Monday, September 5, 2016

dance me to the end of love...

It would appear that every culture - and spirituality - has an honored place for wandering within it. It is most likely a minority report, to be sure, but it is real. While listening to Krista Tippett's interview with the "wandering poet" Naomi Shihab Nye yesterday, Ms. Nye spoke of a girl from Yokohama, Japan who wrote saying:

... here in Japan, we have a concept called ‘yutori.’” And it is spaciousness. It’s a kind of living with spaciousness. For example, it’s leaving early enough to get somewhere so that you know you’re going to arrive early, so when you get there, you have time to look around. Or — and then she gave all these different definitions of what yutori was to her. But one of them was — and after you read a poem just knowing you can hold it, you can be in that space of the poem. And it can hold you in its space. And you don’t have to explain it. You don’t have to paraphrase it. You just hold it, and it allows you to see differently. And I just love that. I mean, I think that’s what I’ve been trying to say all these years.

You don't have to explain it - you just hold it - and it allows you to see differently. Like the poet Naomi, I just love that, too. Such is certainly the space I find myself in - or at least wandering towards - most days. I am too anxious by nature to be there naturally. I have equally been too conditioned by striving for success in the eyes of the Western Christian congregations I have served. Everyone, I suspect, has their own roadblocks, yes? So rather than give in to shame or resentment, let me note that incrementally I see how the wisdom of wandering in the wilderness has grown within me. It informs the way I preach and teach. It guides my pastoral care. It shapes the way I evaluate each day. Did I show up fully or almost fully awake? Did I spend time in the spaciousness of my time - even if I don't understand it? Did I listen? And it takes practice: quiet, regular, tender practice.

My contemplative tradition teaches that the focus of deep living involves taking a long, loving look at what is real. This isn't automatic. This renders quick or harsh judgments irrelevant and cruel. This honors both the grace I need every day while helping me share some of it with others.  Leonard Cohen has a song covered by Madeleine Peyroux, "Dance Me to the End of Love," that evokes all of this - and more.  

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