In this most unusual election year, could we navigating these rough waters as a result of nature’s storm, trying to regain a balance of gender power–of which we almost dare not speak? (Shhh..I mean nurturing.)
Pretend: the wonder of a child…
Embracing moments of joy and living with the eager anticipation and assurance of more joyful moments to come…
Until I had experienced enough living to equal about 120 childhoods, I hadn’t been able to understand Jesus’ famous words:
“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like child is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3-4 NIV)
The word pretend originated from the Latin word meaning to stretch forth and claim. Personally, I would like to reclaim my childhood wonder. How about you?
I should probably attribute this next concept to someone, but I have now seen it in so many places and credited to so many philosophically-minded folks, that it has created my own confetti-like words in the wind:
For every enlightened soul who has shared what seems like plausible meaning-of-life wisdom, followers have convened to claim ownership and to construct their own air-tight rules. The result is always the same: destruction of the real grains of wisdom. (I am speaking of religions, political beliefs, cultures, traditions, work ethics…all of it.) In fact, just by writing this, I am restricting your understanding. And that is why Jesus’ parables were so brilliant: we can’t know exactly. We can only hope and trust in something that is similar to what Jesus described during his short life.
Here is my personal little childlike box of confetti that, tonight, is what my picture of the kingdom is like. I can assure you that if you asked me tomorrow, it will have even more confetti. (Apparently kingdom boxes work like that!) Furthermore, I am quite certain that we all gather our confetti differently.
The beautiful confetti of children:
(Job speaking to the Lord) Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. Job 42:3
When I try to make sense of something or prove to myself that I have made the best decision, I tend to go a little crazy. The kingdom of heaven is like my world-within-my world. It’s the one I cannot hold onto firmly, because if I try, it disappears. It’s a little like staring at a star: if you look directly at it, you can’t quite see it anymore. When I can just pretend…when I can just accept that what is happening in each moment is simply my next opportunity to find love and goodness, each moment becomes an opportunity to learn. Without the baggage of prejudice (prejudging), outdated information, and yesterday’s advice, we live in gratitude for each other and the resources we have.
Does this mean that learning is pointless? Of course not. But learning anything is never static. Learning creates opportunity and invites childlike awe. If we grab it and wield it like a sword, it just gets old and crotchety. Relationships? New, full of wonder, looking for the next opportunity to find more love. Work? New, full of wonder, looking for more ways to care for, serve, and love each other. Backstabbing competition? Back to old, crotchety, and stinky.
What does your kingdom-box of childlike-confetti look like? It is certainly a challenge to keep it in focus, but when we can find others who are humbling themselves to the point of discovering their own gossamer confetti-threads of childlike wonder, finding the laser-like focus doesn’t seem so impossible anymore.
As always, your views, experiences, and comments make us all richer. Please share!
Wait–don’t we need to make good decisions?
Sometimes my forays into cautionary tales about being judgmental are met with vehement cries of derision–especially when one’s work hinges upon the ability to make informed and wise decisions. As a teacher, I remember frequent reminders that teachers make upwards of 1,500 critical decisions each day affecting students, parents, schools, communities—well, you get the picture. Teachers are hardly alone in their circles of influence.
My new growth mindset of possibility:
I have come to the place where my most solid assurance is that there is no end: that the conversations go on between all the souls who love each other, living and dead. I have no certifiable proof of this–only that this understanding gives me peace and allows me to maintain open conversations with basically anyone. From a mindset of no end, nothing seems catastrophic anymore; we just continue learning how to love better. That also allows me to allow others’ their own interpretations of end vs. no end. And yet, when I see others in pain, knowing that there can be life here on the terra firma without emotional pain, I suppose that I cannot, in good conscience, stop myself from putting these thoughts out there. (Most solid assurance, after all, is not without doubt.)
Each person comes to their working core truth in their own way and at their own time. When you get to that place, I don’t think that you never want to leave that solid foundation. You just build from there. I would love to know what you think: have you reached a meaning-of-life that works for you? If so, how has it affected your interpretation of judgement?
Decisions, words-meanings, and relationships
So, the building: we humans have our gargantuan task of working out the fabric of meanings that fashion our relationships. Our life-raft relationships that we build despite the raging oceans of our many languages, cultures, contexts, values–all of it, might be secured or destroyed upon the interpretation of a single word: judgement. To me, judgement can mean allowing a relationship or dismissing it.
In my opinion, our interpretation and application of the difference between judgment and discernment is worth mindful consideration.
Value of souls vs. value of physical matters
Claim: Judgment addresses the value of a person. If we can accept that we are all differently-gifted for our own unique life’s purpose, every individual would have equal value. We each contribute to the whole in our own way. I see it as the value of one’s soul and worthiness to take up space, to be heard, and to be loved.
Claim: Discernment, according to conventional interpretation, is based upon what can be observed: objective matters. (Granted, there is also a Biblical application of the word discernment, which may or may not integrate well. This would probably also make for a good discussion!) I discovered an article published a few years ago (2011) in Psychology Today. It was written by Dr. Raj Raghunathan, who explains it much more eloquently than I. Here it is again:
What do you think? What determines the difference between judgment and discernment for you? How does that kind of distinction play out in your daily living?
Love, ❤ ❤ ❤
Red Cedar Trees: fragile, vulnerable
Red Cedars once flourished on the banks of the Cedar River, perfectly adapted to their environment. Sturdy, naturally water-repellent trunks fell prey to 19th-century homesteaders in desperate need of fuel and protection. Conservationists’ targeted efforts now cultivate and protect the remaining, the fragile, the few.
Fragile, vulnerable, deplorable, hungry, crafty, consumers
Apparently my bully-ish thought-stream decided that a raging waterfall would be more appropo tonight. So, here goes…
Earlier today, I discovered that bully was, originally, a 16th Century term of endearment for a friend or lover (spelled boele). You’ll have to hang with me here to follow my spaghetti-brain logic. Continue reading “Bullies: just longing for Boeles?”
We already know that the parent-child bond can be locked into place by age 1, but as little ones start to pull away and exercise independence, I have wondered whether there might be a way to begin to teach children at a very early age how to begin to take over the task of calming themselves. Continue reading “Meditations for Young Children”
Armor of assertiveness
Very few of us escape our young childhood years without at least a few effects of misguided parenting here and there. And even if we had the greatest parents who made sure we felt love and supplied everything we needed, there may have been another whole realm of skills–assertiveness–that was overlooked. If you find yourself wishing that your assertiveness skills were a little beefier, this is for you. Lack of assertiveness is a chief cause of the bully/bullied syndrome. (If we are the products of parents who were quite off track–somewhere on the spectrum between the abusers and helicopters–we will also benefit by doing some work over in the Starfish Mission area. We need to heal our damaged souls to avoid passing on the hurt.) Continue reading “Assertiveness: Parents + 2”
The source for breaking through my wall:
This post is going to be a departure from my usual blurb about emotional health. Since this is a journey-in-progress, you have gotten glimpses of the process of climbing out. Today is a turning point: I am moving into the topic of what to do once you have a sense of escaping the hole–to see what is above ground. My next series of posts might be of particular value for those interested in the world of bullying, power, and control: how bullies develop as well as how victims become vulnerable. We are going to be exploring what it means to be assertive, as well as how to avoid becoming aggressive. Continue reading “Assertiveness: Mirror + 1”
Despite the fact that I enjoy fast cars (probably has something to do with the horse of my growing-up years having been a barrel racer), I consider myself a fairly responsible driver. That said, a recurring thought likes to dance through my consciousness: what would it feel like if I miscalculated the speed of the oncoming car and…? Would my life keep going –only not being seen? Continue reading “Hey Science, I’d like you to meet Spirit…”
Matthew 13: 11-33
Pain. Somehow, it seems to take on a life of its own. What you thought was hurting there, is really hurting here. I am beginning to understand. Coming here–into this world filled with pain–has sometimes felt to me as though I’ve had amnesia. Like I should have known this before. Didn’t I? How did I forget? Relearning. All of the tedium. Ugh.
Physical pain is one thing. Emotional pain is quite another. A personal who can soothe emotional pain has a gift: the gift of true love. Love is not always easy to find. Love is borne on the backs of habits– born of pain, gathers droplets through compassion, spreads across calm waters where there is no judgement, and rises from the mist into the sunshine. Love does not hold vice on its calm surface. Vice sinks quickly and disappears into the depths. Only through pond inversion will vice get another chance to become love.
Occasionally, when meeting someone for the first time, I feel as though I’ve known them my entire life. I felt like that when I met my husband. It still feels like that, most days. Do you know this feeling? I have been having more of those moments recently. It’s not such a coincidence, really. Retirement provides opportunity.
Several days ago I wrote a post about feeling lucky to have been unlucky. I have also been doing an online book study with friends. We have been reading the book Self-Esteem by McKay and Fanning. Throughout the book so far (it takes some time to work through that thing!), there had been no reference to geography. But then–it was there–the name of a town. MY town. The town where we have spent the greatest share of our lives. Frantically, I began searching. Was there a connection? Yes, but not what I expected.
Dr. Matthew McKay, I discovered, has written a book that he never expected to write. He is a man of science and committed to adhering to sound research practices. McKay experienced the kind of pain a parent fears the most: his son, aged 23–full of promise and excited about his future, was murdered. McKay began a highly unusual quest to try to connect with his son on the other side. He found a way. What he learned–what I read last night in his book Seeking Jordan–consumed my dreams. This morning the mist cleared, and my life seems sane again. Mostly.
You would need to read the book–and even then you would need to be in a certain place in your life’s journey to allow it in. We are just as we suspected. We are in this together. We are all connected. Pain provides us opportunity to link arms (as one reader recently said to me–so succinctly) and to learn collectively. Through our pain, we learn love–better.
I am here with you to breathe through our pain, to connect, and to learn love better.
*I am not a licensed therapist and will never claim to be such. I have retired after working 20 years as full-time, elementary-classroom teacher. I’ve taught it all: reading, math, science, and the social studies. (That does NOT mean that I have learned it all!) What I have to offer (and what I have yet to fully understand. 😉 ) is a lifetime of experiences and a spaghetti-brain full of randomly-connected information. 🙂 Most importantly, I care.