THE CAPACITY FOR LOVE IN DISAGREEMENT TIMES

Lenten Practice: Centering Prayer
Daily Act: God’s Spirit is a place of unity drawing us together in oneness. Today, intentionally extend love to someone with whom you disagree.
Weekly Prayer Phrase:

I DWELL IN YOU AS THE SOURCE OF ALL LIFE.

by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

One of the blessings and challenges of community in Christ is that you are very likely to encounter someone else with whom you disagree. If everyone you know thinks like you, it might be wise to consider expanding wider the boundaries of your community. The body of Christ is made of many members.

The reality is this: we can hurt each other.

We can wound with words or lack of words, action or lack of action. It can be intentional or unintentional. Resentments build up within us overtime. Trust decays. Whole communities can be diminished because of a single marring moment never fully tended.

This is where our spiritual lives can develop a strength in us that is not hard or uncaring. We can choose to not be personally punctured by every potentially offensive remark (politically or otherwise). I have noticed that sometimes the people with the “thickest skin” also have the softest hearts- wide open to receive the other even when they are not received in return. What capacity for love! I marvel.

I have witnessed some of our own leaders in Community of Christ stand in love as they received a barrage of angry disagreement from a fellow member. I have witnessed the grace they extended, by choosing not to react to those words born of anger and instead to ask questions that would get both parties closer to the heart of the matter.

I believe these are people who have rich prayer lives. From where does the capacity to love so unconditionally come? It comes from the source of love itself, which can be found within each one of us, if we choose to access that deepest space within where God resides. It takes a kind of strength that comes from life in the Spirit to see past whatever disagreement one is in the midst of, to the presence of the divine in the one with whom they disagree.

I want to be clear that I am not talking about being passive or submissive. There are so many complexities to human conflict that I could write all day long and you would probably get tired of reading! I am talking about an honest love that refuses to give in to the sensationalism of the moment and seeks always a deeper understanding of one another where oneness in Christ becomes possible.

The spiritual life is for these times precisely. It is about developing those inner resources that can sustain and guide us in the moments that feel awkward, tense, strained, or where we are tempted to act as not our best selves. These are the moments when we rely on the One we claim to follow. This is the very point of being formed in the pattern of Christ. Who am I called to be when anger flares up within me, when it would be easier to cast aside the person before me as unworthy rather than put forth the effort to see Christ in them too?

There is a space within yourself where all the patience, forgiveness, and love you need for Christ-like relationship is waiting to be discovered. I pray you will dwell there and this is why: on the days when I am not my best self, I yearn for you to see past my angry, clumsy words to the Christ-life also within me.

I think the whole world is yearning for this seeing.

Lent is the season for reconciliation. Consider the wounding you’ve received, the wounding you’ve caused. What is God’s invitation to you in this time of repentance and forgiveness?

EACH ONE: A MYSTERY

Lenten Practice: Centering Prayer
Daily Act: Practice holy listening with another person. Give them the space and time to share what is going on in his or her life. Be lovingly curious toward another life.
Weekly Prayer Phrase:

I DWELL IN YOU AS THE SOURCE OF ALL LIFE.

by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

This morning I want to let the wise Sufi poet Rumi do the talking. All I will say is what has been said so many times before. When you quiet your heart for a moment and peer inside the vastness of your own being, you will stand on the threshold of worlds within! It’s awe evoking enough to see your own internal expanse, but what is even more glorious and soul satisfying is how you begin to see every person you meet as a carrier of the same type of immense spaciousness within their own soul.

Each one: a mystery. Each one: a container of worlds within. So many spaces of beauty left unexplored in one another. This is the pilgrimage I want to take: into the cavernous hearts of others, into a landscape I couldn’t describe if I tried. The goal here isn’t words anyway, but a silent, reverent, attentive listening. What could this world be like if we saw each one in this holy, precious way?

Beyond our ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’
doesn’t make sense any more.
-Rumi

Give us the inner listening
that is a way in itself
and the oldest thirst there is.
-Rumi

There is a way between voice and presence
Where information flows.
In disciplined silence it opens.
With wandering talk it closes.
-Rumi

Friend, we’re traveling together. Throw off
Your tiredness. Let me show you one tiny spot
Of the beauty that can’t be spoken.
-Rumi

Christian, Jew, Muslim, shaman, Zoroastrian, stone, ground, mountain, river, each has a secret way of being with the mystery, unique and not to be judged.
-Rumi

Try to see a treasure in everyone.
-Rumi

They say there is a doorway from heart to heart, but what is the use of a door when there are no walls?
-Rumi

Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder.
Help someone’s soul heal.
Walk out of your house like a shepherd.
-Rumi

Love calls- everywhere and always.
-Rumi

Not Passivity

Lenten Practice: Centering Prayer
Daily Act: Practice deep breathing throughout your day. Whenever an emotion is triggered that would cause you to be anxious, stressed, or angry, take as many deep breaths as needed to rest in God’s presence. Allow your responses to flow from this presence.
Weekly Prayer Phrase:

I dwell in you as the source of all life.

“Contemplation is a very dangerous activity. It not only brings us face to face with God. It brings us, as well, face to face with the world, face to face with the self. And then, of course, something must be done.” –Joan Chittister

By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

This isn’t about passivity
The spiritual life is
Not a practice in being
Overly nice while
Injustice persists surrounding

It isn’t about fleeing
To a warm, safe space
Secluded from the
Wild dangers
Of the real world

That seems important to say
At the beginning

It is about living from
That space deeper

It is about making
Whatever adjustments are required
In each moment
A response is provoked
That would honor the
God-life in the
Center of our beings
Yearning to come to expression
For the sake of shalom made real

If you would but dare
To suspend your own preferences
And opinions
And enter the deepest inward space
Where the God of wisdom
And justice resides
You will discover
The same source of
Courage
Vision
Compassion
As Isaiah
Hosea
Micah

If you will live
From this space
As the source of all action
It will lead you
Right into the real
This beautiful, wild world
That you are called to love
And transform
In holy ways