Kindness

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.”

7 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing a thought provoking post. The emotion I felt most from this post was uncertainty. This is, perhaps, only my interpretation but it felt so strong and I understood it so well. Who doesn’t feel uncertain right now?

    I would love to be able to ask you questions. Questions for clarity and questions for reflection. You say: “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?” Whose rights are you standing for? Other “woman, conservative, Christian, straight, white, wife, mother” or simply, others. And what does standing for others’ rights look like? What does it feel like? What does it look like to those others? And what does it look like to the “others”? How does identifying as a humanist support your values? What will you have to give up in order to be a humanist? What do you gain? What barriers stand in the way of your humanism? Who can help you be a humanist?

    Forgive me for the questions – I do not ask that you answer them and I do not necessarily put them here for dialogue’s sake. I put them here to give words to my emotions and reflections.

    To quote Glennon again: ““It’s ok to feel too much and know too little.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All great questions! And discussion and dialogue around these issues is so healthy because that is what allows us to find common ground or to see ourself in another. I also encourage you to lean in to what those answers might look like to you. Explore and feel all the feelings and hang out in the discomfort of not knowing. Wrestle and grapple and sweat it while sorting it. My opinion is that standing up for anyone’s rights is great, as long as it isn’t taking away rights of another. As long as I’m not putting myself in the seat of god, being an advocate, a warrior for truth is worth fighting for. But if my truth Butts up against the value of another human, I’d better gut check if it’s actually truth. Even my saying that makes me squirm a little because this is my opinion and I want every person reading this to do that gut check to discover the truth for themselves, not think that I have anything at all figured out.

      Such good questions that will be chewed upon for a long time in my heart and soul. And discussion over coffee sometime? Yes please!!

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  2. When I read this my initial feeling is “overwhelmed.” The world, the negativity, the arguing, the loudness of it tends to overwhelm me. I want to go away and be by myself. Always.Someone made a comment to me today that they went somewhere and forgot their phone and they felt panicked and disconnected and afraid and alone. My response was wistful. I love when I forget my phone and I’m all by myself. That’s my place. But I also love the world. And to love it is to take it as it is, as in any relationship. So you take the bad with the good. You work on bringing a better balance, adding m,ore good as best you can. Again, overwhelmed. How can I? Can I be effective? Do I have to be just as loud and negative to be worthy of the world? The thought makes me feet stick to the ground. I can’t do anything. I’m frozen. I don’t know how to react in that way- to join in the fray to fight loud and in your face. And it makes me think if I can’t fight/ fight for in that way, perhaps I’m useless, a part of the problem, a sheep.

    But when I break down an issue, a worldly, big issue to a tangible, touchable moment, I can move. Maybe my steps are small. Maybe they don’t matter but it’s at least movement, forward momentum. I say my piece to those who talk to me face to face. I give my opinions knowing I might be opposed but also knowing that I say them with Love and Integrity of Spirit. It comes from a place of wanting to add to our world, not take away from it. I try to keep that truth in front of me so the World can’t tell me I’m small, even if I am. And then I move again.

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  3. Aubrey – I’ve been following along since you started writing and am loving the blog. Your post on Wait hit me so hard. I hurt my back and my “normal” practice is on Wait. I wrote a comment but it was deleted when I was rerouted because I had a forgotten wordpress account – my old yoga blog from a teacher training. I didn’t get to complete the training because of a hamstring injury. How about that?

    As for this post. Wow. My initial reaction? So. much. fear. I am afraid. Not of the world and events, but of the conversation. I am afraid of engaging. I am afraid of my desire to live a full life butting up against someone else’s values. I am afraid of my promises to stay small and unnoticed, to not make anyone uncomfortable, to just keep to myself. I am afraid to comment. But I love the thinking!

    Keep writing!

    Tara

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    1. Tara. YOU are an amazing being. The end. Live fully and freely, friend. (I’m looking forward for your wait to be over and you can join us in body again)

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  4. Pingback: Reality – Rise

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