Kindness and Compassion

Be encouraged just to be with your pain—do not try to rid yourself of it—and allow kindness and compassion to surround it. Paraphrased from: http://tinybuddha.com/blog/self-compassion-learning-to-be-nicer-to-ourselves/

Yes. Hard to do. But worthy of the effort of trying. If you have compassion and acceptance for others, then you deserve that for yourself.  You do not see yourself the same way that others see you. Others no doubt see you as wonderful and worthy. You probably do not see yourself that way. I know I don’t. It is hard to accept one’s own worth and essential worth sometimes.

But work and meaning and goal and purpose take us (take ME) somewhere meaningful. It is difficult to see ourselves as necessary, but we of course ARE NECESSARY.

I know that  you can think of at least one person that you are necessary for.  My person has always been my son: for the past 18 years I have been necessary for him.  He has needed me in a very fundamental way.  What has often motivated me to be good, healthy, well-adjusted is knowing that he needs a parent who embodies all those qualities. I am therefore HIGHLY MOTIVATED TO BE ALL THOSE THINGS. 🙂

I think the key to having a purpose in life is finding a reason to be your best self.

Give people the benefit of the doubt, ok?

This is a thought based off of a very recent conversation I had. I.e. just a few minutes ago.
About people thinking they can just diss you or threaten you or ruin your life because you are not real to them. They forget that there are real people on the other end of the conversations.
So as a result people think “oh so-and-so was a bitch/asshole and said something stupid, ignorant and pissy. So we are going to ruin their lives completely.”

Well NO. is that a real way to be with someone? There’s a PERSON on the other end who is saying whatever and you have to mind whether they are saying what you THINK they are saying or maybe something else that you are just getting plain wrong about them

You could always just ask kindly, “hey what do you mean by that???”

Hey give people some benefit of the doubt okay??

So here is an example of what I am talking about (personally) I pissed off some people online and they decided to be immature about it and threatened to call my church about it, saying they would tell my church they should not accept me as a member any more. OMG. How immature. I’ve been with this church for 15 years. People in it can love me or hate me. People could call up and tell the minister or staff what a shit person I am based on my online behavior and whether they agree with me or not. BUT…in the end please judge me on whether yo u think I have been an honorable person or not, an ethical person or not. Judge me for being myself.

Healing Through Art

Yesterday at Wildflower UU Church, our ministerial intern Erin Walter delivered a sermon entitled “Art and Soul: Spiritual Enrichment through the Arts”. She asked the following questions: “How will the arts help you heal? How will they empower you? How will art fuel the revolution?”

How does creativity and passion fuel your life? How does it focus your life? I ask these questions of myself! How can art heal me? Fulfill me? Every single day I struggle with these questions. In fact, how can anything heal me? It doesn’t have to be ART. It could be anything that I pick to focus my attention and soul on.

She really didn’t touch on what she meant by “the revolution” though. Revolutionize society or the self or both? When I hear the phrase “the revolution” I think of political revolutions in history like the Cuban Revolution or the Bolshevik Revolution. But I don’t think Erin meant that. But I don’t know what she meant by it.

Suddenly I am thinking about how people are damaged and why they are damaged and why they need healing. I wonder about people who aren’t damaged or don’t think they are damaged. Or they don’t need healing of any sort. Who are these people? What are they like? Are they dull? Egotistical? Narcissistic?

Anyways, I’ve included the doodle I did during the service and it includes a phrase she said that really struck me.

art-healing0

The Bible on Gender Identity

image uploaded by Frances Osborne Austin TX
The Bible on Gender Identity

My UU Church is officially a “welcoming church,” something I am enormously proud of.  I don’t think I’d ever be a member of any church or congregation that wasn’t a welcoming church.  I just roll that way.

But until recently, I think that just meant for us that we accepted gay people and gay relationships.  With the addition of a new developmental minister and his ministerial intern, I believe my UU church has broadened its definition and focus regarding transexuality, gender identity, and fluidity.

The ministerial intern is highly active in trans issues — something I immediately noticed when she used the term “cisgender.” Not a term widely known about, but one that I was recently introduced to and was incorporating into my vocabulary.  Learning about these issues is very new to me and I am in that awkward phase where I’m still kind of old school about the binary gender identification — I like to categorize people one way or the other — and alternatively understanding and accepting that people can be anywhere on the spectrum.  And that spectrum is probably both a choice and a biological issue? (I don’t know — would have to find out!  Would welcome someone discussing it with me!)

Any ways, I am on that fulcrum of accepting and embracing people on the spectrum, and yet being befuddled and confused when interacting with people on the spectrum.  Because my need to categorize the person kicks in.  What pronoun do I use and if I am not sure, is it okay to ask? Is it okay to be confused? How do I be respectful and is there a “one way” to be respectful or do I have to go through a unique process with each person to determine respectful behavior?

My church’s ministerial intern has introduced our congregation to a lot of her friends. I found myself interacting with one of her friends in a way that I am not very proud of.  I looked at this person and just blurted out, “I’m so glad you are here, so glad to meet you, but I am getting mixed signals on your gender!!” After saying that, I felt bad! Ashamed and out of sorts with myself.  Because perhaps I wasn’t living up to my UU values???? Wasn’t “accepting”? (And does “accepting” mean “not saying anything?” another question for another time perhaps).

So what I did was go “confess my sin” to the ministerial intern.  Oh I was so devastated with myself and so hard on myself and so in doubt with myself about my acceptance of people in all their forms and all their fluidity and all their spectrum!!!  (This is an example of what I term “UU Guilt” which is probably yet another blog post!!!)

Later the intern had a lovely conversation with me about this and wanted to work with me about how to handle situations that confused me.  She was worried about me — but I was not worried at all about myself, I was more worried about her friend. Because my supreme value and trait that I care about most in myself is caring about how the other person feels.  I did not wish her friend to be offended, hurt, feel unloved or unwanted, or somehow questioned. Her friend was totally welcome there and my own reaction and confusion was entirely my own.

Further Reading: http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/transgender.aspx

Postscript: I just realized that I started off by mentioning what The Bible has to say about gender, and then never pursued it….so maybe a more in depth topic for the next post???

Some Statements of Belief

Well just because I like to remind myself of what I believe in, I’ll repeat some belief statements I just made in another conversation here. it is good to have principles and to stand up for them.

1. Any time I can have a civil discussion I’ll try to have one. It is in my nature.

2. I don’t like judging a whole group of people on the actions of a few.

3. I also don’t think my political affiliation has anything to do with my compassionate regard for people [meaning, generalizing along party lines is an awful lot like generalizing along gender lines]

4. It is your right to dislike or like anyone you please. You also have a right to live your life according to your religious principles

5. .But I will also stand up against labeling entire groups of people based on the actions of just a few or a small percentage of them

6. Humanity — all humanity — is important to me. On a personal level I do not separate out segments of humanity that are not deserving of my spiritual compassion and regard. That is where I am coming from, emotionally and spiritually.

7. Many have forgiven, many will forgive, many will transcend what has happened to them and go on to perform great acts of courage, kindness, and compassion

The Compassion Exercise

Compassion Exercise Picture

 

THE COMPASSION EXERCISE

“Just Like Me” by Harry Palmer


source:

Honesty with one’s self leads to compassion for others.

Objective: To increase the amount of compassion in the world.

Expected Result:: Increase in understanding and a personal sense of peace.

Instructions: This exercise can be done anywhere that people congregate (airports, events, beaches, etc.). It should be done on strangers, unobtrusively and from some distance. Try to do all five steps on the same person.

  1. With your attention on the person, repeat to yourself: “Just like me, this person is seeking some happiness for (his or her) life.
  2. With your attention on the person, repeat to yourself: “Just like me, this person is trying to avoid suffering in (his or her) life.
  3. With your attention on the person, repeat to yourself: “Just like me, this person has known sadness, suffering, and despair.”
  4. With your attention on the person, repeat to yourself: “Just like me, this person is seeking to fill (his or her) needs.”
  5. With your attention on the person, repeat to yourself: “Just like me, this person is learning about life.”

Variations of the Just Like Me process:

  1. Done by couples to increase understanding of each other.
  2. Done on old enemies and antagonists still present in one’s memories.
  3. Done on alien life forms.

Copyright 1994 by Star’s Edge, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Copyright © 1996. The Light Party.

The Most Basic Form of Love

When I go to yoga, I always keep an ear out for anything spiritual that the teacher might say. On Friday, the yoga teacher quoted a Zen Buddhist teacher, John Tarrant: “Attention is the most basic form of love. Through it we bless and are blessed.”

I googled the quote and found this lovely article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/…/attention-is-the-most-bas…

When I read it, I simply replaced “marriage” with “relationship” — any kind of relationship that is fundamental to one‘s life.

At the end of the article, these lines really hit me hard. They are so in line with my UU spiritual values — about respecting the inherent dignity and inner worth of each person. These lines are such a lovely way to ACT upon those spiritual values (because what good is a spiritual value if you don’t translate it to action?)

I will see you, just as you are, if only for this moment.

I will hear you, just your voice, if only for this heartbeat.

I will pay attention.

Because I love you…

And you’ll be gone so soon.

Being Gay is No Big Deal

Anne Hathaway discusses her attitude about homosexuality, her brother, and gay marriage.

I sooooo agree with her. Why is is “brave” to come out as a decent, loving, accepting human being? It’s not “brave” to openly love one’s brother or sister, son or daughter, mother or father, friend or fellow human being.

You can make the argument that Christianity forbids engaging in homosexual love. It’s true — it does. No getting around that. The Old Testament is pretty clear about that.  BUT. It does not forbid its followers from loving, accepting or being decent to them.  God loves and accepts and asks us to do the same. It is not up to us imperfect humans to judge another’s imperfections, choices, inclinations, leanings or makeup (sexual, personality, etc or otherwise).

You might wonder why I, as a non-Christian, address this meme and issue with references to God, the Bible and Christianity. I think it’s because as a UU we do accept Christianity as a religious source. Plus, I’d prefer to discuss religious objections to homosexuality within the context of that particular religion. (And I do have an advantage of having been raised within Episcopalianism growing up) UU itself has no issue at all with a person’s sexuality.  Also, when I write the word “God” there’s always this translation in my head from “God” to “Universe” or “Spirit of Life.” When I hear a Christian/Jew/Muslim say the word “God” I do a similar translation.

Is Kim Davis brave? Yeah. I don’t agree with her at all. But I guess she is “brave” in the same way. She stood up for her beliefs, she took a lot of criticism, she has endured being the most hated woman in the US. (Currently. That could change 5 minutes from now!!!!) I’m certainly NOT crazy about her at all. I don’t despise her, I don’t have anger towards her.  I certainly DO NOT HAVE much sympathy for her. But the UU in me respects her dignity and right to conscious as a human being — even as I’ll contend she needs to step down from her job if she finds she is unable to perform the duties her job asks her to do.  I fail to understand why she does not accept our Constitution’s separation of church and state. Her religious beliefs should not interfere with her performance of her public duty.

Which calls to mind Ben Carson’s statement that he thinks a Muslim cannot or should not be the President of the United States…. which is probably another blog post!

Spirit By Nature

We are all spirit by nature; therefore all that we do is spiritual. Because one third of our whole being is spirit, we cannot even choose to be spiritual; it is what we are regardless — it is, in my mind, the very definition of being alive and being a human.

Seeking to live in a spiritual (or moral, ethical, thoughtful) way has not spared me from the normal peaks and valleys of human emotion or physical limitations. I live in the real world and I live a real life. I fail — I stumble — I fall. Sometimes, I have trouble getting back up! It is then that I have to realize that spirituality is a choice and a lifestyle; it’s not a means to an end. Spirituality to me is not a goal: it’s a process.

I am presented with many choices daily. What I  choose determines the character of the experience and its consequences. When I make a mistake, I look back on it and worry that I have wasted a part of my life fixing that mistake. So I strive to remember that it has brought me to this unique moment in my life.

SPIRITUALITY IS STRIVING, NOT AN OBJECTIVE.

Being a practicing Unitarian Universalist has really supported me in this process. I feel encouraged by UU’s dedication to appreciating a person’s individual path and journey. Its philosophy and world view inspires me and reassures me. When I am dispirited, I have a ready community of people who understand my journey and can bolster me. They help me rise up when I struggle — when my journey has stalled.

For as long as I am here, I shall seek to better my life and the lives of those around me. There are those who say humanity’s spirituality is in a state of arrest. I do not wish to be a part of that. We are all creators of our environment!

Do You Have Some Sacred Work to Do?

Have a passion, a cause, a sense of personal fulfillment that is directed both inward toward your soul and outward to the community’s heart!

I think this could be at least a partial summation of what UU means to me (and hopefully means to other UU’s)