My spiritual director has been working with me on the importance of Being. This is because I am an extrovert and greatly addicted to Doing. Doing, I understand. Being was a mystery.
It is, of course, still a mystery! But now I have an image of what it is. In the science I grew up in — and electron was a busy creature — endlessly spinning around the center. But, as near as I understand it — electrons now inhabit a spherical shell of “energy”. They are not so much “doing” as “being”.
My understanding is probably totally wrong. But, it has been incredibly useful for me. When I do my Centering Prayer and sit quietly — doing nothing other than welcoming You in — I can “see” myself refreshing my spherical shell of Being.
Sometimes I even see my “colors” changing — all in my imagination, of course. But, still, a JOY!
Sometimes, I hear something so clearly analyzed and thought out that it takes my breath away! That’s how I responded to Jan Rader’s TED talk on “In the opioid crisis, here’s what it take to save a life.” Basically, she observed that just resuscitating someone is not enough. Even after being resuscitated for the 3rd or 4th time the person still doesn’t know they have a problem! Addicts just don’t know they have a problem.
In addition, the drug that saves them makes them feel horrible. It isn’t a great time to talk sense to them. So, they created a Quick Response Team (QRT) composed of a paramedic, police officer, someone in the recovery community and someone in the faith community. They go and visit those who have overdosed within 72 hours. And right now around 30% of the folks accept some kind of help.
They also created a free-standing specialty clinic – PROACT – for assessment by an addiction specialist. First responders can take or refer patients there who do not want to go to a hospital. This helps the overloaded hospitals, too.
But what moved me the most is that they have started a first responders self-care program. If you are seeing 5 young people die every month . . . many of them classmates and friends . . . you need help! So, now they have yoga in the firehouses and on-duty massages. And they have off-duty programs like pottery and cooking classes.
I’ve been listening to this book . . . slowly ( I’m now on Chapter Three) . . . as the ideas don’t fit easily or quickly into my head. . Thinking of You as a VERB instead of a NOUN is a big change. It seems that Aristotle considered Nouns as on the top of the hierarchy. Nouns had substance. And, I guess, tended to have an objective reality. That led us to seeing you as A Big Bearded White Man. Looking back I can see that gave rise to a lot of problems that are still with us. Mind you, I would hope other cultures don’t picture You as white . . . but, still definitely a human male.
This mental shift to relating to You as a VERB is HUGE. You are not so much LOVE (a noun) as LOVING (a verb). I’m smiling, God. As I was telling my spiritual director, I am realizing how little I know. This hit me a few weeks ago when I thought after a time of Centering “That was poor!” Immediately, it was made clear to me that I am not able to judge or evaluate a time of Centering. And, in truth, how could I as I have no idea of what exactly is happening while I center. I do try though. Astot first I used male words like repair, rewire, reconstruct. But, now I’m thinking it’s more like nourishing and nurturing.
But, these are only words. And words are appallingly inadequate. Except when they are used to tell stories! I love the stories that Jesus told. Stories can be revisited and see from so many different angles. And stories stay with me . . . in ways that abstractions don’t. Ah! Perhaps this is why You came in person . . . enfleshing Yourself . . . becoming a Story of Loving and Forgiving.
I was idly flipping through this book when I was stopped by his use of EMPATHY. It seemed that was a key to one of the best Venture Capitalists in Silicon Valley. I had thought of “empathy” as a virtue . . . a stand-alone sort of character quality. I’d surely never thought of it as being essential to successful Venture Capitalists! Or to generals, spies, etc.!
Our secular culture tends to ignore or deny the practical benefits of being able to put ourselves in other people’s shoes, minds and hearts. Yikes! I was doing it too.
Apparently, empathy allows us to understand a much wider array of people and thus learn more. And updating our information . . . learning and growing and adapting . . . is essential. As Laurence Gonzales said. “Some people update their [mental] models better than others. They are called survivors.”
Hmm. One last point — from a book FULL of them — was about the different “success rates” of Foxes vs Hedgehogs. Hedgehogs know ONE area very well. Foxes know a lot of areas. And when asked to make predictions on what would happen in five years — the foxes were way out in front and the hedgehogs way behind. The foxes were widely interested in the world around them. They updated their understandings frequently. And they were skeptical of one big answer.
I can understand curiosity as useful. But empathy — the ability to feel with other quite different people — that was a huge surprise. But, then isn’t empathy intertwined with love? And so as You are Love . . .it shouldn’t surprise me that love would be a useful virtue . . . not just “spiritual”.
I’m tired. After a great night’s sleep on Thanksgiving I was up and down most of last night. And I am feeling a bit bleak. So this photo fits my mood perfectly. The view is of the beautiful blue ocean . . . but it is seen through the shadows of a Lauhala tree. Sigh. This tree was planted as a memorial for a friend’s son. Somehow, God, my normal UP mood is down.
It feels like the wonderful rest I’ve had is giving my Body and Heart a chance to “Clean Up” and “Clean Out”. Bringing up worries and fears for the future — up to the surface so they can be brought to You. This feels like a good thing. It’s kind of like cleaning out cabinets and closets.
Acknowledging this is hard for me. I’m an enneagram Seven. I’d rather turn away and make a joke. But that is not showing backbone! I need backbone. And that means consistently working on developing discipline . . . so now I will go do my stretches and lift my 5 pound weights. And keep track on my iWatch.
I’m back. I am puffing a little but I’m already feeling less bleak . . .
I was busy as usual on Wednesday . . . but then Thursday I slept in and then napped later on. We were joining a dear friend’s family at 6:00 for dinner. Around 3:00 I made the fresh cranberry relish and at 5:20 gathered up the pumpkin pie and wine and off we went. A lovely and delicious evening!
This morning I slept until 7:30 a.m. Got up and had a bite to eat with my wonderful husband Kit and then I went back to bed until 12:20. Sleeping longer at one time than for months and months! I’m thankful!
I’m also thankful that I now know rest does not mean that I stop moving! The body is designed to MOVE. And thankfully a friend was willing to go swimming with me. Swimming with a friend means twice as much time in the salt water — which is good. And a little less time swimming hard which isn’t good . . . but worth it to be in the water longer.
Now I’m home and hoping to get to bed soon and sleep-in again. Appreciating what feels like it might be a sabbath type rest. Hmm. One day in seven of full rest. What a loving Commandment, God! Meant for our good. But oh my! So hard for me to keep!
I have so very much to be thankful for, God! My amazing husband . . . our darling daughters . . . our growing grandsons. Our family and our dear friends. The people we interact with . . . humans are mostly good folks.
I had a thought come to me yesterday — while I was swimming with the giant school of little fish — that has stretched my heart. I was looking at the fish. And I noticed that while pale they did have colors . . . a thin yellow line down the side and other subtle shadings. I, of course, couldn’t begin to tell one fish from another. But then I thought — God knows them all by name!
I laughed! I really don’t know if You have “named” them, God. But, I am quite convinced that You “know” each of them and that they matter to You. I pondered that thought. You know the stars by name . . . why not fish? Really, this whole idea is stretching my heart and mind.
As Madeleine L’Engle said in a Wind in the Door — size doesn’t matter. Nothing is too big or too small for You.
Somehow, pondering Your love for each little fish helped me come a little closer to the height and depth of Your LOVE . . . You ARE Love! And I am THANKFUL.