I am claustrophobic. I am a parent. So, watching the rescue of the boys from the Tham Luang cave, in what was called an “impossible mission,” tugged at every corner of my heart. But this is a very, very good thing, because I’ve spent so much of my life building emotional defense systems I’m always grateful to discover new corners of my heart.
The world watched. Prayed. Hoped. And cheered.
I loved this excerpt from the Washington Post. Piyada Chermuen, 16, came from the same village in Myanmar as Adul Sam-on, the English-speaking boy able to communicate with the British divers. They lived in the same Christian church with 20 other refugees, most of whom were sent to Thailand by their parents, so they could go to school.
Adul, 14, one of the Wild Boars’ best players, speaks five languages.
“We were praying for him when the teacher ran in and said they had been found,” Piyada said. Outside her classroom, a string of photos of Adul hung like prayer flags. “Thank God. We cheered so loud.”
You see, great stories make space. Because great stories are not just about finding a moral, or an invitation to take sides. Except to take the side of life. And Wholeness. And Wellbeing.
This week Bruce Springsteen wrote, “I never believed that people come to my shows, or rock shows, to be told anything. But I do believe that they come to be reminded of things. To be reminded of who they are, at their most joyous, at their deepest, when life feels full. It’s a good place to get in touch with your heart and your spirit. To be amongst the crowd. And to be reminded of who we are and who we can be collectively. Music does those things pretty well sometimes, particularly these days, when some reminding of who we are and who we can be isn’t such a bad thing.”
With stories we can hit the reset button. In order to remember our way.
A reminder that we are designed to live with empathy, altruism and cooperation.
Because here’s the deal: Whenever we forget that we belong to one another, we lose our way. And we see only what we want to see. And we live afraid.
Whenever we forget that everyone is a child of God, who begins with unique divine DNA (“an imago Dei that begs to be allowed, to be fulfilled, and to show itself,” writes Richard Rohr), we lose sight that we are wired to care. Wired to give a damn. Wired to not let anyone fall through the cracks of distrust or hatred or suspicion.
We are wired to care… What does that look like?
A family went out to restaurant for lunch. The waitress arrives, “What’ll you’ll have?” The husband gives his order, and then says, “And the wife will have…”
The waitress turns to the five-year-old daughter, “And sugar, what’ll you have?”
With a smile the little girl pipes up, “I’ll have a hot dog.” “Oh no she won’t,” interjects the dad. Turning to the waitress he says, “She’ll have meat loaf, mashed potatoes and milk.”
Looking at the child with a smile, the waitress asks, “So, hon, what do you’ll want on that hot dog?” As the waitress leaves, the father sits stunned and silent.
A few moments later the little girl, eyes still shining, says loudly, “Mom and Dad, Mom and Dad… that lady thinks I’m real.”
“It’s easy enough to see why so many people seem to be losing heart,” Jon Katz wrote. “Watching the news, I feel confused and powerless and sometimes, angry. The forces against what I perceive as good sometimes seem to be growing stronger by the day – greed, consumerism, racism, militarism, the corporate monster running lose, the fight for individualism. This was precisely the challenge St. Francis faced hundreds of years ago, in a time much darker than ours. He had to figure out his true self, what it meant to live a life that was generous and meaningful. He learned that the antidote to confusion, division and paralysis was a return to simplicity, one step at a time, one person at a time, one good thing at a time, the right-in-front-of-you idea of searching for the light and living with the darkness. His genius was that he saw what was hidden in plain sight. It was so simple it is almost impossible to see. The deeds you do may be the only sermon some people will ever hear, he wrote. ‘We have been called to heal wounds,’ Francis wrote, ‘to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way.’”
There is a lot of talk today about “radical” politics on both sides. The word raises eyebrows and ire. And creates FB prattle. But did you know that radical comes from the Latin word radix, meaning “root”? In other words, to be “radical” is to cut to the root of the issue, to deal with causes, not just symptoms.
So. Back to St. Francis. He lived with the very radical idea to choose weakness instead of strength, vulnerability instead of righteousness, truth instead of practicality, honesty instead of influence.
We cannot change the world except as we have changed ourselves.
We can only give who we are and what we are.
We can’t just pray, we must be the prayer.
And again, Bruce. “There’s the beautiful quote by Dr. King that says the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice. Now, there have been many, many days of recent when you could certainly have an argument over that. But I’ve lived long enough to see that in action and to put some faith in it. But I’ve also lived long enough to know, that arc doesn’t bend on its own. It needs all of us leaning on it, nudging it in the right direction, day after day. You’ve gotta keep, keep leaning. I think it’s important to believe in those words, and to carry yourself, and to act accordingly.”
Join me. Let’s be on the lookout this week. For places where we will not allow someone (even if that is our self) to fall through the cracks of distrust or hatred or suspicion.
The World Cup Final this morning, early. Which generated an agreeable English sentence, “Pub open 8 am Sunday.”
France made it somewhat one-sided. Even still, an accomplishment for Croatia.
The Tour de France is on. I can only shake my head, because what they do is flabbergasting.
Serena lost at Wimbledon, but hats off… one year after giving birth, she played for moms everywhere. You go girl.
It is hot here in the PNW. I just watched Heal The World, the Michael Jackson Tribute with Child Prodigies (video below). And I cried and found new corners of my heart.
Now I’m off to the patio with a very cold beer. And to finish a good book, Susan Kohn’s The Opposite of Hate.
POEMS AND PRAYERS
Do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world right now… Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is we were made for these times. Yes. Understand the paradox: If you study the physics of a waterspout, you will see that the outer vortex whirls far more quickly than the inner one. To calm the storm means to quiet the outer layer, to cause it to swirl much less, to more evenly match the velocity of the inner core – ’til whatever has been lifted into such a vicious funnel falls back to Earth, lays down, is peaceable again. One of the most important steps you can take to help calm the storm is to not allow yourself to be taken in a flurry of overwrought emotion or desperation thereby accidentally contributing to the swale and the swirl. Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good. What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take “everyone on Earth” to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale. One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others, both, are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do. There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it; I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate. The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours: They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for. This comes with much love and prayer that you remember who you came from, and why you came to this beautiful, needful Earth, Clarissa Pinkola Estes
The Place Where We Are Right
From the place where we are right
Flowers will never grow
In the spring.
The place where we are right
Is hard and trampled
Like a yard.
But doubts and loves
Dig up the world
Like a mole, a plow.
And a whisper will be heard in the place
Where the ruined
House once stood.
More than Mundane
If the mundane is
–all there is–
then I cannot ask the big questions.
The one about meaning or
What are we here for? or
Where do I go when I die?
If everything is sacred,
then you are fine
the way you are,
I can do this strange dance
though it may not be how I planned it,
and I learned, everyday that
Robin Heerens Lysne