I listened to a conversation this week where the person told another, to their face, that they hated them. “I hated you when you left,” they said. “It took a long time to not hate you anymore.” It was an honest and startling admission. Most times people are adept at not showing the person they hate their true feelings.
It left me with a question; “Have I ever, in my life, hated someone?” I define hate; as the inability to see the good in someone. As I reflected on the question a person came to mind. If I’ve ever hated someone, according to my definition, this man fit the criteria. I had the hardest time seeing the good, the light, the benefit of his existence, the unique expression of God in him. It was, at times, impossible to not be suspicious of his motives, think of the worst outcome of his decisions, belittle his beliefs and talents. Then, one day, ranting in my head about something he had done the question came from out of the blue; “Can you see any good in this man?” My mind stopped dead in its tracks. The answer was “no, I couldn’t.” It was then I realized the problem wasn’t him it was me.
I’d love to post about how this moment fixed everything but it didn’t. However, it did give me a new way of looking at this person and my role in the frustration, anxiety, and chaos within me. It took me a long time to forgive the hurt and betrayal he had caused but I began focusing on what was going on inside of me instead of what someone was doing on the outside. This made all the difference.
“You will never see God until you can see Him in every next face you see.” #SaintMotherTeresa
“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.
I was talking with someone the other day and we were trying to come to grips with a few issues which needed to be addressed so this person could move forward in life. We wanted to learn from his past but not be chained to it. One of the questions I asked was; “Who, if anyone, can criticize you?” The question hung in the air. I continued; “If we aren’t capable of receiving information about areas of our lives in which we need to improve we will never grow beyond our perception of ourselves.”
Being critical of ourselves, allowing others to shed light on dark, perhaps unexplored places, of who we are isn’t easy. I’m not sure anyone enjoys receiving an insight from someone else that isn’t flattering or realizing for ourselves we have a long way to go and grow, in multiple areas of life.
Wisdom teaches us that perfection isn’t ours for the taking but progression is a possibility. To progress, however, we must be vulnerable to the perception of weakness, habit, hurt or hang-up in ourselves and possess the willingness to accept it and begin to change.
Last night we had our Spring 2016 certificate ceremony for our incarcerated fathers’ class; Inside Out Dad. For the last session I give them their certificates and we talk about what we’ve learned over the last 3 months. One of the key points I focus on is self-awareness. It is the realization that most, if not all, our problems and challenges start with us. I tell the men; “Self-awareness is like looking in a mirror and truly seeing ourselves. We are able to recognize the good, bad, positive, negative, things we do well and things which need improvement.” I remind them to move beyond blaming others for our present conditions, accept responsibility for what we’ve done and should have done, and take an honest look at who we are and what we’ve become. “Only when we truly know ourselves can we be and do better.”
It’s a wisdom lesson for us all, a discipline which takes a lifetime to learn and practice, and one we can’t start soon enough.
It was cold in the house this morning as I pulled off the covers and began turning on the heaters. “Whoo!” I thought to myself. After a few moments I took the dogs outside for their routine and several minutes later, when I came back inside, suddenly the house felt much warmer. I knew it wasn’t because it had suddenly become warm but because out was much colder than in.
Perspective. Change your perspective and you change a lot. Sometimes the difference makes all the difference.
We are quick to label, judge, decide, hand in a verdict, before we look at situations, people, life from a different point of view. Wisdom teaches us that often it’s not the other that needs changing its our way of seeing, knowing, being.
The migraine that ate Tokyo came crashing into my life on Monday. It started in the morning and by the afternoon it had brought me to my knees. It was my fault. I had over extended myself this past weekend and the anxiety, fatigue and over stuffed schedule made me vulnerable to its attack. After taking plenty of meds and recovering Tuesday I ventured out today. Migraines affect different people in various ways and one of mine is tired and extremely sensitive eyes. During a migraine my eyes feel like they have ice picks stabbing them from the inside and even after it subsides subtle light can be blinding. For the record; the sun is blazing brilliantly today and as a result I’m struggling to adjust.
A year ago today my friend Mary passed away. I miss her greatly. She was one of those people whom the world is worse off because she’s no longer in it. June 17th of 2014 I wrote about her passing and another post the day before. I still remember watching the sun rise the morning I received word of her death. It was beautiful. I wondered and still do; “What is she seeing? Does the sun in all it’s glory pale in comparison to the light that now surrounds and penetrates her?”
I don’t know much about heaven and eternity. I’m wary of anyone who says they do. I believe in life after death and being united with loved ones who have crossed over to the other side. As I’ve wrestled with the light today I’ve also reflected upon whether or not my friend Mary has adjusted to her new eyes, a new light, a new way of seeing.