“Remember to be gentle with yourself and others. We are all children of chance and none can say why some fields will blossom while others lay brown beneath the August sun.”
~ Kent Nerburn
This morning I woke to the quiet patter of rain outside the window. It is such a comforting sound, isn’t it? There is the implication that things are being washed clean while at the same time nurtured with the moisture needed for survival. The very sound of the raindrops falling on roof shingles and sidewalks, on deck chairs and the orange cloth of the patio umbrella created a varied music that held the morning’s opening hours. I found myself breathing easier, resting into the day’s beginning. It was a good way to start a Monday.
Checking some of the email that had arrived in my box, I saw this quote of Kent Nerburn creating the banner on a webpage I automatically receive. I have to say I found its presence on this particular website surprising and also heartening. “Remember to be gentle with yourself and others. We are all children of chance and none can say why some fields will blossom while others lay brown beneath the August sun.” This Minnesota author’s writings are filled with both insight and big questions and have room for readers to roll around in. They are a blessing that also can challenge.
It seems to me we are in some days that require gentleness. As the roller coaster of life goes these days and weeks seem to be fuller than usual with the pain and tragedy humans can inflict on one another. Those of us who struggle with this, who try to make sense of it, can do with being gentle with ourselves and our thoughts about what we see happening. Watching the situation unfold in Ferguson, Missouri, seeing the racism and power structures we have created that seem to favor some over others, can send a person into despair. Holding that in one hand and all the on-going turmoil that seems to never be resolved in places like Iraq, Palestine, Israel, Syria and so many other countries in the other hand makes for a some heavy lifting. And then there are the people of Africa and the Ebola outbreak. And the children now housed in shelters in Texas sent like young nomads into a country they had only dreamed about by desperate parents. What is a sensible person to do with all this?
Last week I was grappling with sorting out these big life situations and I thought to myself, “What I need is some Anne Lamott.” Her funny, irreverent yet wise writings never fail to inspire, uplift and often make me laugh out loud. I picked up her book Traveling Mercies and read the chapter by the same name. In it she was describing a similar time in her life when it seemed to her the world was falling apart. She relates a story of someone who worked for the Dalai Lama who said that these faithful who follow in his footsteps believe that when a lot of things start going wrong all at once, the purpose is to protect something amazing and large that is trying to be born. This birth needs us to be distracted so that the birth can happen as perfectly as possible. Well, ok then.
I’ve been walking around with this notion for over a week now. I want to believe it. I want to continue to pray over these things happening in the world and in the lives of real people while knowing that something big and invisible to me is trying to be born. Some moments are more successful than others. But because I do have that deep place within that believes that the Holy is always moving and bringing new things to birth, I am mostly being converted. And sometimes mostly converted is enough.
That and being gentle with oneself and others. As we each go about this day with chance and distractions as our companions, may we blossom in ways that bring peace and kindness to the little sphere of world we travel. And may our prayers be flung far and wide for those who lay brown and without life or hope in the August sun. And if something truly is trying to be born, may we be skilled midwives at this birthing.