On Good & Evil…

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Current Fundraiser: to help Angelina: https://www.gofundme.com/angiefightslyme

During my university years, I faced the greatest warriors against my faith. I met people who fervently challenged everything I believed in. Their appearances in my life became so frequent that they could not be ignored. I found myself studying my religion, and every other religion I could think of, more than ever before, but this was not how I found the answers to every question I was being asked. I found the answer simply by asking to “find the words I need, when I need them.” Yes. It really is that simple.

And so it has been that way ever since, and I have never been left searching for words.

One day, an acquaintance of mine asked me an interesting question. “How can I walk into a Church if I feel unworthy of it?” I asked her what she meant. “I’m not that good of a person,” she said, “I don’t belong in Church. I wouldn’t be surprised if, the moment I stepped inside, I was engulfed in flames. I’m really not a good person. I mean I’m good-ish. But not really.”

The answer to her conundrum was so simple.

“It is because you believe you are unworthy that you are most welcome. After all, you have mastered a key lesson without even opening the Book: “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12).”

I remembered this brief moment last night. My husband and I were watching the second season of The Good Place. I won’t risk any spoilers here, but the basic premise is the question of how human beings define “good” and “bad.” Who is worthy? Who shall pass to The Good Place and who is destined for The Bad Place? Great comedies make us laugh even when discussing the most heart-wrenching and painful human questions of all. What is the answer?

There is very little that I can say on the matter. I am not a “spiritual teacher”… nobody is. We are all learners in this world. But I do know one thing. We are all loved by our creator, and this creator is rooting for us. We have to do our best, and do it with humility.

But if we cannot be sure of what’s to come, why should we try to be good at all?

The answer is simple, yet again. We may not know what this life is all about. We may not know where we come from or where we’re going. We may not know if God is waiting on the other side. But we all know one truth without a doubt: this life is hard.

George Eliot therefore answered the question for us: “What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for each other?”

While we are here on this Earth, we have one of two choices to make: to act with kindness and grace, knowing that it may sometimes hurt us, or to act with greed and cruelty, knowing that it will absolutely hurt us all.

The real question is: “What do we owe to each other?”

And remember… we design our own luck!

M.

On Hosting…

To help Angelina (see details at end of post): https://www.gofundme.com/angiefightslyme

October is nearly upon us… I don’t know about you, but for me, October tends to be the second busiest month of the year (after December), and it is quite possibly my favourite month of the year. Between apple picking, pumpkin picking, Thanksgiving, and Halloween, the weeks fly by so quickly, we can’t believe summer morphed into frost while we were busy dancing.

October signifies parties to me. Lots and lots of parties. And so this brings up the question of hosting and gathering people together under one roof, typically my roof, to share a good time.

People often ask me: “how do you have the time?” or “how can you make the annual commitment?”

They ask: “why do you invite so and so? We never see them except here!”

My perspective on hosting has been fairly consistent over the years. My philosophy is simple: the door is open and all are welcome.

However, this year, something is a little different. For the first time, I have noticed things that I turned a blind eye to before. The people who I shared the last 5 Thanksgivings with consist of two groups: one that I see regularly, because they call, and another that I only see at Thanksgiving. It never mattered to me before. All were welcome anyway.

What’s different this year?

Whenever people asked me why I insist on inviting strangers and distant acquaintances who never invite me back, I quoted Jesus. After all, He had the right answer: “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, or relatives, or your rich neighbours; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.”

My argument was that what I was doing was not nearly enough. I am not inviting the poor, the crippled, the lame, or the blind… I am inviting acquaintances who never repay me. I do not expect anything in return. Maybe that can bridge the gap between what I do and what God expects of me.

That usually sufficiently answered the question, at least for me.

Until this year. This year, I am being extremely picky with my guest list. What happened?

After some soul searching, I’ve finally come to the answer: I am hurt. How many years have I spent making room in my heart, in my home, and in my life for people who never returned the favour? How many years have I been deeply hurt and shoved the frustration under a rug in an effort to follow in the footsteps of the Greatest Love of all? What has come of it? Of course, this is a very human question. It’s a situation that Jesus would never be confronted with because He wouldn’t be hurt at all. You cannot hurt if you have no expectations. But I am only human.

I have been married nearly a year. Half of the people I celebrated Thanksgiving with for the past 5, some even 10 years, didn’t come by once to visit me to check if I was doing alright, if I needed any help, or to congratulate me. It was a difficult year. None of them picked up the phone. I was lucky if I got a text message. And so, I am hurt.

“What would Jesus do?”

Well… my first instinct is that He would invite everyone anyway. He would forgive and keep the door open. But, something is wrong with that picture. Jesus said: “Do not invite your friends” and urged us to, instead, “invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.”

Jesus would wrap up the party and open an evening soup kitchen. He would serve the most delicious turkey and wine. He would ask His friends to show up to help, and to partake in the feast. He would tell me to stop wasting my efforts on the absent and unavailable, and use the love in my heart to help somebody instead.

What can I do to get a little closer to that goal?

This year, my house will be a little quieter than usual. If I haven’t seen someone in a year, they will not be invited. This is not to be spiteful, nor is it because I’m angry, but rather because I would prefer to make a donation. God teaches us to be kind and loving, but He also reminds us every day that we are also worthy of love. This is not the equivalent of opening my doors to the homeless, I know… but one step at a time.

This year, I will ask my guests to help me raise some money for Angelina, a beautiful young girl who is fighting Lyme disease (with her father). She needs our help. My guests will be asked to place donations instead of bringing a dish to the party. At the time of this writing, Angelina is $4000 CAD short of her goal. If you would like to help me help her, you can find her campaign here: https://www.gofundme.com/angiefightslyme

A happy October awaits, full of light and love for you all.

And remember… we design our own luck!

M.

On Resolving Pain…

My readers know that I am an advocate for making the most of the present moment. I am always writing about the importance of intention and mindfulness when making decisions about how we live, think, speak, and feel. For the most part, I try to live my own life in this way, constantly checking myself in to the present.

The truth is, however, that fully immersing oneself in the present moment does not mean that the past can remain ignored. We are all products of our personal past, and of our ancestral past. Our histories are boundless and they extend well beyond our own life experience. Dissociating from our past can be incredibly dangerous because, one way or another, the pain bubbles back up.

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On Those Who Hurt Us…

When you were deeply hurt by somebody, what were your go-to-words?

“I’m done.”

“I’m fed up.”

“Whatever, I don’t care.”

“What did I expect?”

“I should’ve known better”

“I will never forgive you.”

Whatever the words were, despite the fact that they stemmed from a place of frustration and pain, they also stemmed from a place of love.

It is abundantly difficult to look those who hurt us in the eye and resort to “I love you.” If you have chosen these words above all others in a time of pain, you are one of a kind. Even when time has passed, add ten years to the memory, and most people can’t put two and two together: that pain in your stomach is a result of love, not hatred, anger, or “whatever”.

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