Daily Riches: A World Without Mirrors … Or Gravity (Rebecca Solnit, Isak Dinesen, St. Benedict, Søren Kierkegaard)

“To be a person is to have a story to tell.” Isak Dinesen

“Listen and attend with the ear of your heart.” St. Benedict

“I finally became completely silent. I started to listen–which is even further removed from speaking.” Søren Kierkegaard

“I have often run across men (and rarely, but not never, women) who have become so powerful in their lives that there is no one to tell them when they are cruel, wrong, foolish, absurd, repugnant. In the end there is no one else in their world, because when you are not willing to hear how others feel, what others need, when you do not care, you are not willing to acknowledge others’ existence. That’s how it’s lonely at the top. It is as if these petty tyrants live in a world without honest mirrors, without others, without gravity, and they are buffered from the consequences of their failures. …Equality keeps us honest. Our peers tell us who we are and how we are doing, providing that service in personal life that a free press does in a functioning society. Inequality creates liars and delusion. The powerless need to dissemble—that’s how slaves, servants, and women got the reputation of being liars—and the powerful grow stupid on the lies they require from their subordinates and on the lack of need to know about others who are nobody, who don’t count, who’ve been silenced or trained to please. This is why I always pair privilege with obliviousness; obliviousness is privilege’s form of deprivation. When you don’t hear others, you don’t imagine them, they become unreal, and you are left in the wasteland of a world with only yourself in it, and that surely makes you starving, though you know not for what, if you have ceased to imagine others exist in any true deep way that matters.” Rebecca Solnit

“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says
is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and,
after looking at himself, goes away
and immediately forgets what he looks like.”
James 1:23,24

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is it important to you to hear “how others feel?”
  • Are you approachable enough–safe enough–that others will tell you the truth?
  • “The ability to really listen and pay attention to people was at the very heart of Jesus’ mission….” (Pete Scazzero) Are you developing that ability?

Abba, help me learn to quiet myself and really hear others.

For More: Listening Is an Act of Love by Dave Isay

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. I appreciate it! – Bill

Daily Riches: Seeing Your Enemy as a Human In Distress (Susan Edmiston, Leonard Scheff, Thich Nhat Hanh and Cynthia Bourgeault)

“Action taken when I am angry is going to be irrational and probably stupid.” Susan Edmiston, and Leonard Scheff

“In dealing with the emotion that arises when we are attacked, it’s necessary to first allow space for the other person’s anger without reacting. …Deliberately, do not take revenge. In Buddhism, the basic vow is benefiting all beings, not everyone except this particular person. …Your most powerful tool in some situations may be what Thich Nhat Hanh calls ‘compassionate listening.’ ‘Sit quietly and listen with only one purpose: to allow the other person to express himself and find relief from his suffering.’ …When you no longer view the person who directs anger against you as an adversary but as another human being in distress, you have made a good outcome more likely.” Edmiston/Scheff

“Life provides plenty of opportunities for this practice [surrendering to the divine life that lives in us and wants to bubble up in us]; in fact, sometimes it seems as if life is comprised of a ‘twenty-four/seven’ surrender immersion! The problem is, most of the time we’re not aware of it and ‘fall asleep,’ as it’s called in wisdom work: when we brace and tighten and get thrown back into that smaller self. We go unconscious automatically. But if you stay alert and grounded in sensation and are willing to wake up as soon as you realized you’ve started bracing or clinging, then you can use all the adventures and misadventures life throws at you to strengthen and deepen your heart connection—and your Christ connection.” Cynthia Bourgeault

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this:
Everyone should be quick to listen,
slow to speak and slow to become angry,
because human anger does not produce
the righteousness that God desires.”
James 1:19-20

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you “allow space for the other person’s anger” before responding? Do you?
  • How often to you think you succeed at “compassionate listening?” Where could you practice that (at work, with your kids, in your marriage, on social media)?
  • Try to be sensitive to what your body is telling you. Next time you start simmering, stressing or clenching up, let that remind you to recollect your better self. Don’t fight your anger or beat yourself up, just take a deep breath and surrender to the One who lives in you and wants to live through you–and try to learn that as an habitual response.

Abba, remind me often that I’m not to love everyone–except “this particular person.”

For More: The Cow in the Parking Lot by Susan Edmiston and Leonard Scheff

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow/share my blog. Thanks for your interest! – Bill

Daily Riches: The Rare Gift of Attention/ A Love Without Strings (Belden Lane, Simone Weil, Alan Jones and Edward Abbey)

“Attention consists of suspending our thought, leaving it detached, empty …ready to receive in its naked truth the object that is to penetrate it.'” Simone Weil

“To love someone is to grant him or her the gift of one’s pure and undivided attention, without preconceived expectations of what the other person needs, what we imagine to be best in the situation, what particular results we want to engineer. This is a love finally purged of the ego’s calculating desires, a love without strings. It contemplates other people with the same wonder it has found in contemplating God. The choice is simple, as Alan Jones contends: ‘We either contemplate or we exploit. We either see things and persons with reverence and awe, and therefore threat them as genuinely other than ourselves; or we appropriate them, and manipulate them for our own purposes.’ Love as distributed attentiveness is the only form that justice can take in a world of people aching for attention. Contemplative prayer must be fulfilled in the loving contemplation of one’s neighbor. …Simone Weil learned this from her experience with oppressed factory workers in Paris, with poor miners and vine-workers in southern France. ‘Those who are unhappy,’ she said, ‘have no need for anything in this world but people capable of giving them their attention. The capacity to give one’s attention to a sufferer is a very rare and difficult thing; it is almost a miracle; it is a miracle.’ Remaining indifferent to every predetermined program for ‘helping the poor’ and, instead, being altogether present to the person before us–this is the desert practice of love as justice. ‘It is the recognition that the sufferer exists, not only as a unit in a collection, or a specimen from the social category labeled ‘unfortunate,’ but as a man, exactly like us.’ [S. Weil]” Belden Lane

“All things excellent, are as difficult as they are rare.” Edward Abbey

“Jesus looked at him and loved him.”
Mark 10:21

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you grant someone your “pure and undivided attention?”
  • Can you approach someone who is “other” to you, and “contemplate” them, as you would contemplate God?
  • Can you see an immigrant, a homeless woman, an addict, a convict–not as a “specimen from the social category”, but as a person of value, like you?

Abba, I want to love without strings. I want to grant the miraculous gift of attention to others. Help me!

For More: Waiting for God by Simone Weil

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to regularly share something of unique value with you in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest! – Bill