Thursday, April 10, 2008

practice makes better, right?

yeah, i'm throwing "perfect" out of my vocab...

so, since i began organizing a homeschooling co-op in my area, i have had lots and lots and LOTS of opportunities to practice handling my anger in a productive, level-headed, present and aware kind of way. now...i said practice. not the kind where i do my ideal over and over. more like when my kids practice their musical pieces and after hearing them stop, start, make a mistake, hit the wrong note, back up a few notes, proceed a few more, make another mistake, stop, back up a couple...well, maybe you can hear some faint idea of what they might be trying to play...kind of embarrassing when they announce it was "hot cross buns" or something like that...but that is what i've kind of been looking like this week. only no one watching me has any idea how long i've been playing this instrument, so that helps...sort of.

today my church turned us down on hosting our co-op. (we still need a location) i really can't call it "my" church, because while it is the church i attend on sundays, it is not the church in which i am registered as a member. (something i mentioned at today's meeting and my spouse later told me i should not have and learn) my spouse was really pretty upset that we were turned down. but i was not so much. i think i am getting quite used to not getting my way and learning to wait for the opportunity that is coming that will blow everything wide open. i suppose it's a bit of faith.

speaking of which... now that i've finished his dark materials, i'm back to reading simplicity by richard rohr. here are the passages i really enjoyed last night and need a place to record them for posterity.

The act of our faith consists in donating and giving away what we don't yet have--that's what makes it faith. This is hard for us to understand: how can I give away something that I don't even have? Nevertheless I go out and heal others, even though I myself am not yet healed. I heal them through my brokenness, not through my power! A church community that doesn't include an outwardly directed service for others, a service extending beyond itself, is simply not a Church, it's not Christ. It's psychology or false transcendence. That doesn't mean that psychology is a bad thing; it just isn't the same thing.

I believe that what we all need is wisdom. I'm very disappointed that we in the Church have passed on so little wisdom. Often the only thing we've taught people is to think that they're right--or that they're wrong. We've either mandated things or forbidden them. But we haven't helped people to enter upon the narrow and dangerous path of true wisdom. On this path we take the risk of making mistakes. On this path we take the risk of being wrong. That's how wisdom is gained. On the spiritual path the enemy isn't pain; it's fear of pain. We haven't become wise because we're so afraid of pain.

We'll never conquer evil if we launch a frontal assault. If we do that we may incorporate into ourselves the energy and the weapons of evil. We can end up turning into what we hate. That's why Jesus told us we have to love our enemies, otherwise we become just like them. Hitler is thought to have said that the wonderful thing about Nazism was that all those who directly attacked it became fascists themselves in the process.

The third poverty the Bible speaks of is the poverty of a simple and humble life. It is the challenge of living simply, of placing our hope and our trust in god and in other people instead of in material things. Because we never learned to take that seriously, in either the Catholic or the Protestant tradition, we have fallen prey to the totalitarian systems of this century that always force us to do what Jesus asks us to do freely. Communism tries to enforce equality, Nazism tries to enforce security and solidarity within a group, fundamentalist religion tries to shame and psychologically coerce people into an "only way." The biblical God seems to just call us to simplicity and patience, which keeps us outside of every totalitarian big system or overarching explanation. It looks as if God always takes the risk of freedom: God too demands, but then God simply waits. God waits as long as necessary until we can love of our own free will. God is not only modest, God is also very patient. The political systems of this world have no patience.

that last paragraph really got me. my father was one hell of a drunk when i was younger. my stepmother left him when i was sixteen years old. they were separated for ten years before they remarried each other. i think about five years into that separation, my grandmother finally got in my father's face one afternoon as he was little german grandmother, who could be meaner than hell and induce a guilt trip in under three seconds, but who hardly ever said really ugly things about anyone...and told my father he was nothing but a fucking drunk. and the fact that he shared that story with me later tells me how much it shook him. he still drank for a long time. he was forty-three and in jail on his second or third dui when it occurred to him that drinking wasn't getting him where he wanted to be. i always hold that in my hand...for those times when i wonder if my sons will ever learn to (fill in the blank)...that my dad was forty-three. but he did finally get it. i don't know why that buoys me, but it does, and that is enough for me to hold on....and try to cultivate a little more patience.


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