Sherry Turkle visited a Darwin exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History with her teenage daughter. At the entrance of the show stood a cage with two grand Galapagos turtles. Magnificent creatures from a fantasy world.
Feeling sorry for the turtles, and completely unmoved by the wonder of their presence, Turkle’s daughter remarked that the museum could “just as well have used robots.” Other children in line agreed, to their parent’s dismay.
Intrigued, Turkle returned again and again to interview visitors to the exhibit and found that for most children “aliveness doesn’t seem worth the trouble and seems to have no intrinsic value.” Moreover, if a realistic robotic turtle was used, the children didn’t think people needed to be told that it wasn’t real, or alive. (From Sherry’s book Distracted)
Yes, I shake my head in bemusement.
But I get it. And we can say that our world takes the “kid-ness” out of our kids. But it’s not just children. Using a robot (or living robotic) is easier. And not just for Galapagos turtles. I have done the same thing with my own emotional and spiritual life. And with my heart.
Why? That’s simple, because it works.
And, it’s a good way to protect myself. You know, to live guarded from the “pinpricks and caresses of the real world”.
This story about the turtles resonates, and at our workshop on Saturday (Venice, Florida), we talked about Soft Hearts from Hard Places, and we had good conversations about how fear and disquiet can put a bushel over our light. More specifically, about the uncertainty that comes with being real, living wholehearted (and openhearted), living authentic and true to our self, being at home in our own skin.
These conversations always invite me to dig deep, and to be unafraid to be honest about what I see inside. So, here we go…
Will you be my friend?
There are so many reasons why you never should:
Often I’m too serious, seldom predictably the same,
Sometimes cold and distant, probably I’ll always change.
I bluster and brag, seek attention like a child.
I brood and pout, my anger can be wild,
But I will make you laugh
And love you quite a bit
And be near when you’re afraid.
I shake a little almost every day
Because I’m more frightened than the strangers ever know
And if at times I show my trembling side
(The anxious, fearful part I hide)
Will you be my friend?
Here’s the deal: To love at all (anything in life) is to be vulnerable. I get it. I do.
What troubles me, is that when I feel unnerved or unsettled or afraid, I become wary of the very gifts—thoughts, feelings, desires, passions, yearnings, creative impulses, callings (to be peacemaker and healer)—that God put inside of me.
So, as I protect myself, I hide these gifts.
Or, I decide that robotics is better.
It reminds me of the dean’s speech, at the school where Patch Adams studied medicine, “We’re going to train the humanity out of you and make you something better. We’re going to make you doctors.”
Wow. Because I don’t believe that living vulnerable is a safe place, I live guarded by default. It’s as if I see these desires (these gifts)—bubbling up and combustible and unstinting—as an indictment of weakness, and therefore no place God can live.
Well, my friends, that belief is just plain wrong.
I heard Brian McClaren talk about the Genesis creation story. Genesis says that God created and called it good. Notice this: God did not call it perfect. Meaning what? Meaning that if it were perfect, we would merely be a maintenance crew. Instead, we are very active co-creators, involved in the process… the ongoing and unfolding of God’s presence in this world. Yes.
As co-creators we are invited to approach life with open arms. To live vulnerable. Or, in the words of Alan Jones, I want to know if joy, curiosity, struggle and compassion bubble up in a person’s life. I’m interested in being fully alive. And I say Amen.
So, tell me, where does joy, curiosity, struggle, empathy and compassion bubble up in your life? (And let’s not put our “bubbling up” through the paces of “not enough” or “I’ll do better next time”.)
I am keenly aware of the scrimmage in my spirit about sharing or confessing too much. Harkening back to the warning we received in seminary, “Don’t be too personal with your parishioners.” Lord have mercy.
The Turkle story is honest about our inclination about what we will trade for comfort. Real for plastic. Vulnerability for control. Untidiness for order.
This is not about what we are able to tolerate. It is an invitation to embrace the gifts and the power we have, to choose to bring our whole self… our uncertain and fractured and vulnerable whole self to this sacred moment. Our fragility doesn’t diminish our capacity. In fact, it magnifies it. A good reminder that we are still loved by an extraordinarily compassionate and benevolent and grace-overflowing Creator, even though we are often afraid. The gift of enough.
This is a wonderful reminder that we can bring our vulnerable, open-hearted, co-creator self to the broken world in which we live. And there are a lot of broken places in our world. This week alone, the news—Tyre Nichols beating, a shooting near a synagogue in Jerusalem, California shootings—renders us speechless. While looking away feels safer or easier, we forget that our light can spill from our own broken places, to break toxic cycles and to heal wounded hearts… even our own.
On a plane back to Seattle today. Tomorrow I will have to give the geese an account of my conversations with the Florida pelicans.
Quote for our week…
Sometimes the world tries to knock it out of you. But I believe in music the way some people believe in fairy tales. August Rush (the movie)
Today’s Photo Credit: “This is sunrise on the Sea of Cortez. I always enjoy reading Sabbath Moment every day. I especially enjoyed sharing it with my Centering Prayer group in Boise. Thank you so much,” Bobbie Birdsall… Thank you Bobbie… Keep sending your photos… send to terryhershey.com
Yes, your gift makes a difference… Donation = Love…
Help make Sabbath Moment possible. I write SM because I want to live with a soft heart; to create a place for sanctuary, empathy, inclusion, compassion and kindness… a space where we are refueled to make a difference. SM remains free.
(NEW address by check: PO Box 65336, Port Ludlow, WA 98365
Letters that do my heart good…
–“Your story of the black crayon is true. Although I didn’t send it my youngest twin, Steven gave the same answer when he was questioned about his black drawings about 48 years ago. He’s a Police Officer now. Bless you for happiness you bring,” Andrea
–“Good morning, Terry, the picture today is wonderful, when you look at the teardrop of water you see a reflection of a Church. As a brother in ministry, I appreciate trying to see the world as belonging to God, that is what the picture ‘said’ to me. Every ocean began with a drop of water. Have a blessed day and thanks for the inspiration you set forth. Peace on this day which God makes His own,” Tom
–“I want to express how much your Sabbath Moment has meat to me and many of my friends. Each one invites me to live more fully, be my authentic self, and deepen my relationship with God. What a gift! Thank you. Blessings,” Cynthia
POEMS AND PRAYERS
I met a little girl
Who came from another land.
I couldn’t speak her language
but I took her by the hand.
We danced together,
Had such fun
Dancing is a language
You can speak with everyone.
I once spoke to my friend, an old squirrel, about the Sacraments–
he got so excited
and ran into a hollow in his tree and came
back holding some acorns, an owl feather,
and a ribbon he had found.
And I just smiled and said, “Yes, dear,
St. Francis of Assisi
Translation by Daniel Ladinsky
Love Poems From God: Twelve Voices from the East and West
Circle me O God
Keep hope within
Circle me O God
Keep peace within
Keep turmoil out.
Circle me O God
Keep calm within
Keep storms without.
Circle me O God
Keep strength within
Keep distress out.
Celtic Caim Prayer