Ouch: Further Reflection on Daring to Become Dependent

The past couple of weeks have been very busy for me. It seems like just about every evening there are two or three events that I should attend, usually at the same time. So, I’ve not been going to a lot of things I would have liked to go to. It seems like this is going to continue for at least a couple more weeks.

It has significantly impacted my writing. Some of the events I’ve missed have been writing events, and when I get home, I don’t have the energy to write, especially not the energy to try and write a poem a day, which had been my goal for Lent, and then for Poetry Month.

This evening, I have only one event scheduled, but I expect it to be exhausting.

This morning, a friend posted a daily reflection online that particularly jumped out at me.

Daring to Become Dependent
April 4

When someone gives us a watch but we never wear it, the watch is not really received. When someone offers us an idea but we do not respond to it, that idea is not truly received. When someone introduces us to a friend but we ignore him or her, that friend does not feel well received.

Receiving is an art. It means allowing the other to become part of our lives. It means daring to become dependent on the other. It asks for the inner freedom to say: "Without you I wouldn't be who I am." Receiving with the heart is therefore a gesture of humility and love. So many people have been deeply hurt because their gifts were not well received. Let us be good receivers.

Henri Nouwen

For further reflection...

Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." - John 4: 6 - 10 (NIV)

Your response...

How can you practice the art of receiving today?

At various church events, we often talk about the Guidelines for Mutuality. One of the guidelines is about practicing self-focus.

When we are practicing self-focus and noticing a feeling of fear, anger, or loss, we might want to literally say “ouch” to alert the group to the impact that some words or actions are having on us.

This came to mind as I read the daily reflection. “Ouch”. Most of the people in my family are much better at showing appreciation when they receive a gift. I’m not as good at it as they are. Yet our house is filled with gifts I’ve given and received that have remained unused.

I think of this also in terms of the gifts God gives us. Do we use those gifts? Do we offer ourselves with these gifts as gifts to others? How are our gifts to our communities received?

I think of that as I pray about my meeting at the end of the day, and all I can say is “ouch.”

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Fear of Becoming

I am afraid
of stepping outside
of my comfort zone

I am afraid
of entering
the unknown quadrant
of the Johari window.

I am afraid
of confronting
my unconscious
incompetencies.

I am afraid
of being ashamed
of what I discover
and what I reveal.

I am afraid
of delving deeper
into the unknown
and becoming
unknowable.

Yet this is where
the magic happens
This is where
we become like
the incomprehensible
divine
mystery.

Confessions of a Muslim Episcopalian

In the aftermath of the Trump election, friends of mine were posting online that if a Muslim registry gets set up, they would register as Muslims. Others questioned whether this was a meaningful gesture. Would such registrations be compared against who actually goes to mosque or even has Muslim friends? Instead, they suggested, attend a mosque or at least an inter-faith event. Get to know some Muslims.

With this in mind, together with my own journey of trying to figure out what God wants of me, when a friend of mine who is a Muslim chaplain invited me to the Seventh Annual Shura and In-Service Training for Chaplains and Imams and Other Service Providers to the Muslim Community sponsored by the Association of Muslim Chaplains, I decided to attend the event.

I am not an Imam nor a chaplain, but I am exploring if chaplaincy might be part of my journey. Likewise, I don’t currently provide services to the Muslim community, but that may also be part of my journey.

As I headed to the event, I wondered how I would be received. What it would be like, for me, a white Christian male to attend a Muslim event which would also probably have more people of color than white people?

One of the first breakout session I attended was about Building Diverse Allies in Post-Presidential Election America. It was a great session. One of the things that was talked about was cultural appropriation. Being mindful of this, I am seeking respectful and considerate ways of joining with the struggle of Muslims in describing myself as a Muslim Episcopalian.

Muslim means, one who submits to God. We might use the Arabic word for God, Allah. We might speak of God in terms of the Abrahamic traditions, the God of Abraham. We might speak of God as Creator. While I might have some minor differences in my understanding of who God compared to my Muslim or Jewish brothers and sisters, I do believe we are all worshiping the same God, and that if we take our faith seriously, we are all called to submit to the same God. Likewise, there are probably minor differences in understanding and practices of how we submit to God.

While those who are afraid of Muslims might say, but that’s not what we mean, and talk about Muslims from other countries that might threaten us, I would suggest that this real meaning of Muslim is, in fact, much more threatening to the powers of the world. In submitting to God, we are recognizing a power that is greater than the presidency, than nations, than even consumer product brands. The power of God is frightening to the powers of this world.

So, as I seek to submit to God within the traditions and understandings of the Episcopal Church, I feel it is appropriate to call myself a Muslim Episcopalian. I feel it is appropriate to learn from my brothers and sisters in the Islamic tradition of submitting to Allah. I feel it is appropriate to acknowledge those things that we have in common and celebrate our differences instead of letting those differences separate us or create fear.

There is a lot more to say about the conference, and I hope I’ll have energy to write more later. Until then, I invite my Christian friends to consider in what ways they are, or should be Muslim.

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The Labyrinth and The Rhizome

The labyrinth is fairly simple
though there are many turns
there is only one way forward
and the question is
do we mindfully persevere.

The rhizome is much more complicated
but much more forgiving.
At each step we are faced
with many choices
and every choice
is the right one.

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Infancy

We start off
as infant solipsists.
We are all that exist,
and our sensations.

We sense hunger
and wetness
and if these senses don’t change
we emit another
existential scream.

We perceive an image
we will later call
a face
and as it changes
we feel happiness
we might hear sounds,
or make sounds
in response.

We perceive
another image
which we will later call
a breast.
As it appears to get larger
feel have other sensations
on our lips
in our mouth
our throats, our bellies.

The sense of hunger abates
and sleepiness arrives.

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