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Daily Dose (Jan 24 – 27)

Tuesday —

A young couple moved into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they were eating breakfast, the young woman saw her neighbor hanging the washing outside.
“That laundry is not very clean; she doesn’t know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap.”
Her husband looked on, remaining silent. Every time her neighbor hung her washing out to dry, the young woman made the same comments.
A month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband, “Look, she’s finally learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this?”
The husband replied, “I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.”
And so it is with life… What we see when watching others depends on the clarity of the window through which we look.
So, don’t be too quick to judge others, especially if your perspective of life is clouded by anger, jealousy, negativity or unfulfilled desires. “Judging a person does not define who they are. It defines who you are.” (Thank you Jonathan Kestenbaum)
It is not easy to change our paradigm. It means to give up our blinders, our blind spots, our prejudice. For whatever reason, we’ve tethered our identity (our worth and our value) to them.
As a result, we live with Scotoma, or selective blindness. We see only what we want to see.
Why? Lord only knows… Only that we shut down any willingness to be surprised and spend our energy finding some kind of box (or is it a cage?) to put our disquiet in.
So. In a world we don’t see or believe or wish or hope for… can we choose to change? Can we remove our blinders?
Can we choose to make a difference?
Can we choose to be instruments for what is possible?
Where there is darkness, can we sow light?
Here’s the deal: The answer is yes.

As long as we have an internal mechanism that honors or values…
…tidiness over muddled;
…closure (certainty) over ambiguity;
…normal over odd;
We will be quick to judge and quicker to dismiss.
Gratefully, the world is bigger and more full of grace than we “see”. So, it is no wonder moments of grace can surprise (and unnerve) us. And yes, make us laugh out loud.

The sunset tonight in Florida pulled out all the stops to keep us pointing and saying, “Loook.” Rubicund rivers above the horizon in the western sky. And the moon, now only a sliver, smiling to welcome us.

Wednesday —

A farmer bought a new hunting dog. On their first duck hunting day, the farmer shots a duck, which falls into the lake. The retriever leaps into action, walking across the lake to retrieve the duck. The farmer rubs his eyes, incredulous. “I’ve got to see this again,” he says out loud to the trees. Another shot, another duck plummets into the lake. Again, the dog eagerly trots across the water to fetch the duck. Beside himself, the farmer is giddy with delight.
“This is a miracle,” he shouts, again to the trees. Wanting to share the miracle, he runs to his neighbor’s house and urges him to return to the lake.
“Watch this,” he instructs, “and tell me if you see anything unusual.” A shot. A duck plummets. The retriever trots across the water and returns with the duck.
“Well?” the farmer asks eagerly.
“Hmmm,” muses his neighbor scratching his chin, “I can’t say that I notice anything abnormal.”
He’s nuts, the farmer is thinking. “Watch again. Concentrate this time.” One more shot. Another duck. The retriever dutifully walks across the water to fetch it.
“Ohhhh,” the neighbor lights up with recognition. “Now I see what is different! I don’t think your dog can swim.”

Scotoma (selective blindness) means that we see want we want to see. It is a form of selective blindness. And it is no respecter of persons. There are a number of reasons for my own scotoma. I do not see the dog walking on the water because I want to be right, or normal, or in the mainstream, or theologically correct, or accepted, or afraid that anything out of the ordinary will rock my emotional boat. I am stuck in my categories.
So. How do my blinders come off?
It has something to do with letting go.
When you let go, you can be grateful for what you receive.
When you’re grateful, you don’t have to have every question settled.
It’s enough just to celebrate, whatever it is that made you grateful. The farmer’s secret? He saw himself as the luckiest man on earth. He was giddy, childlike.
The corollary is Jesus’ comment, “Unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Like children indeed… yes and amen…

Thursday —

But what if the parables of Jesus are not about “getting” the truth?
What if the parables are about letting the truth “get you?”
What would happen if we honored mystery instead of certainty?
Or in some way, receive the permission to grapple with opposites (our invitations to mystery) allowing us to enter into (and yes, transform) our world.

As long as we have an internal mechanism that honors or values…
…tidiness over chaotic;
…certainty over ambiguity;
…normal over odd;
We will fear whatever is unknown or unfinished or different or in some way askew.
Even worse, we will ask, “What’s wrong?”  Seeing every flaw as an indictment.  Or perhaps a catastrophe waiting to happen.
Listen to Thomas Moore’s thoughts about intimacy. “The soul is always complicated.  Most of its thought and emotions could never be expressed in plain language. You could have the patience of Job and still never understand your partner (or friend or lover or family member), because the soul by nature doesn’t lend itself to understanding or to clarity of expression. We may have to enter the confusion of another’s soul, with no hope of ever finding clarity, without demanding that the other be clear in expressing her feelings and without the hope that one day this person will finally grow up or get better or express herself more plainly.”

Is that enticing or what?
The problem is that Moore is spot on, and what he is saying messes with my assumption that everything (or everyone) is a fixable problem. And—of course—we all know who is to blame. (Fill in the blank here… with your favorite villain.)
But here’s the deal: With life in a box, we see what we want to see. We hear what we want to hear.
A woman stands at the street corner, waiting for the WALK sign. Beside her stands a man, holding a leash tethered to a very large and menacing dog. Nervously she asks, “Does your dog bite?”  “No,” the man replied. Less wary, the woman continues to wait, and the dog nips at her shoe. “Hey,” she told the man. “You told me your dog didn’t bite.” “He doesn’t,” the man replied. “But this isn’t my dog.”

And as soon as I make the choice to demand certainty or closure, I am quick to judge and quicker to dismiss. I suppose, if I ‘fess up, it comes back to my need to be in control.
Perhaps I can let go of my need for answers.
Or my need for closure.
Or my need for a villain (or an enemy of any kind).
Here’s the good news… When I look past my labels and see the sacred in the mystifying, the puzzling, the messy, the unruly and the meager, it is to the pure nourishment to my heart.

Friday —

In his book Finding God in Unexpected Places, Philip Yancey talks about a South African woman named Joanna, who began a prison ministry that radically transformed one of her country’s most violent prisons.
When Yancey asked her how she did it, she said: “Well, of course, Philip, God was already present in the prison. I just had to make Him visible.”

There is some kind of filter in our minds—or spirits—that decides…
What is ridiculous (abnormal) and what is not.
What is possible and what is not.
What is imaginable and what is not.
What is sacred and what is not.
In a world we don’t see or believe or wish or hope for…
Can we choose to change?
Can we remove our blinders?
Can we choose to make a difference?
Can we choose to be instruments for what is possible?
Can we be springs of mercy and tenderheartedness?
(Think of Tommy’s Grandmother hugging him after he told her why he made all his pictures with black crayon.)
Where there is darkness, can we sow light?
Here’s the deal: The answer is yes. 

Enjoying my days in Florida, walking, sitting by the Gulf, reading, swimming, time with friends and unrepentant napping. And smiling at the Floridians who think their weather is chilly.

Prayer for our week…
Come Into The Quiet
As we enter into the quiet stillness of this present moment,
we awaken to everything around us,
without and within,
as if for the first time,
seeing with new eyes,
with an open heart,
resting in peace,
flowing with joy,
in the loving radiance
of our Beloved…
Seeing as if from our heart,
with eternal eyes.
Bob Holmes

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