There is so much that needs to be fixed right now, even with a hopeful new administration in Washington. The pandemic is still raging, vaccines seem to be slow to arrive, the economic impact of the virus has been devastating, racial injustice continues to live in our country, and there appears to be a lunatic fringe of a political party threatening our democracy.
It would be tempting to hide in our homes and hope this all goes away by summer. It won’t. But what we can do as we work and wait for change is to try something remarkably simple. We can take more time to hear one another.
I mean this at several levels. Let’s start with the deeply personal. I know I have been guilty of just throwing myself into a meeting without taking the time to “check in” with the participants. I am resolving today to not let a single meeting begin without at least a very brief check-in so we can hear from one another. It might add ten minutes to a meeting, but it would mean the world to some of us who are lonely, hurt and afraid. I hope you will join me in this step, no matter what the meeting. Yes, perhaps even with a mercantile phone call: start by asking the person on the receiving end how they are doing. I have been amazed at what I have heard. One woman at the town office told me her mother had just died last week. I told her how sorry I was and asked for her mother’s name so I could pray for her. She told me her name, cried a bit, and then we went on to do our business.
After we have heard from one another we might consider hearing from those we don’t know, or those who may hold views quite different from our own. Tomorrow night at 6:00 PM, I am holding an organizing call for our Braver Angels Team. Braver Angels is the organization that brings red and blue folks together in facilitated conversations. We tried to engage with this organization before the pandemic and the election but we were unable to. I want to try again. If you are interested email me and I will send you the zoom link to the meeting.
Finally, we need to hear from those in our society who have been silenced for far too long. Immediately following our worship service on February 7 the TUCWomen Anti-Racism Team is presenting Revealing History: How We Got Here, Why It Matters. This will be a multi-media event with images, music and a presentation from the Equal Justice Initiative (founded by Bryan Stevens of the book and film Just Mercy). This program is on the same ZOOM link as our worship service on February 7. Just sign on through SOUNDINGS, enjoy worship and we will go immediately into this program. This program and others in the future are designed to complement and continue our worship services. I hope you will join us.
Part of my spiritual practice is to recite the Buddhist loving kindness meditation. The meditation, which embodies this concentric way of hearing, has three parts. Starting with yourself, you expand it to those you know and love and then to those whom you don’t know and don’t agree with:
May I/you be free from inner and outer harm and danger.
May I/you be safe and protected.
May I/you be free of mental suffering or distress.
May I/you be happy.
May I/you be free of physical pain and suffering.
May I/you be healthy and strong.
May I/you be able to live in this world happily, peacefully, joyfully, with ease.
Try reciting this meditation three times each day; once for yourself, once for those you love, and once for those you don’t agree with, and watch as your world becomes more compassionate.