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On the Way to a Beloved Community. Happy Birthday Martin Luther King, Jr.

Still moving toward your vision of a ‘Beloved Community.’ Happy Birthday Martin Luther King, Jr.!

When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., shared his vision of a ‘Beloved Community,’ he said, “This will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.” Let’s take a step back and reflect on both what a quantitative change in our lives…something we can count…might look like – AND what form a qualitative change in our souls might take.

We’ll begin with some background on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Information on King referenced in this post comes from www.theKingCenter.org: “The ‘Beloved Community’ is a term first coined in the early days of the 20th century by the philosopher-theologian Josiah Royce, who founded the Fellowship of Reconciliation. However, it was another member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who popularized the term and invested it with a deeper meaning. For Dr. King, the ‘Beloved Community’ was a realistic, achievable goal that could be attained by a critical mass of people committed to and trained in the philosophy and methods of nonviolence.”

“Dr. King’s ‘Beloved Community’ is a global vision, in which all people share in the wealth of the earth. Poverty, hunger, and homelessness are not tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism, discrimination, bigotry and prejudice are replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of being related. International disputes are resolved by peaceful conflict-resolution and reconciliation instead of military power. Love and trust triumphs over fear and hatred. Peace and justice prevails over war and military conflict.”

“It was fifty nine years ago when Dr. King spoke of the ‘Beloved Community’ as the end goal of nonviolent boycotts. In a speech at a victory rally following the announcement of the U.S. Supreme Court decision desegregating the seats on Montgomery’s busses, King said, “The end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the Beloved Community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opponents into friends…It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men”… and I’d add women!

“The core value of the quest for Dr. King’s “Beloved Community” was agape love, which he described as “understanding, redeeming goodwill for all,” an “overflowing love which is purely spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless and creative”…”the love of God operating in the human heart.” Dr. King said that “Agape does not begin by discriminating between worthy and unworthy people…It begins by loving others for their sakes” and “makes no distinction between a friend and enemy; it is directed toward both…Agape is love seeking to preserve and create community.”

Clearly, we haven’t gotten there yet! King identified six Nonviolent Principles that offer us a roadmap or a place to begin this year:

  1. Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people. It is active nonviolent resistance to evil. It is aggressive spiritually, mentally and emotionally.
  2. Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding. The end result of nonviolence is redemption and reconciliation. The purpose of nonviolence is the creation of the ‘Beloved Community.’
  3. Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice NOT people. Nonviolence recognizes that evildoers are also victims and are not evil people.
  4. Nonviolence holds that suffering can educate and transform. Nonviolence accepts suffering without retaliation. Unearned suffering is redemptive and has tremendous educational and transforming possibilities.
  5. Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate. Nonviolence resists violence of the spirit as well as the body. Nonviolent love is spontaneous, unmotivated, unselfish and creative.
  6. Nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice. The nonviolent resister has deep faith that justice will eventually win. Nonviolence believes that God is a God of justice.” (www.theKingCenter.org)

For me, one quantifiable change in my life is easy to count. It’s somewhat counter intuitive, because it involves intentionally choosing to be involved in fewer activities.

Ahh…what about a qualitative change in my soul? It involves intentionally choosing to be present…even when the newly installed dishwasher stops working. Yikes! Principle 5 “resists violence of the spirit as well as the body.” It’s a choice and it starts inside of each of us!

Martin, your wisdom continues to inspire! We’re still moving toward your vision of a ‘Beloved Community.’

Love Your Scars

Love Your Scars

Really? Love your scars? It took years to overcome my own resistance and begin to see the depth of my scars. In my experience, we need to “see” before we are able to “love” our scars. 

Let me begin by saying, “It’s way easier to ignore your scars.” At least that’s how it feels to those of us more comfortable denying rather than acknowledging our feelings. Sometimes something happens that offers you insight and allows you to “see” you possess the courage to look at your scars.

Whether it was that mole removed in eighth grade, dental surgery after you caught that baseball in your mouth, an abdominal scar or a severe burn, as we age, if we’re lucky, we come to realize we heal from the inside out. Those of us who are honest know the process can be excruciatingly painful…and so worth it…

Scar tissue replaces normal skin tissue after our skin is damaged by a cut, burn, or skin infection. It’s as good a metaphor as any. When you’re ready to “face” your scars, you may choose to partner with someone trained to navigate this “inside out” growth terrain. Contact me when you are ready to enter into dialogue and begin seeing in a dramatically different way.

You’ll be amazed at what you are capable of!

 

 

Warning: The demolition of this structure is imminent

What My Appendix Disintegrating Taught Me About Institutionalized Religion

I heard the surgeon said, “When we opened you up, your appendix was disintegrating!” Learn what my appendix disintegrating taught me about institutionalized religion.

I had not planned on spending the final five days of 2015 in a hospital following emergency surgery. Certainly had not anticipated the abscesses that resulted from the disintegration.

I’m grateful! Sure, the process slowed me down, introduced me to some cool people, offered me lots of opportunity to ask for help, and allowed me time to reframe what I want to commit to in 2016. Expect to see weekly blog entries throughout 2016.

I drove by this sign a few weeks ago. It occurs to me the message applies equally to my appendix as well as the building targeted for demolition. The “Warning” of imminent demolition may also apply to some existing structures of institutionalized religion. Like the pain on one’s right side before one’s appendix disintegrates, many of us ignore religious structures and practices we were introduced to as children. We’ve outgrown them. They no longer fit.

I invite you to explore what’s below the surface. Give yourself permission to explore your inner depths. The good news is our wounds, even deep ones, heal in the presence of wisdom and care. Sometimes it takes antibiotics!