Thursday, July 28, 2011

Taking a Chance

Here is my August newsletter article for the All Souls newsletter.
(with a special shout-out to Rev. Meg Riley, senior minister of Church of the Larger Fellowship, whose recent video on turning fear into love inspired this. You can view it at:

Someday I am going to ask my friend Paulus,
the dancer, the potter,
to make me a begging bowl
which I believe
my soul needs.

And if I come to you,
to the door of your comfortable house
with unwashed clothes and unclean fingernails,
will you put something into it?

I would like to take this chance.
I would like to give you this chance.

To Begin With, the Sweet Grass –Mary Oliver

Is it just me or do you some days feel as if the world is spinning out of control? We are on the brink of economic disaster on a national level that many of us already feel in our personal lives. A gunman hunts down and kills scores of young people on an island in Norway after setting off a car bomb in Oslo. And many of us feel as if we, too, face frightening things out of our control: a looming divorce, or the long wait for biopsy results; a significant loss. The temperature seems to rise as folks dismiss global warming, our level of anxiety and stress keeping pace with this precipitous climb.

In times like these it seems as if our default is to isolate. To burrow into our cocoon of fear and anxiety as if we expect transformation can happen in such an environment. Or else we posture and eye the opposing sides to see which one can give us the illusion of safety, creating an “us” and “them” mentality which also, conveniently, gives us someone to blame. Someone whose fault it is. It’s the Democrats! It’s the Republicans! It’s the undocumented citizens! It’s the border patrol.”

All of this and more has been eddying in my own mind for weeks, months. Who is right? Where will this all end? And into these questions comes Mary Oliver’s tender words. What if I came to the door of your comfortable home, with the filth of poverty and despair, of uncertainty and need like a halo around me, begging bowl in hand asking you to see me, to see me and not turn away? Would you put something in it?

What if we each did this with one another, open and vulnerable in our need. What if we broke through the isolation of our pain and fear and showed up in one another’s lives.

Now, in this time of uncertainty, is not the time for pointing fingers or placing blame. Now is not the time to isolate or draw up the moat to our souls.

Now, more than ever, is the time to take a chance in our humanity, to knock on one another’s doors, bowl in hand; begging, not for pity, but for compassion; for the opportunity to be seen rather than catalogued.  So I invite you this month, to take that chance, to knock on someone’s door.

And if someone knocks on your door, begging bowl in hand, bow to the gift and take a chance by opening up and letting them in. That is, I believe, the only way we ultimately can survive this adventure called life, in good times and bad.

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