I had finished mowing my grass and was now weed eating around bushes and trees. Behind our house is a field that a local farmer harvests for hay several times a summer. The front yard was done and I moved into the backyard with the weed eater. Making my way along the fence line I was hot, sweating and looking forward to sitting down in the shade. The farmer that used the field was also out turning the grass with his tractor which would eventually become hay bales. He was stirring up a lot of dust. I don’t know if he didn’t see me or didn’t care but he and I ended up in the same place on either side of the fence. The dust kicked up went everywhere. I couldn’t see because it was in my eyes, and clung to my sweat and made me even more of a filthy mess. I stopped until the dust settled and I could use my shirt to wipe my eyes and glasses filled with grass and dirt. Afterward, I completed the chore and thankful not to be dusted again.
Going inside I saw the dust continue to rise and blow in the wind as the farmer worked the field. I thought about certain people come into our lives like a dust cloud blowing things everywhere, marking our lives with their presence and then leaving all they’ve touched a mess. When they’re gone we find ourselves disoriented, shaking off the negativity and trying to continue living the best we can. Some people don’t know they do this, others don’t care. Either way, the key to recovering is to be still and wait. Sooner or later, after they blow away and we can regain our focus, our purpose, and try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
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Out of Outrage –
This week I read two articles about people being outraged. One was about the singer, Carrie Underwood, mentioning in a magazine that she was thirty-five years old and that she might be too old for her and her husband to have a lot of children. Fertility rights activists (who knew there was such a thing?) voiced their outrage on Twitter and in other online forums wondering how she could dare make such a statement. The other was about Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson going with his wife and daughter to an aquarium. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and other animal/marine life defenders accused the “Rock” of supporting the harming and captivity of these underwater creatures. Let’s not forget the daily outrage of Trump supporters and never Trump supporters over almost everything the president does or doesn’t do.
Honestly, I need a break. I’m can’t handle all the outrage, negativity, vitriol being spewed out on, it seems, everyone and everything. A woman muses about the difficulty of having a lot of children at her age and a dad spending the day with his family at an aquarium is controversial? It’s as if we are looking for more reasons to be upset and ticked off at things. There are enough bad, evil, wrong, people and events in this world right now that should elicit legitimate outrage. We don’t have to search for more.
If we are outraged at everything then we are outraged at nothing. It is nothing but angry voices screaming at each other and no one hears, nor cares to, what the other is saying. Instead of getting upset and angry about everything, choose what really matters to you and do something about it. If you make a list and a thirty-five-year-old country singer and a movie star are on the top of your list? Maybe you should think harder.
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“The world today tends to be cynical about most things. We have a hard time believing in an enchanted world, a sacred or benevolent universe. Why would we if we see only at the surface level? Everywhere we turn, every time we watch the news, we see suffering. We have become skeptical about God’s goodness, humanity’s possibilities, and our planet’s future. We can’t help seeing what is not and are often unable to recognize or appreciate what is. I see this temptation in myself almost every day. I have to pray and wait for a second gaze, a deeper seeing. This is my daily bread.” (https://cac.org/category/daily-meditations/) #RichardRohr
The quote above, from Richard Rohr, was part of my devotional reading this morning. I quickly took the phrase; “Second Gaze” to heart. I hadn’t heard it before but it is a primary wisdom discipline. It is the understanding that if we only see with our physical sight we will miss the goodness, the light, the continuing blossoming of creation all around us. We will also miss the ways in which we can be a part of creation by loving, acts of kindness, a gentleness of spirit and humility to each person and everything we include in the circle of our lives.
Let us look around us today without the cynicism and negativity which often plagues our sight. May we behold and become a part of the ongoing miracle that is life in all its universal glory.
Negativity is like a virus. Spreading, invading, permeating, controlling, manipulating and killing peace, contentment and stillness.
There are moments in our lives where we must choose to walk the path of negativity, strife, anger and hate or walk away, even if it’s from someone we care for and love. These aren’t easy choices and it isn’t necessarily a permanent departure but separation is a must.
Each of us have those in our life who are bitter, spiteful, malevolent people. They criticize, demean, hurl insults and can fill a room with enough emotional turmoil we either choose to enter into combat or retreat to remain, regain, stillness and centeredness. It may bother us to make this choice, we may desire another way, but sometimes it’s our only option.
As much as we may want to help these rancorous ones make the connection between their malignant attitudes and a life littered with strained and broken relationships it doesn’t work. We know because we’ve tried. We still love them but sometimes we just can’t be near them.
Militant, hostile, antagonistic personalities take hostages, tries to make you a prisoner of the moment. You want to return fire with insults of your own, get even, pay back their vindictiveness with derision but, ultimately, no one wins these pitched battles because criticism, pessimism, nihilism, can’t be quenched or defeated. You can only keep it from detonating your spirit by removing the fuse, putting distance between yourself and the other.
I’ve had encounters with negative, spiteful people where my jaw hurts from clenching it shut. Being silent in the face of insult and ridicule can have a tremendous impact. It may take hours, days, to find balance and peace after a run in with someone hell-bent on bringing chaos into the lives of others.
Run ins with argumentative, belligerent folks will drain you, wear on you, and it’s easy to get sucked in to an uncivil, acrimonious, atmosphere that will scorch your spirit and burn out your emotions.
Wisdom helps guide us in discovering if we can defuse or extinguish the toxicity through acts of love, words of calmness or simply knowing when to remove ourselves from the poisonous environment.blessings, bdl