Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ten Commandments for Mature Living #6
Bless more and curse less!
The mark of a deeply mature man or woman, the mark of a very mature disciple of Jesus, and the mark of someone truly giving their life away is this: he or she is a person who blesses others and blesses the world, just as God does and just as Jesus did. bless someone is to see and admire that person, to speak well of him or her, and give away some of your life so that he or she might have more life.

Blessing by seeing is one of the deep archetypal functions of all royalty, all parents, and all who lead others in any way: God blessed the world by seeing it… Normally blessings work from the top down, from those who have more power to those who have less… Young people may not overtly want the blessing of their elders -but they desperately need it.

I just finished JK Rowlings first novel for adults, The Casual Vacancy.  (Warning: it has graphic and disturbing parts, and therefore I do not recommend it for everyone.) I liked it a lot - (I finished it Sunday afternoon instead of taking my usual nap and walk in Washington Park! ) and I think this is why:  It is a novel that sees people. It takes you beyond the surface to see people as they are.

One of the characters, Krystal,  is a foul mouthed, promiscuous, angry 16 year old girl. Krystal has grown up with an addicted mother in “The Fields” - a drug and crime ridden housing estate. Her life is portrayed in unvarnished realism.   The novel opens with the death of the one person who ever really who blessed her - who saw her, saw something admirable in her, who spoke well of her and gave away his life so that she might have more life.

Barry Fairbrother came to the high school to put together a girls rowing team. He brought a rowing machine and asked for volunteers.

“Krystal Weedon”, said Barry, pointing at her. “I’ve seen you dangling off the monkey bars down the park; that’s proper upper body strength you've got there. Come and give it a go.”

Krystal ...swaggered up to the machine and sat down … heaved on the handle, making a stupid face… “Look at that!” Barry had said. “She’s a natural. Straighten your back. Thats it. Pull … pull… have you done this before?” Then Krystal really had straightened her back, and she really had done it properly….She hit a rhythm.

“Excellent!” said Barry. “Look at that, excellent! That’s how you do it!”

What was it that Barry had? He was always so present, so natural, so entirely without self-consciousness. Teenagers …. were riven with the fear of ridicule. Those who were without it, and God knows there were few enough of them in the adult world, had natural authority among the young…

But at the end of the exhibition, when Barry asked those who were interested in trying out for the team to raise their hands, Krystal kept her arms folded. Barry carefully noted down the names of the interested girls, then looked up.

“And you, Krystal Weedon,’” he said pointing at her. “You're coming too. Don’t you shake your head at me. I’ll be very annoyed if I don’t see you. That’s natural talent I see there. I don’t like to see natural talent wasted.”

Had Krystal thought about her natural talent as she showered at the end of the lesson? Had she carried the thought of her new aptitude around with her that day, like an unexpected Valentine? … to the amazement of all, except perhaps Barry, Krystal had turned up at tryouts… Barry had liked Krystal. He had seen in her things that were invisible to other people’s eyes.

In Sacred Fire Rolheiser writes:

In summary,we bless others when we see them, delight in their energy rather than feel threatened by it, and give away some of our own life to help resource their lives. Sadly, the reverse is also true: we curse others when we demand that they see and admire us, when we demand that they speak well of us, and when we use their lives to build up our own. A gesture of blessing feeds others; a cursing gesture feeds off of them.

Krystal, who had only ever been cursed, was, for once, blessed.

“Bless more and curse less!”

Friday, November 14, 2014

Ten Commandments for Mature Living #5

“Forgive: those who hurt you, your own sins, the unfairness of your life, and God for not rescuing you.”

“...and God for not rescuing you…”

I have had a lot of crises in the past 5 years - and I have been pretty mad at God. OK, real mad at God. For not keeping my friend Laurie’s cancer from coming back and killing her. For my daughter being in terrible pain and not being able to help her. For giving me all these people to take care of - when, as everyone knows, I’D RATHER BE READING A BOOK!!

I always tend to rescue people if I can. Seeing people in distress makes me uncomfortable, and sometimes rescuing them is more about my discomfort than about them. If I were God, I would be rescuing people even when they needed to not be rescued. (I am not a good leader for that very reason. Not a good god either, btw.)

One thing I have discovered is that I am a lot stronger than I thought. I never liked to quote the verse “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” because I mentally thought, “No, really, I don’t think I can…”  But  these last years I have fought and persevered more than I ever thought I could. So I am beginning (just beginning, mind you, and maybe a little reluctantly) to forgive God for not rescuing me.

I so, so don’t want to be a bitter, unforgiving old person.