far in all the traffic, and I was desperately in need of a pit stop. But there was nowhere to go.

The snow on the road was packed into ice by then and, heading up 25th toward Lovejoy, I hit a little hill and could go no further. After several attempts sliding, I realized that continuing wasn’t safe, and I turned onto an untouched road and drove easily to a parking spot.

I had not been prepared to leave my car that day. I knew there would be snow, but I knew I knew how to drive in it. I hadn’t planned for this.  All I was wearing was non-waterproof boots, a simple light rain-jacket, a sweatshirt, and light pants, I pondered what I was going to do. Two days before I had, over a week early, put in my car a package of 40 hand and foot warmers for a friend to give to the homeless, so I had those.  I looked in my car for chains. What I found, among other things, was a pair of track pants that I had left in my car,  snow boots I’d bought at a garage sale three years ago and forgotten about,  a sweater,  and poster paint I needed to return to my place of work as I’d hauled it for some reason.  I found no chains. Chains would have been nice.

I took the poster paint and a brush and painted “stuck in snow” in very bold letters on a piece of paper and put it on my dashboard. I took an envelope I had in my purse and  wrote in pen, “stuck in snow, please don’t tow,” and stuck it to my back windshield wipers. I put the track pants over my own, attached footwarmers to my socks and switched to the snow boots, added the sweater to my layers, and set out. Before I even reached the sidewalk a woman walked by with dogs and I began speaking with her. I let her know I wanted to call my family and let them know I was OK.  She said she wished she had her phone on her, but I should knock on a door. “Knock on a door?”  I asked, wondering why anyone in this day and age would open a door to a stranger.

“Everyone understands a snowstorm,” she replied good-naturedly. “I’ll wait here to make sure you are safe.”

I knocked, and two young men and a woman let me use a phone and facilities. I was surprised and very thankful. Afterward I walked over to one store that I knew of in the area. The boots were too big and my feet were hurting. I was so excited by my adventurous predicament, yet  aware that I needed assistance that I spoke to everyone who walked by. I was especially intrigued by the fact that my phone had chosen today to die, and I must live by my wits.  My usual fear of annoying people disappeared with the adventure and the need.

The store had no way to give me cash from a card for bus fare, but I bought some compression socks and the man working gave me some free carbs.  He suggested that I could get cash at  Zupan’s.  As I was leaving the man added, “I don’t think the 20 is running.”  I wasn’t sure quite what I was going to do at that point.  The Max (transit train) stop that I knew of was farther than my feet were going to carry me. At some point someone said the Max might not even be running. There were cars stalled on the tracks and a switch had frozen.

At Zupan’s I bought some dinner,  an abundance of water, and got change for the bus.  The man was most likely right: the traffic  heading West into the hills on Burnside was not running, so the 20 wouldn’t be able to take me.   The people at the counter verified this.   I wasn’t sure about the Max, but I had nothing to do but try.  If I couldn’t get home, I didn’t know where I would go.  Yet I was still more excited by the adventure of it than afraid for some reason.

While I was eating my dinner, I was aware of many people coming in, sharing their predicaments about the snow or simply making it obvious by their way of moving. I heard someone advise a woman to get an Airbnb as traffic was going nowhere.  Her phone was running out of battery power and I shamelessly made it obvious that I had been eavesdropping as I offered her my phone cord. She was thankful.

Again, somehow unafraid to simply approach people whom I might be bothering, I asked a man if he could check on some Trimet information on his phone for me.  He told me he didn’t think they’d have anything but I could take the Max at a stop four blocks away. I had forgotten about the stop, and I had no idea it was so close. Relief washed through me and grew even stronger as, after I’d gotten a block away, I saw a Max go by. It was running.

While there, I spoke with some people at the stop. One woman had left her car in a place she didn’t even know if she was allowed to park. There were other stories. Everyone seemed jovial though their plans had fallen, they were cold, and they were only focused on getting home. Was it because it was an adventure? Was it because no one was alone in this?  We were all simply thankful for the Max.  One man told me that he’d checked and the trains were running every 15 minutes. Such good news!  I asked if anyone was cold and gave out my extra pair of foot warmers and a hand warmer, and we took the train together.  I commented on how friendly everyone was, and one young woman shared that she was concerned about her phone running out, and I wondered if that is why people weren’t staring at their phones.  It was a welcome change.  However, I think there’s more to it.  People were coming together to share the experience.

After I left the Max, I made my way over to the Hospital I live near. I was going to go into it and rest a while before taking the long way to my house, but I just wanted to be home.  The short way was down a steep hill, but I could do this. It would get me home quickly. I wasn’t quite sure how it was going to go, but I went.

This was a fairly deserted path. Others use it, but I hardly ever see anyone.  I made it to the top, about to go down, and I saw two figures behind me. It was a man and a woman. After chatting briefly, the man carried one of my bags of supplies while helping his lady friend and I down the hill.  At the most slippery places, a hand was there to steady me. And I made it home.

Portland isn’t very equipped for snow. We don’t salt, we have so many hills, we have more people than the roads can handle, and the temperature stays so close to freezing that it ices and melts and ices and melts creating very slippery conditions.  But in what other people considered a disaster, all I found was blessing after blessing.  An empty parking lot was there when I slid.  A parking space was there when I needed to park. Though I was unprepared, everything I needed for the snow and keeping warm just happened to be in my car, and I hadn’t prepared. I am not even one to put an item in my car a week and a half early, yet I did, and the needed warmers were there.  The woman was walking her dogs at the exact right time to help me have the courage to ask for help.  The people in the house helped me.   Helpers suddenly appeared when I needed to go down the steep hill.  And the amazing thing is, if I had had those chains, I would have been stuck in traffic for hours to come.  Everything worked out in the best way possible.

There are so many lessons for me in this.  Most of all, I was struck by what was providential.  I found out recently that my friend who was giving the warmers to those on the streets has the exact amount she needed plus one,  the others that I had used and given away that day were, all along,  destined for me to use. Sometimes what seems to be the worst situation is really the best (remember the lack of chains).   Despite whatever darkness I see in the world, so many people are still kind.   Even if I’m not prepared and not doing the absolute right thing,  or if I have a fault such as leaving things in my car,  God can work anyway. It’s not up to us doing the perfect thing or having our ducks in a row.  Joy is found in living the experience of the moment which is a gift.  And of course I can’t deny this one:  Adventure makes the heart soar.  The whole adventure, those difficult and physically painful, was a gift.

Whatever you are struggling with, may you pause to notice what good you’ve been brought today, and may you have hope.

May God bless your day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snow. December 8th

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Snow is falling. It is spreading a pure white blanket over all outdoor things. But it is not really “spreading” a pure white blanket as though it were laying down peacefully, as though it were being gingerly walked across the bed of the earth by a slow and calm parent or a helpful child. No, it is setting down wildly. The wind is blowing quickly and each individual snowflake may rise up several feet, swirl around in a circle, fall a little, travel twenty feet to the south, and rise again before falling. I honestly think the journey is what I’ve just mentioned to the third power. There is a storm out there.

The branches of the bare deciduous trees are shaking madly. The tops and ends of the needled branches of the conifers are too. If the wind can move trees like that, what might it do to a snowflake? And though the snow is dry and quick to be moved, I know there is ice under there.

Today those who are of the faith traditions that celebrate it, celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception. This means that the mother of God – the mother of Christ – was saved from original sin in her mother’s womb to create a holy temple for God when He should come as her child. The preparation for the conception of Jesus began with Mary’s own conception years and years earlier.  This is what all beliefs and prayers of Catholicism and many other traditions are, at their core: a meditation on the Incarnation – God became human.  Jesus was 100% human and 100% divine, the creator of all things becoming one of us that humanity might be elevated with more dignity, that the gap between God and man might be closed, that the rift or darkness might be broken for those who ask for almighty help and follow the answers as they come.

Yet we look around and there is still much darkness … though He came. Our prayers don’t always seem to be answered … though He came. And the feast of the Immaculate Conception carries with it a focus on purity as well, and on asking for help in attaining it that we may use no one and truly focus on what is true, good, and beautiful. Yet so many people ask and still struggle.

What is the answer then? There are many that people have given. But one answer is in the snow. It is in this particular snow: the snow out my window. It doesn’t lay down peacefully. There is no calm about the way it falls. Yet in its struggle to join the blanket that covers the earth, with all of it’s drifts and piles and smooth spaces, it does not give up. Though the wind is violent and moves it so, it continues on it’s path until it reaches rest. And it will reach rest, and the blanket will be a tranquil blanket. This is yet to come.

Hope is now nearer than it was before. Let us not give up. Let us not ask for help once or fifty times, and stop, becoming lost in hopelessness. Let us do the work. Let us look for beauty and goodness. Let us continue to try and seek and ask unceasingly for aid in our struggles and those of the earth. Let us not give up. Hope is now nearer than it was before. Now is the time. Great graces will come. Persevere.

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Someone Like Me

I have a friend named Willow. We met on a site for similar (not all the same, but similar) Myers Briggs types.  She was one of many that I met and quite liked, and one of many from Australia to boot (which of course makes her that much cooler). IMG_4872.JPG

Now as I got to know Willow the first thing I noticed was how comfortable I felt.  I came  to know that she would accept me at all times no matter what I said. She was a safe, safe harbor around whom I didn’t have to be self-conscious. I could just relax and be me.  Over time we came to realize we have much in common.  When sharing we say “me too!” too many times to count. We have many of the same insecurities, and many of the same behaviors as well.  She’s also the same “type” as I am.

For those of you who don’t know what Myers Briggs is, it’s a personality theory based on observation. Carl Jung and then a mother daughter team of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers saw that people gather more energy either from being with people or  from solitude, though both need both.  They saw that people tend to gather information more from the objects and details themselves or from the connections between these things. They saw that people make judgments based more on objective criteria and principles or more on subjective criteria and values. They saw that in dealing with the outside world people tend to prefer to perceive or make decisions.  Other than these things, people described by the same four letters may differ tremendously. We are all individuals.

I have spent my life mostly with other types and I love my friends and family who are very different. They’ve touched my life with love and loyalty and insight. I will probably also never crush on someone like me. I am fascinated by the mystery of what is other.

And, truth be told, most of my life I thought my type was annoying.  I didn’t like a lot of aspects of myself much. I thought, “I am this thing, and other people have to put up with it.”  In fact, I went to a meet-up with my same type and was expecting some of them to test my patience.

What I found was completely different. What I saw was adults with maturity. What I felt was peace.  A sense of calm enveloped the place and the people. Everyone was friendly and welcoming, a bit goofy in a fun way, and relaxed. I felt at home.

About that same time, I went to meet Willow and felt even more at home as though she were a sister or cousin or childhood friend.  I loved her animated expressions and gestures. I loved the way she wanted to see so many amazing things.  I loved how she loves people. I loved her adventure and her quiet warmth. And our conversation was like a tree with constant branches, but we never lost the trunk.

There is a little boy very similar to us as well, and I remember listening to his excited imagination and realizing what I must have been like as a child. I remember also seeing his struggles and giving my inner child compassion while I was giving compassion to him. The things I didn’t think I liked about myself I saw in him and loved them.

In  knowing these people, there has been a shift in me.  I have come to like myself more. There is something about delighting in someone who is like you that can mirror back the fact that you are a more beautiful person than you ever knew.  There is something about seeing someone amazing, and realizing how similar they are to you, that helps you to see yourself. With Willow I kept thinking, “I love that aspect of her!” And then it strikes me. “I have it too.”

I spend most of my time with people who are different, and I love the variety. But I also need to spend time with those like me. We focus a lot on accepting and loving differences. And this is a good thing, but sometimes, I think we all need someone like us too, to relax and to not worry too much about how we are coming across, to know that someone else is just as much of a weirdo or a fuddy duddy as you, you’re not alone, and maybe it’s really not so bad.  If you don’t spend time with some people who are  like you, try it if you are able, or watch a similar person on You Tube or in a movie if they are hard to find.  It is a healing thing.

May God bless your day.

A Thought on Conflict

A husband and wife are eating dinner.

“The casserole is burned,” she says without thinking. It is a statement of fact. She noticed and the words just come.

“You sometimes burn casserole,” he says.

“I don’t make that many cooking mistakes, ” she says. “Not like your cake collapse of 2012.”

They are now into a fight. What happened?

Well, he took her initial statement, “The casserole is burned,” to mean, “You can’t cook well enough.”  Then, because he felt someone considered him not good enough, he had to show that other people make mistakes too.

She took the statement, “You sometimes burn casserole,” to mean, “You don’t cook well enough either, and you do it on a regular basis.”  To which she felt the need to defend herself and point out someone else’s mistake so that she could feel normal. After all, all people make mistakes. He has, so he shouldn’t be judging her.  But he is likely going to see it as an attack again.

At this point, I bet you are wondering, “Who still eats casserole?”  “What kind of casserole?”  “Was it vegan?”

But the point is different. So many times when we have a disagreement with someone, both parties are simply trying not to look like failures. So many of us feel that others don’t find us good enough (because we don’t feel good enough) that we spend a lot of time defending ourselves in ways that come across as attacks. In this situation, no one really thought the other wasn’t good enough. They were just trying to normalize.

So we basically have a situation in which everyone is defending themselves from attack, yet no one is attacking.

When we realize that so much of what someone says isn’t about us, it is about them, it gives us freedom. So many of us are not as judged as we worry about being. I don’t know your circles and what the people in them are like, but I know that I have seen the above situation play out in people’s lives many times. (“Really? With casserole?”) I’ve seen people go back and forth merely trying to look good. Next time you are in a disagreement with someone, it’s something to consider. They probably aren’t against you at all, just feeling insecure. Maybe you can help, maybe you can’t, but just to be aware can work wonders.

May God bless your day.

P.S. They could have changed it around by laughing at the Great Cake Collapse of 2012. That would also make a good children’s book.

 

 

 

Let it Fall

Anyone out there ever get exhausted because you know how something should be, but folks aren’t listening to you? Maybe you know the truth of something, but others are not convinced, though you know it would help them. Maybe you see suffering that can be waived if people just did one or two things, or avoided doing one or two things.  Maybe in a disagreement you don’t feel heard and it is frustrating.

At some point in my life, I noticed that I ponder past conversations.  I run them around my head and think about them.  I think a lot of people do this. We go over things in our heads. We think things through later.

In the moment, a person might not want to admit anyone else is right, or a person may have an emotional reaction and not be able to listen to what you are saying.  A person may also need time to think about things, and not be asked what they think just yet.  Giving others time to think is very important and respectful thing.

I am sure you’ve heard, “Trust God with those you care about.”  This is true. I’m sure you’ve heard that we can’t control anyone. This is also true. But one thing that helps this is to realize that what you share may be planting a seed that will later come to sprout when you aren’t even around.  I’ve found much peace in realizing I can make a statement, a case, or tell a story with a point, and just let it go, knowing it will be pondered later if it needs to be. It is something that has helped me do much more letting go and brought a lot of peace.

May your day be blessed.

Stuff and Vulnerability

Once upon a time, I had a friend. He was a man that I spent quite a bit of time with. I thought it might lead to dating, but it never did. I had the courage to ask him later why.  “You didn’t let me help you organize your closet,” he said.

Yes, I am the sort of person who has a lot of trouble figuring out where to put “stuff.”  He is the sort of person who gets it. I needed his help. But I wouldn’t let him in.

I have had close friendships since where I did let someone in to help me organize. That was scary. One friend went through all the stuff with me, and for that I am eternally grateful.  Another friend helped me back when I was coming home from graduate school. I didn’t know what items should be packed with what other items, and she went along making piles… this goes with this goes with this… and so fast! I was amazed.

In those experiences our friendship grew stronger.  We can’t be close to anyone without vulnerability. And that is scary.  It is scary to be vulnerable. It takes time to do it in a healthy way, but still, for a relationship to survive, it must be done. Nothing will thrive forever if one is hiding who they are. We don’t have to (and shouldn’t) tell everyone everything, but the nature of disclosure should match the type of relationship.  The level of trust should match the level of closeness. Otherwise it won’t survive.

That means that we also need to make ourselves trustworthy.  Do we “help” our friends, children, and significant others, trying to jump to quick solutions that make them feel like a burden not worthy of our time?  Do we let them know that their feelings are valid, and together work out a solution after they know they are not crazy?  Are we giving little hints that someone is not good enough? Are we making controlling statements without realizing it, or are we letting them be who they are?

If anyone reads “Sacred Space” from the Irish Jesuits (They are good. Trust me), you will see that their reading for this week is that Jesus shows by the fact that he reaches out to prostitutes and the people on the margins of society, that he loves people where they are at. This trying to be perfect thing is useless, though he can take us through healing and guidance to the best version of ourselves eventually. Still, this trying to be perfect thing is doesn’t get us there. He loves us in our brokenness.

Can we love each other and let ourselves be loved in our brokenness and imperfections? Real relationships that are beautiful and lifegiving will flow from this.

May your day be blessed.

 

Traffic Court

Last wconfused-147435_640eek I went to traffic court. Why? Well I hadn’t seen a speed sign when it went from 45 to 30 and I was photographed and ticketed. Oh Sadness.

I figured it would take me about an hour and a half at most, and I could return to work. So there I went, showing up at my appointed time, sitting down and then, something amazing happened. We were enveloped in some sort of time vortex. Everything in that courtroom slowed down: the judge’s pauses in between words, her ruffling through papers, all slowed down by seventy percent at least. When each person was called up, they spoke as slowly as a shy toddler, using every extra word that can be imagined. I’d never seen such a thing.

First came a teenager. I don’t remember what he said, but the ceiling fans were interesting.

Then came a worker.

“My ticket is in the name of Jabba the Hut,”

“Are you the one who was driving?”

“In a way I was, but in a way it was Jabba’s car.”

Would you like Jabba to pay the ticket or you?”

Ummm. Yeah … so … But I don’t want Jabba to get in trouble. And … well … I don’t want to ruin the good name of … you know … Jabba.”

“Would you like Jabba to pay the ticket or you?”

“ Yet … it was Jabba’s car. And it didn’t … well … work correctly. I have proof.” Rustle. Rustle. Rustle.

“Would you like Jabba to pay the ticket, or you?”

“… which is why I was speeding.”

Then came a man with fifty papers to prove something or other. I watched as the judge went through them all. “Do you have the form 50 for the Citation Gobbled?”

“Yes your honor. And I have theZorflex for the Caranga.”

“ I don’t need that one. But I’ll take the Foofle 21 with the Snorz XY.”

“I’ll give you that and raise you a XZ557391810.”

When I woke up, we were already on the very next person.

“I was driving. I am a good driver. There was a pizza box in the road. I swerved like a good driver but didn’t leave my lane.”

“Is that when you sped?”

“No, not at all.”

“Then I saw that a lane was closing. I made sure to leave my lane carefully to get into the continuing lane.”

“Is that when you sped?”

“No, not at all.”

“Then I saw a further lane change was necessary, but there were people behind me driving fast.”

“So you sped.”

“Of course not.”

“Can you get to the point?”

Blanks stare.

“And then  … and … babble babble babble, something about how the tires turned, babble babble. I didn’t want to bother the people in back of me … babble babble.”

At this point I was watching the officer who seemed very tough but I was wondering if the officer was actually tough and what her life story might be. I bet it was an interesting life story. Or not.

“… And I have perfect driving record.”

“Next …”

Another young man who had several violations said some things which probably made sense … And then a young woman came to the stand.

“Ah, now I see you were asked to go to do road crew work while you had several drivers speed past so you would learn what it felt like to fear for your life.”

“Yes, your honor.”

“Did you do this?”

“Yes your honor.”

“That’s interesting because the road crew chief is my cousin who never saw you. And I get the constant camera feed from his Go Slo.” (Ah! This explains the vortex!)

“Well actually I went to the sit down class because that is what the clerk downstairs ordered me to do.”

“Do you know you’ll be sent to jail for lying?”

“Yes, Your honor.”

“Did the clerk order you to the sit-down class?”

“Yes, as I said, your honor.”

“Officer, can you bring me a copy of the orders?”

Officer gets the orders and another paper.

“Hmm. I see here, in carbon copy, that you were ordered to go to this road crew. And I have it in your handwriting that you checked in the road crew. But no one saw you there.”

“That is because I thought I was supposed to go to the other road crew. Where I went. 17th and Sfew Street.”

“That’s a brewery. I thought you said you went to the sit down class.”

“Yes your honor.”

“ And what is the penalty for lying?”

“Umm .. in carcinogen?”

“Please stay here and await your arrest.”

“But I sat down for the beer …”

I realized after five hours, or perhaps one, that she wasn’t reducing ticket prices and so I left, went downstairs, and paid. Somehow, though it was slightly embarrassing, I braved the many eyes of crowd focused most likely on all my bright colors,  and I walked out. I made the choice not to waste time for no reason. It felt good.

May God bless your day.

 

In the Balance

There is confusion in life sometimes. There is a balance that we seek.  One of the places of balance that I see those in my sphere struggle with the most is the balance between giving and self-protection. Sometimes one is so focused on being giving and loving that one lets others walk all over one, which is not good for the moral health of the others. Sometimes, one is so determined to not give oneself away so carelessly that one is selfish and holds grudges and becomes cruel without perhaps knowing. The walls of protection go up too high.

Love then, what is it? Is it all the time giving, or is it self-care . . . there is a balance here. And it can be a difficult one to navigate. One of the Works of Mercy that The Church uses is “Bear wrongs patiently.”  What does that mean?

Spending time so far in the first 2/3 of the Triduum, There was, as expected, a focus on the self-giving of Christ. He washed the feet of the apostles, grubby feet full of dirt and feces as were the times — lowly job, only for servants, yet the apostles were served this way by their rabbi. Jesus let himself be betrayed. He healed the ear that was cut off when his friend tried to protect him. He let himself be scourged brutally; he let himself be mocked with violence for merely telling the truth. He carried a heavy wooden cross though he was already weary and pressed. He let himself be pierced and hung up exposed, weary and bleeding. He had also said previous to this, “blessed are the peacemakers,” and “blessed are the meek.”

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Yet also turned over the tables in the temple condemning the use of his Father’s house as a place for cheating others. He told the Pharisees that they needed to change their ways. He used calm logic when being tried, standing firm in patience and wisdom.

There are also Works of Mercy for helping those who sin turn away and move toward virtue, for counseling others, and for teaching others. These are not works of doormat-hood. Mercy also cares about ones moral character and relationship with God. Mercy doesn’t say, “Do whatever you want to me.”  This is not merciful to oneself nor the other.

But what about Christ? He suffered. He gave into the effects of others sin. And he did it for love. He did it for love.  There was a purpose to this. There was a greater good — the healing of the world if only each of us accept it — the healing of our hearts –the way to be together with the one who is Ultimate Love forever and ever. There was a purpose here.

He kept his identity, not losing it to be whom others thought he was. They wanted a revolutionary on the earth, not a Savior to restore the great divide — not a King of Heaven. He did not say, “Oh, if you think I’m a blasphemer than maybe I am. Whatever you think.” No. He had a purpose. He knew who he was. And he did this for love.

So often I find myself in need of the balance. Self-giving can be from the wrong place thus leading to bitter exhaustion and pushing others away in selfish cruelty. But what about giving from the place of real love, where there is a purpose, where we do not lose ourselves but grow stronger in an awareness of who we are as we give ourselves away in a way in which we do not disappear?  We may still be exhausted, but it is different. What about being fueled by Love Himself?

The persecution of others toward Jesus did not have the last word. Death did not have the last word. He was a victim but not a “victim.” He freed the souls from the underworld. He rose and manifested the victory over sin and death accessible by us for all eternity if we so choose. He ascended to make a place for us, but not before showing us how to access this eternal life and abundant Grace while even still here on earth.  His suffering had a purpose.

Real love gives. We work hard for our families. We take the time to explain to a friend what we really meant if they were offended in a misunderstanding. We spend time with people. We seek the healing we need ourselves to help us love better. We serve the poor. We encourage others. We go on pilgrimages. We spend time in prayer. We loves ourselves by allowing ourselves thinking time even if we would rather give into the noise of busyness and media. Real love gives, and it is hard work. We process through emotions, sometimes over and over and over, until we can come to a place of forgiveness, because we know it is important. We make amends to others, searching our consciences, not simply flippantly.  Love takes work, and it can be tiring.

Let us not be so concerned with being taken advantage of that we don’t learn to give in some resemblance of the way Jesus did, bearing wrongs patiently but being calm and teaching the truth. Let us love for a purpose, for a greater good, and because that person is worthy of compassion as all are. Let us pray for wisdom that we not encourage a lack of virtue on their part, but love in a way that honors their ultimate good.

God, please be the source of loving others, of giving though it is hard. Teach us wisdom to learn the balance. 

Today, for much of the world, is Holy Saturday. It is a good time to contemplate this balance as we wait between Christ’s death and Resurrection, remembering that this is the day he freed the captives. Let us also pray to be free from our own confusion.  This is a hard thing to learn, but beautiful to contemplate. And it in case it is Easter for you already, may you yourself rise with wisdom and hope on this day.

The “Sabat Matyr” says at one point “Make my soul to glow and melt with the love of Christ my Lord.”  Love is the center of it all.  May you rise with Him, ever connected, ever close.

May God bless your day.

 

 

 

 

Dissipating Prejudice

I have realized something lately. I have prejudice. The truth came on me hard. There is a subset of the population that I have very little if no tolerance for, a group of people I assume have no feelings.  This is something I didn’t realize until this week.

seagulls“Who is it?” you ask.  Well, if you know me well you know that it is the type of person who always wins the argument – who seems to not notice other’s feelings when discussing things but only the point – who tells people what to do even when they are not in charge, who sometimes won’t stop talking to give others room to talk.  My gut desire is to tear down anyone trying to be in power.  When the outgoing  bossy man comes in who likes things just so and will tell you about it, they are not human to me. It is a tough realization.

It is good to have boundaries around  people if we need them. However,  people are people. Such people do have feelings, and why they are bossy I do not know.  It could be a sense of the world needing them.  It could be that ideas and people are separated in the way their brain works. It could be so many things. And yes, it can also be pride and other sin.  I just do not know. Therefore, some balance is needed. It is important to respect them as human beings even when having many many boundaries.

Many of us know that we should respect other human beings, but is there a type of human that you simply don’t respect? Many people say they are not prejudiced, but they are against those who are prejudiced. Those readers who are Christians: We pray that God have Mercy on the sinner. But is there a certain kind of “sinner” that  you don’t really want God to have Mercy on?

One problem with this is that this lack of charity hurts us. Yes. We absolutely need to know how to have good boundaries and not just let anyone push us around. But the person inside is still a person, and the bitterness does damage. And when we spot these same characteristics in ourselves, it can lead to self hatred. What we despise in others, we often despise in ourselves.

Today, let us ask our Higher Power for charity to see others as human beings, balanced with protection for our hearts. This way, we will find much more peace.

May God bless your day.