This morning, Mark Nepo reminds me of Lao-Tzu’s wisdom:
I have just three things to teach
simplicity, patience, compassion.
These are your greatest treasures.
Patience with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Fear wants us to act too soon. But patience, hard as it is, helps us to outlast our preconceptions. This is how tired soldiers, all out of ammo, can discover through their inescapable waiting that they have no reason to hurt each other.”
Given enough time, most of our enemies cease to be enemies, because waiting allows us to see ourselves in them.
Richard Rohr, in this morning’s meditation, puts today’s political tensions in similar perspective:
I know the situation in the world can seem dark today. We are seeing theological regression into fundamentalist religions which believe all issues can be resolved by an appeal to authority (hierarchy or Scripture) and so there is no need for an inner life of prayer. In the United States we have seen the rolling back of a compassionate economic system and the abandonment of our biblical responsibility for the poor, the sick, and refugees. Fear and anger seem to rule our politics and our churches. We see these same things in many parts of the world.
The negative forces are very strong, and the development of consciousness and love sometimes feels very weak. But a “Great Turning” is also happening, as believed and described in many ways by such people as Teilhard de Chardin. There is a deep relationship between the inner revolution of prayer and the transformation of social structures and social consciousness.
The Apostle Paul has a marvelous line: “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20). In so many places, there are signs of the Holy Spirit working at all levels of society. The church might well have done its work as leaven because much of this reform, enlightenment, compassion, and healing is now happening outside the bounds of organized religion. Only God gets the credit.
The toothpaste is out of the tube. There are enough people who know the big picture of Jesus’ thrilling and alluring vision of the reign of God that this Great Turning cannot be stopped. There are enough people going on solid inner journeys that it is not merely ideological or theoretical anymore. This is a positive, nonviolent reformation from the inside, from the bottom up. The big questions are being answered at a peaceful and foundational level, with no need to oppose, deny, or reject. I sense the urgency of the Holy Spirit, with over seven billion humans on the planet. There is so much to love and so much suffering to share in and heal.
So how are we to be patient if so much is wrong? By keeping today in perspective of a long view of mankind and by tending to our own “solid inner journeys.” Krista Tippett, also guided by Teilhard, shares in Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living, that he foresaw that the “realm of human intelligence, information, and action…like the Internet…would drive the next stage of evolution–an evolution of spirit and consciousness.”
Tippett makes clear, however, that “Teilhard thought in slow, deep, geologic time, and so must we. A long view of time can replenish our sense of ourselves and the world. We are in the adolescence of our species, not by any measure in full possession of our powers. The twenty-first-century globe resembles the understanding we now have of the teenage brain: dramatically uneven; immensely powerful and creative at times and in places, reckless and destructive in others.”
Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening is an excellent guide book for one’s “solid inner journey.”
Richard Rohr’s daily meditations are solid gold wisdom found at Meditations@cac.org .
I’ve just started Krista Tippett’s book, Becoming Wise, but it looks to be the exact book I need to be reading right now.
My thanks to Ansel Adams for beautifully depicting visually, the massive stable strength that stands behind all of what we know as life. Also, my eternal thanks to Lao-Tsu.