Daily Riches: Unclenching Our Hearts (John Lewis, Maria Popova, James Baldwin, David Whyte, and Ann Lamott)

“We’ve got to be as clear-headed about human beings as possible, because we are still each other’s only hope.” James Baldwin

“To forgive is to assume a larger identity than the person who was first hurt.” David Whyte

“How few of us are capable of such largeness when contracted by hurt, when the clench of injustice has tightened our own fists. And yet in the conscious choice to unclench our hearts and our hands is not only the measure of our courage and our strength, not only the wellspring of compassion for others, but the wellspring of compassion for ourselves and the supreme triumph of personhood. ‘As we develop love, appreciation, and forgiveness for others over time,’ Anne Lamott wrote . . . ‘we may accidentally develop those things toward ourselves, too.’ . . . A century after Tolstoy wrote to Gandhi that ‘love is the only way to rescue humanity from all ills’ . . . [Congressman John] Lewis writes: ‘Lean toward the whispers of your own heart, discover the universal truth, and follow its dictates. Release the need to hate, to harbor division, and the enticement of revenge. Release all bitterness. Hold only love, only peace in your heart, knowing that the battle of good to overcome evil is already won. Choose confrontation wisely, but when it is your time don’t be afraid to stand up, speak up, and speak out against injustice. And if you follow your truth down the road to peace and the affirmation of love, if you shine like a beacon for all to see, then the poetry of all the great dreamers and philosophers is yours to manifest in a nation, a world community, and a Beloved Community that is finally at peace with itself.’” Maria Popova

“If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load,
do not leave it there; be sure you help them with it.”
Ex. 23:5 NIV

Moving From Head to Heart

  • A “poetic” (beautiful) response to hate and violence may seem like an impossible dream–perhaps even undesirable. But how hard to argue with the beauty demonstrated by John Lewis–right?
  • Showing compassion to ourselves and others are intrinsically linked. Can you extend the same grace and understanding to others (who offend) that you extend to yourself?
  • John Lewis was a great example of a loving agitator. Should you love better, or speak up more?

God, help me to unclench my heart and my hands towards the world.

For More: Across the Bridge by John Lewis. New York: Hachette, 2012.

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Thanks for reading my blog. Please extend my reach by reposting on your social media platforms. If you like these topics and this approach, you’ll like my book Wisdom From the Margins.

Daily Riches: “American Idealism” (James Baldwin and Stacey Abrams)

“It comes as a great shock to discover the country which is your birthplace and to which you owe your life and your identity has not, in its whole system of reality, evolved any place for you.” James Baldwin

“I don’t know what most white people in this country feel but I can only conclude what they feel from the state of their institutions. I don’t know if white Christians hate Negroes or not, but I know we have a Christian church that is white and a Christian church that is black. I know, as Malcolm X once put it, the most segregated hour in American life is high noon on Sunday. That says a great deal for me about a Christian nation. It means I can’t afford to trust most white Christians, and I certainly cannot trust the Christian church. I don’t know whether the labor unions and their bosses really hate me—that doesn’t matter—but I know I’m not in their union. I don’t know whether the real estate lobby has anything against black people, but I know the real estate lobby is keeping me in the ghetto. I don’t know if the board of education hates black people, but I know the textbooks they give my children to read and the schools we have to go to. Now this is the evidence. You want me to make an act of faith, risking myself, my wife, my woman, my sister, my children on some idealism which you assure me exists in America, which I have never seen.” James Baldwin

“Because we live in a nation that has begun its path to democracy by putting stumbling blocks in our way, we’ve got to start moving those blocks.” Stacey Abrams

“Love one another deeply, from the heart.”
1 Peter 1:22b NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you offended by Baldwin’s critique of church and country?
  • Can you attempt to imagine living his experience? . . . feeling as he does?
  • Do you notice “stumbling blocks” meant for people of color where you live? Do you want them moved out of the way? Think about your answer.

Abba, teach me what it means to love deeply, from the heart. Truly.

For More: James Baldwin on Dick Cavett (1968)

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Thanks for reading my blog. Please extend my reach by reposting on your social media platforms. If you like these topics and this approach, you’ll like my book Wisdom From the Margins.

Daily Riches (CV era): Our Same Fears and Sorrows (Ernest Kurtz, Katherine Ketcham, Jay Feld, and James Baldwin)

“A major hindrance to the experience of community is our difficulty in talking about our pain. We feel afraid; we feel ashamed; we want to maintain a certain image of ourselves, first for ourselves and then for public consumption. It is perfectly understandable–and yet it keeps us isolated and lonely.” Jay Feld

“Human beings connect with each other most healingly, most healthily, not on the basis of common strengths, but in the very reality of their shared weaknesses. . . .  Shared weakness: the shared honesty of mutual vulnerability openly acknowledged. That’s where we connect. At the most fundamental level of our very human-ness, it is our weakness that makes us alike; it is our strengths that make us different. Acknowledging shared weakness thus creates a rooted connectedness, a sense of common beginnings. . . . Spirituality begins with this first insight: We are all imperfect. Such a vision not only invites but requires Tolerance: active appreciation of the richness and variety of human beings on this earth, along with the understanding that we all struggle with the same demons, we all share the same fears and sorrows, we all do the best we can with what we have.” Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, and then you read.” James Baldwin

“I have cried until the tears no longer come;
 my heart is broken.”
Lamentations 2:11 NLT
 

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • If you really tried, could you find a safe relationship to talk about your pain?
  • Do you think your pain is “unprecedented?” . . . that no-one would understand? . . . that your experience is unique?
  • Most of us want two things: to really connect with someone (which requires vulnerability), and to be admired (which requires image management and being guarded). Which instinct wins out in your experience?
  • Shared strength builds walls. Shared weakness builds bridges. Are you building walls or bridges?

Abba, give me the courage to reach out to others in all that I am as a fellow human being: succeeding and failing, admirable and disappointing, believing and fearful.

For More: The Spirituality of Imperfection, by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham

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Daily Riches: Grieving and the Vast Emptiness of Loss (James Baldwin, C. S. Lewis, Richard Rohr, John Green, Henri Nouwen)

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.” James Baldwin

“For in grief nothing ‘stays put.’ One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats.  …how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, ‘I never realized my loss till this moment’? The same leg is cut off time after time.” C. S. Lewis

“‘All great thought springs from a conflict between two eventual insights: (1) The wound which we find at the heart of everything is finally incurable, (2) Yet we are necessarily and still driven to try!’ [Hans Urs von Balthasar] Selah. Our largely unsuccessful efforts of the first half of life are themselves the training ground for all virtue and growth in holiness. This wound at the heart of life shows itself in many ways, but your holding and “suffering” of this tragic wound, your persistent but failed attempts to heal it, and your final surrender to it, will ironically make you into a wise and holy person. It will make you patient, loving, hopeful, expansive, faithful, and compassionate—which is precisely second-half-of-life wisdom.” Richard Rohr

“We all want to do something to mitigate the pain of loss or to turn grief into something positive, to find a silver lining in the clouds. But I believe there is real value in just standing there, being still, being sad.” John Green

“Just as bread needs to be broken in order to be given, so, too, do our lives.”  Henri Nouwen

“… unless a grain of wheat
falls into the earth and dies,
it remains alone; but if it dies,
it bears much fruit.”
Jesus in John 12:24

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Our sense of loss grows over time as we experience a loss “time after time.” Have you suffered like that?
  • Have you quit trying to understand your loss, heal it – or find its “silver lining?” Have you allowed yourself to feel it rather than flee from it?
  • Why might someone “need to be broken” by what feels like “unprecedented” heartbreak? Can you trust God to work in the space created by your loss – with no explanation and slow healing – but bringing life out of death?

Abba, meet me in my losses.

For More:  A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis
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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

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