June 12, 2016
I have a confession. Something that brings me deep shame. I don’t know what goes on in the world “out there.” I keep my head down and it isn’t because I don’t care. I feel the burning fire to touch every soul, stretching and strengthening them into wholeness and freedom and praying like hell it will spark a forest fire spreading to every person I touch and on and on. But I am ignorant. I am afraid to peek from behind my fingers. I’m a fraud. How can I think I can change the world in which I don’t know the pulse? How can I share the light if I don’t know the darkness? I am privileged. It is straight privilege and ego which allows me to turn my face away. I long for union. For freedom in and through all. And I cling to hope that one day Hope will reign down. But it is privilege which allows me even the opportunity to claim my ignorance! Forgive me. I see and love you but I also want to see your struggles. I won’t turn away.
Eighteen months ago I wrote that in my journal. I wrote it coming off the heels of the Orlando nightclub shooting, when the European migrant crisis was in full swing, and police brutality and fear of “other” was simmering right under the surface with a low boiling over point, if not full blown exposed. When I wrote that I remember feeling our world seemed hopeless and overwhelming and I’d rather ignore it than feel all the things. In eighteen months, has anything changed? Its a new day and the stories have changed slightly, but we continue to want to define who is “We” and who are “They?” What identity do I possess? and if you are different do I have reason to fear you? This season we hear of people standing up for rights because they are different AND those who don’t identity in the same way arming their defenses and feeling life as they know it has been threatened.
If you read the Mission of Studio Rise there is a phrase that says, “…in order in impact the world around us.” In eighteen months, I’ve kept my commitment to see. But what can little old me actually do to impact the world? Should I become an activist and march on the corner? Do I proclaim my identity as woman, conservative, Christian, straight, white, wife, mother, etc, etc, etc, and stand for others rights who are just like me on Facebook? In eighteen months, I’ve tried to foster a different heart-posture. I’m becoming aware that if I can identify myself as anything, I am a humanist. Human. Regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, political orientation, how many toes I have, color of my hair, etc, etc, etc, none of these things deems me worthy of deserving any preferential treatment, nor does it earn me the right to treat anyone else as less than human. In eighteen months, I stand firm in the belief that our identity and meaning is grounded in our oneness. And because I want to try and embody that oneness, I choose rebellious kindness. Kindness that goes against social rules. Kindness to those I love. Kindness to those who are interactions are just a glance. Kindness to the ones who have betrayed me. Kindness to the broken. Kindness to the confident. I don’t have to keep track. I don’t have to make sure any human checks all the right boxes before they earn my kindness. It takes work and checks and balances and intention and still sometimes I find myself wanting to judge and label, but I pray like hell that maybe a little human kindness will spread beyond my reaches to impact the world around me.
This week, I challenge you to this practice of maitri–a meditation for loving kindness. Try it once. Try it every day. Make it your intention and feel the freedom and hope which rises up in place of fear and hopelessness. See us all as one.
Begin by finding the place of loving kindness inside your heart.
Drawing upon this source of love, bring to mind someone you deeply care about, and send loving kindness toward them.
Now direct this love toward a casual friend or colleague, someone just beyond your inner circle.
Continue drawing from your inner source of loving kindness and let it flow toward someone about whom you feel neutral or indifferent, a stranger.
Remember someone who has hurt you or someone you struggle to like. Bless them. Send them your love.
Gather all these people and yourself into the stream of love and hold them here for a few moments.
Finally, let the flow of loving kindness widen to encompass all beings in the universe.
To quote one of my favorite authors, Glennon Doyle, “Be brave because you are a child of God. And be kind because everyone else is too.”