one thing necessary

Christine Valters Paintner of Abbey of the Arts wrote a good piece on the Lenten journey of Truth telling, which I found to resonate alot with my own journey of late, and which also seems to me to be in line with the beginning of any journey into compassion.

Here is an excerpt
 “Each one of us carries grief, sorrow that has perhaps gone unexpressed or been stifled or numbed. Each of us has been touched by pain and suffering at some time. (our own or others, and isn’t this the core of compassion?~me) Yet we live in a culture that tells us to move on, to get over it, or to shop or drink our way through sorrow. Or to fill our moments with the chatter of TV and radio and laptops and ipods so that we never have to face the silent desert of our hearts. It is the same kind of attitude that forces us to answer “fine” when others ask how we are and we really aren’t. Even our churches often try to move us too quickly to a place of hope without fully experiencing the sorrow that pierces us.”

Do you know what it is you do to keep yourself away from experiencing… yourself?

Often it is something good, even very good… like food or phonecalls with loved ones or reading online blogs 🙂 … that has grown too big and so controls us, or that we easily continue to follow because we feel comfortable there.  Seems we can use almost anything to avoid or to cover up, anything to fill the cup of our lives with so much stuff that we can’t see what may be lying there at the bottom of it, waiting for us to pay attention. Or we stuff it so full that it breaks all together and we spill out all over the place … frazzled and unfocussed …. and so can carry nothing to its depths, nor really even offer a drink.

Consider giving that thing up this lent… that thing that fills your time and seeps away your creative energy, that thing that distracts you from paying attention to what lies deeper…. at least whatever small piece of it you can ( baby steps on the journey often take us farther than giant strides that are too big for us to keep up without falling down ). Take a day a week, or a time of day that you intentionally withdraw from that thing…. not because it is so terrible, or ‘sinful’, evil or bad, but because it takes you away from being most fully yourself, more fully awake to your deeper self, more fully human. Let go of that thing that prevents you from hearing the cries or the longings of your soul and so keeps you from discovering compassion for yourself.

“If we don’t have self-compassion, we are not going to have a lot of compassion for others.” –Janet Ruffing

I think for me that ‘one thing’ (gosh there are many, ugh) is my constant availability via technology of one sort or the other (cell phones and laptops), the ease of constantly ‘checking in’ that inevitably leads me astray (like hantzel and gretl’s crumbs to the witch’s castle), pulls me up short from deeper creative places in me, and is far too easy to turn to when i’m not wanting to go inside to be with the desert or the fear or the pain, and so, ironically, also keeps me from visiting more often the beauty that lies there. Conversely these same technologies can keep me trapped inside their walls rather than stepping outside myself to engage in the ‘real’ world that awaits right in front of me, in my partner, my friend, or my backyard.  

Certainly I learn of many life-giving ideas (like this Charter for Compassion, for instance) and discover and nurture many meaningful connections online or on the phone, but somehow more often my experience feels unconscious to me, as if I am not fully present and choice-full, as if I am drifting along at its mercy. (who is the slave? which is the master?).  It feels unboundaried, spilling and filling uncontrollably, when I am desiring to live my life with more intention… choosing the ‘yeses’ that will bring a creative fullness to my life and keep me loving from a place of deeper compassion.  And too often, of late, I find myself drifting into that ‘left’ or ‘right’ place of what’s-wrong-with-the-world information out there, which is more grounded in fear than it is anchored in love, more reactionary than it is listening deeply. I’d like live from a quieter place beneath all of that, a place from which I can flow Love.

So… what is that ‘one thing’ for you?

all is well, vicki

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