I am not at all concerned with appearing to be consistent. In my pursuit after Truth I have discarded many ideas and learnt many new things. -Gandhi
I used to have a certain news channel playing on my TV all the time. Literally all. day. long.
And I felt a lot of anger.
But then, about 2 years ago, I decided to stop cold turkey. I decided to stop watching the news all together.
The idea was partially planted when, at the church we were attending at the time, I began feeling as if nothing felt right anymore. My conscience was seriously conflicting with my faith. And I felt like there was this sense of fear being spread, not so much by the pastors, but by influential groups in the congregation. Once, when I questioned the path the church was taking I was told: We are not libertarian congregationalists. And that was followed by: Maybe you need some theology classes. I didn’t exactly know what a libertarian congregationalist was but it sounded like maybe I should consider being one. And then I started seriously thinking that I was at the wrong church.
To be fair it wasn’t just the news and church I cut out. I also unsubscribed from a whole lot of things (and I mean we pretty much uprooted our entire life.) There was obviously some withdrawal at first. I had been addicted to noise and drama.
But then I had a chance to breathe.
“The man who lives from God’s breath can recognize with joy that the same breath sinks into the lungs of his fellowman, and that they are both drawing from the same source. At this mutual realization, the fear of another disappears, a smile comes to the lips, the weapons falls, and one hand reaches out for the other.”-Henri Nouwen, With Open Hands
And then I spent more time outside. I read this over at Brain Pickings today, good timing:
“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life. […]
When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. . . . Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.” -Herman Hesse
And I naturally became less judgmental. I forgot all the labels I’d been deluged with.
“With this new confidence we recapture our own life afresh from within. Along with the new knowledge of our “inner space” where feeling of love and hate, tenderness and pain, forgiveness and greed are separated, strengthen or reformed, there emerges the mastery of the gentle hand.” –H.N.
I started to feel like everything I’d ever known had been tossed up into the air.
“Detachment is often understood as letting loose of what is attractive. But it can also mean being attached to what is repulsive. You can become attached to your own hate. As long as you look for retaliation, you are riveted to your own past. Sometimes it appears as though you would lose yourself along with your revenge and hate – so you stand there with balled up fists, closed to the other what wants to heal.” –H.N.
Honestly, a few days ago I really wasn’t sure if I really wanted to write about all of this because I have a really low endurance these days for being talked at. Or being told that I need theology classes. If I need theology classes to be a Christian, I’m screwed.
Them: But you are wrong.
Me: What if I am?
Really it all boils down to (**Jesus alert**):
I believe in God. I question everything. I pray often.
The spirit leads me, but only when I am quiet enough to listen.
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Galatians 5:18
I’ll always have questions. Whatever the questions might be I hope I follow the inclusive, compassionate path. I have this old 1952 copy of the Power of Positive Thinking and I love this line:
Christianity teaches that one basic trait will go far toward getting people to like you. That trait is a sincere and forthright interest in and love for people.
It’s nice when people like you. And not in the “I like you, but….” kind of way. I guess the question is: why go to great lengths to have people not like you? The only reason I can think of for that kind of behavior is to be exclusive.
Muddy water, let stand, becomes clear. -Lao Tzu
I’ve never met anyone that I couldn’t sit down with for a while. I’ve never met anyone that I couldn’t learn something from. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t leave me with a new story to tell. I’ve never met anyone that I couldn’t find something in common with in some way. I’ve never met anyone that didn’t have a past.
I just really like people.
So hooray that I was born on earth where there are humans.
I’m not asking you to stop watching the news, maybe it’s just a matter of being still more often. Cutting out some of the noise now and then. And creating a quiet mind, a peaceful place to make sense of things.
Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves. -Thomas Carlyle
And maybe it’s a matter of meeting new people. Proactively. All the time. People different from you. Where do they live? What’s easy? What’s hard? And if you happen to bristle at someone: try to figure out what that says about you, not them.
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness. -Mark Twain
(traveling doesn’t have to be far away)
And maybe it’s a matter of reading new things. All the time. (I think it’s kind of a red flag when someone says to me “you shouldn’t be reading that” and my immediate reaction is usually: I’m reading it twice.)
And speaking up when we need too. I’ve been teaching Boo this one-line (thank you Patti Digh) that can be used in almost any situation where you don’t agree with someone:
I don’t see the truth in that.
This was a birthday card my friend Jodi gave me exactly one month ago. Re-sharing it because I think it’s awesome:
P.S. Just a quick disclaimer: I do still browse the daily headlines because it is still important to know what’s going on in the world. Sadly sometimes I feel like I really have to dig. There’s a lot of awful stuff out in the world to be angry at.
Sharing this because it’s just good: