I’m studying the book of Ecclesiastes in a Scripture Class at my church. We are using a book by my favorite Rabbi, Rami Shapiro. He boils Ecclesiastes down to accepting the reality of the present moment without judging it as good/bad, happy/sad, bright/dark. There’s none of this gritting of teeth and bearing things in hope for a reward of heaven or a star in our crown. It’s about accepting everything in this moment: myself, others, pain, joy, beauty, ugliness and by accepting the now…whole, we experience the grace, the transcendent in it.
God is in the reality of the present moment. It is all we actually have. But it is everything.
To me, this is the key to personal and universal healing, transformation, wholeness, and peace. This is where grace can take us if we let go of the prejudices, fears and idols of our ego.
“The dichotomies of imagination and rationalization, intuition and intellect, heart and mind, heaven and earth, feminine and masculine need to be viewed less as polarities than as partners in a delicate dance of balance and harmony. Only by embracing all parts of ourselves are we able to know the wholeness of the world and our inherent inseparability and interdependence with it.” Mini Farelly-Hansen
(Copied from the Blog: Make Believe Boutique)
A women’s group at my church, known as The Doves, is having a Scripture based class on Conflict Resolution. Several people have stopped coming to our church because someone hurt their feelings, sometimes even just because someone seemed to ignore them. But when I invited them to the class, they said they didn’t have any conflicts to resolve.
In the past avoidance was one of my favorite ways of escaping conflict. I have shared before about getting my feelings hurt, then just cutting people out of my life, and even letting them die before ever resolving or reconciling. These people didn’t even know they had hurt me, because it was unintentional. With age I have gained a new perspective on many things, and I deeply regret abandoning these friends.
During the first gathering of the new class, a lot of unresolved hurt came out, even with each other in the class. But almost no one spoke in anger or in judgment. We simply admitted our feelings of hurt and listened when people explained a situation from another viewpoint or when someone pointed out the good in the offending person.
No one is perfect and we all bump into each other. Most times when we get seriously offended, it is because the other person has unwittingly blundered into an area where we feel particularly vulnerable.
Some people deal with the world mostly through logic and fact. And often are unaware of their own or others’ feelings. Since truth is their highest value, they do not automatically understand the effect it might have on another person’s feelings.
On the other hand, many of us simply see the world through our feeling values and respond to it straight from our feelings. Often, we have great difficulty working through them to logic.
For those whose values are truth, fact, and logic, even ordinary everyday conversations with feeling types are like exploring a minefield without a map.
Learning either how to say the truth tactfully, or when it might be more diplomatic to not say anything, is a serious challenge for them.
For those of us who live in our feelings, it helps to become aware of areas of insecurity and try to become free of them, and failing that, to learn to risk telling others how what they said made us feel. At least in a long term relationship, this will give the truth and logic partners a map of the minefield!
I have a friend who told me that when she was about six or seven, there was a rich little girl who came to their Sunday School in fancy clothes and white Mary Jane shoes. My friend was jealous of the little girl and took advantage of every chance she got, to scuff the bottom of her shoe across the pure white top of her Mary Jane shoes.
Sometimes, we really consciously mean to hurt others, but most of the time it is either inadvertent or an unconscious response.
I discovered late in life that I quite often scuff people’s Mary Janes in more subtle and less conscious ways, but it still leaves people feeling diminished. Most times before the last decade or so, I was not conscious of it, and sometimes the victims didn’t even know exactly what made them feel scuffed.
For conflict resolution to become an effective tool, it first takes commitment on everyone’s part and a willingness to become self-aware, even uncomfortably so.
Our group cares about each other and most of us have learned to love even the people we don’t always like. But still it’s a scary venture into our dark sides.
Prayer and knowing we are loved unconditionally, at least by God, will hopefully give us the grace to learn to use this tool for peace. All prayer for grace for us is greatly appreciated.
I used to believe that good people were perfectly good. Or at the very least, they were headed to it, gathering speed as they aged.
Now, I know a whole lot of nice dead people who never got anywhere near perfect.
Even worse, now that I’m old, I seem to be getting less good each year, or maybe just more obviously not so great.
I’m beginning to think it’s a little like the Velveteen Rabbit story. Our pretty and soft coverings wear thin from the lessons about loving that we get from bumping up against other people.
We begin to look a lot less good or at least a more spotty good, than when we had the energy to fake it,
Freedom has its price and becoming free to be real is expensive.
But when we realize that we can see the door from here, we finally get it:
Only skinny, naked, spotty, worn looking camels, clinging to nothing can make it through that narrow gate.
Ain’t that grand!