samedi, décembre 09, 2006

Even don't love me anymore

I've had occasion recently to grapple with what it means to forgive a friend for behavior that, at least in my own rather warped perception, has been deeply hurtful to me over a period of years. "Tout comprendre, c'est tout pardonner"-or so goes the French aphorism. The quotation is attributed to Madame de Stael-who perhaps would be shocked to find her words twisted into a French caricature. What she apparently said is "Tout comprendre rend tres indulgent"... understanding everything makes one more indulgent. I have found that my characterological, quite human ability to draw reasonable conclusions about someone else's behavior-how it fits their character, their limitations, their virtues-only gets me so far. For years I have tried to rationalize my friend's actions as a prompted by a general aversion to conflict, desire for consensus, and hope to be able to please all sides. Yet when a recent encounter left me feeling bruised and battered once again, I found that my great wisdom and soi-disant objectivity was nothing more than a band-aid. Underneath, the wound still festered. I wanted nothing more than to be done with the relationship-as though the reckoning between us had been too long deferred and was now out of the realm of the possible. The "Don Henley" school of forgiveness, articulated in his song "The Heart of the Matter", still often works well for me. "There are people in your life who have come and gone-they've let you down, you know, they've hurt your pride...You better put it all behind you babe, 'cause life goes on...if you carry all that anger, it will eat you up inside..." I do find that carrying around resentment and bitterness is a huge waste of time. On purely practical grounds, the act of forgiveness, of setting aside, is a useful strategy. Yet even that doesn't always do the trick. Sometimes the pain of the broken intimacy hits too close to the center of my being. But as I wrestle with my own pain, I remember the words of Jesus and his command to forgive brothers and sisters seventy plus seven, or seven times 70. C'mon, Lord, you can't mean that I have to keep forgiving the same brother or sister? How about you look at my overall record-kind of a spiritual RBI? And if I'm supposed to forgive this dude (again), then does it mean I have to be his or her pal? Or can healing really occur without relationship to the other? As you can probably tell, in spite of all the reading I've done and Jesus' command in the Gospels, I'm now where near figuring this trying problem out. Most definitely a work in progress..wholly in need of grace.

jeudi, décembre 07, 2006

Today's post

I have no idea what happened to this morning's post, "Living Boldly." Hopefully it will reappear at some point-or I'll figure out how to transfer it to another post. There are some people who can wreak technological havoc just by walking into a room. (Ironically, the purpose of today's post was to pay tribute to a technologist and his heroically practical priorities.) I shall now disappear for the moment, lest your cell phones lose their power, computers crash, and satellite radio starts to fade. In the boldly!

Living Boldly

"Four years ago, Kim, Zemlicka and their group of friends discovered golf, and Kim fell in love. Not only did he enjoy the game, he also basked in the camaraderie, Zemlicka said. But when daughter Penelope was born, Kim gave up the sport and never looked back, Zemlicka said.
"He wouldn't even sneak away for a few hours once in a while to play nine holes," Zemlicka said. "The truth is that it wasn't that big of a sacrifice--hanging out with a bunch of guys. James had more important things to tend to. He taught me to be a dedicated husband. He's always putting his wife and kids first." Excerpt from James Kim Obituary on Of all the lovely things people said in this obituary about the editor who died while attempting to save his family, this was the one that struck a deep echo with me. That is because I have many friends, mostly guys, who accord golf a place in their pantheon very close to worship, friends and family.I have met a number of women who accept, with a little or a lot of resignation, that on weekends they become "golf widows." The 35-year-old Kim, who was found yesterday in the Oregon wilderness, not far from where his wife and two daughter were rescued a few days ago, was apparently a remarkable man in many ways. As well as being praised for his love of family, he was also eulogized as an entrepreneur, technology maven and friend. But I suspect that this man of so many gifts will be remembered more for his ability to get his priorities straight when under pressure, to embrace his family first, than for his work as an editor or as owner of funky clothing stores. In the middle of this tragedy, we might find a corrective for the idols we put above love-I know what mine are as well as you do yours. James Kim probably wasn't thinking of how he would be remembered when he left the shelter of the family car to see if he could get aid for his wife and two daughters. But he left a legacy, nonetheless. Then there is the man Christians call Redeemer. Jesus only lived to be thirty-three-but, whether you believe him prophet, Messiah, or simply a man, he made every moment count. What do you want them to say about you when your time comes? It never hurts to be thinking about it now-something you can do even out on the greens. " I Want to leave a legacy, how will they remember me? Did I chose to love, did I point to You above? Want to leave a mark on things, want to leave an offering-Child of mercy and Grace, who blessed your name unapalogetically-Leave that kind of legacy." Nichole Nordeman "Legacy."

mardi, décembre 05, 2006

No secrets?

This morning a scrap of music from childhood floated through my memory. The lyrics are vintage Carly Simon-the feeling very contemporary. "We have no secrets-we tell each other everything about the lovers in our past and why they didn't last...we know each other's fantasies. And while you often say that it's me whom you adore-sometimes I wish, I really wish...that I didn't know-some of these secrets of yours. " I realize that what I am about to say is going to seem rather odd for someone who blogs a lot about her personal and professional life-but I'm beginning to think there is a place for secrecy. In fact, there are some folks of whom it should be made mandatory! Recently a friend and I were talking about the advantages and disadvantages of meeting potential dates online. We agreed that while trolling for dates online cuts through a lot of the traditional first and second date preliminaries, it also facilitates an almost total lack of accountability. Hide your age. Photo-shop your figure. Make up a more appealing persona. Unburden yourself of your real persona to your potential swain-with the unwritten caveat that you are unwilling to risk actually meeting him or her in the flesh. These kinds of behaviors quite naturally breed intense suspicion on the part of potential dates-they wonder what their trial partners may be hiding and they develop certain self-protective behaviors in return. In our revolutionary moment on the communications spectrum, it is hard to find a way to build accountability into dialogue between lovers, employees and employeers or even bloggers and readers! (By the way, my rule, as I have said before, is not to write something in an email or in this blog that I would not be able to say to your face, should I meet you). I suspect that, given enough horrid experiences, we will start to be a little more appropriately cautious-less willing to share our secrets with those who are not mentally or spiritually well enough to hear them. If you aren't able, at least in theory, to be as good as your words, then perhaps you might want to consider keeping some of them to yourself.

lundi, décembre 04, 2006

Beyond diversity: the insignificance of the Episcopal Church

Over the weekend, at a diocesan convention, the Diocese of San Joaquin voted to pull out of the Episcopal Church-if they again affirm the decision at next year's Convention, it will be final. I can almost hear the rationales flying. They are so conservative, opposed to everything for which we stand as a church-the ordination of women, equality for gays, worship free from gender stereotypes. The diocesan Bishop, John David Schofield, has been a real pain, a stick-in-the-mud provocateur, some will probably argue. Beyond these opinions, admittedly a stereotype of liberal activism, is a more legitimate argument- that San Joaqin's decision to split from its parent body was one move in a chess game that the conservatives are playing in their bid to gain power in the Anglican Communion. All of that being said, what occured on Saturday is still tragic. Conservatives and liberals (I am neither, or perhaps both) have been remarkably cavalier in their concern for the souls of the men and women who make up the majority in the Episcopal Church. Or did, until it started to become an inhospitable place for those who vow fealty to neither side in this struggle for property and pensions. The Episcopal Church was once filled with clergy who were truly dedicated to having an impact-on conversations about public faith, on social justice issues, on how to pastor multi-cultural, mult-ethnic congregations, how to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. Now, in its twilight it will become one of a geriatric group of mainline congregations-a voice in the crowd competing for a hearing. Maybe this is not such a bad thing-after all, the Episcopal Church was, historically, a little too cosy with the political establishment. It is sadly paradoxical, though, that, in crying out for more tolerance for themselves, liberals and conservatives in the church were willing to sacrifice it in their own denomination. When will the lefties notice that many of us have quietly voted with our feet and found another pew...or perhaps decided to give up on seeking one at all?

dimanche, décembre 03, 2006

Peace Granny Sarah

Yesterday the local news had an item about the dismissal of charges agains the "Peace Grannies." A group of 11 women aged 60-84 had entered one of the Army's offices in Philadelphia and asked to enlist. Some were quoted as saying that they had lived most of their lives already. At first, I read in one account, the recruiters were inclined to let them enlist. Then they decided to call the police. The women were arrested. The charge? Defiant trespass. In dismissing the charge from last spring, the judge said that they had not been trespassing-the enlistment center is a public area. As I listened to the interview, and heard the tape of the onlookers cheering "Go Grannies, go" I was touched, not only by their courage, but by the poignancy of their willingness to take the consequences of their actions. Americans have had more than their fill of bluster from people who never served in the military or had their own children go to war, but are all too willing to send others sons and daughters off to die in a battle that has produced nothing but tragedy and bloodshed. Probably these elderly women were relatively sure that they would be not be welcome-but they could not be sure. I thought of my own grandma, the late Sarah Smith. As I wrote in previous posts, grandma had a soul as big as the world. I don't know if anything scared her-founding a merchant seaman's union, sneaking anti-Nazi literature on German ships, braving tear gas at anti-war rallies. When I was child, I met the Berrigans at a retreat for activists at Pendle Hill, a Quaker center near Swarthmore, PA. My sister recalls being introduced to the Socialist peace activist Norman Thomas at a birthday party for him. Grandma knew the men ignorant to believe that wars result in final victories, men who plan only in white and black, might not be swayed by the acts of an individual woman. But, oh, if a million women and men took to the streets...then the politicians might hear their cries and think of the political, if not the moral consequences of their decisions. My own peace grannie never lost her faith in the goodness of the American people, in the power of one vote, in our ability to right the ship of state. When I act to help the powerless, when I stay hopeful, when I try not to hate in return, then I honor her memory. What can you do to honor the presence of a "peace granny" in your own life? Someday you might look in the mirror and find out that she is staring back out at you.