I Don’t Know, Maybe it was the Roses

Posted by on 05.11.09 | 4 Comments
Filed Under Uncategorized

Well, I am off to Haiti next Tuesday. I don’t know quite I why am going except that I am part of a cathedral that is seeking to develop an international outreach, and a couple of members have been in Haiti and really, really wanted us to get started there. Then it turned out that the people in the village we are going to really, really wanted to have the priest come, and so, there it is. In other words, in spite of how I opened this post I know exactly why I am going to Haiti, because I agreed to go along with other people’s plans and needs.

I have a bunch of reasons why it is important to go to Haiti, not least of which is that the experience will really change this cathedral if, and as, we embrace it as something we feel called to do. It is also true that I have been in the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and I am a bit curious as to see what the difference is between number one and number two. I think it is considerable. I could even invent a number of other compelling reasons why it is important for me to go, all of which are true, at least more or less, but all of them come after the fact. The truth is I am going not because I want to go, or for any of the other reasons I could develop, but because I feel some need to respond positively to the expressed needs of someone else.

That happens a lot. I do a lot of things – especially at work – not because I decide to do them, not because I discover in myself a genuine desire to try something, but because I am responding to the stated needs of others.

So, is that bad?

Yeah, sometimes it is. Sometimes the need to say “yes” is not at all about a positive heart, a courageous outlook, a willingness to be imaginative and creative, but rather about very nearly the opposite of that. Sometimes saying “yes” is about being frightened, closed in, uncertain of who you are and what you are called to do. Sometimes it is about avoiding the pain of asserting your own identity as a human being, sometimes it is about just accepting the fate of being what others want/need you to be. And yes, we do get rewarded for that kind of failure. We get the response we need from others – approval – which, much as drugs do, becomes addictive and over time takes over.

But sometimes it isn’t bad. Sometimes doing things just because someone else really, really wants/needs us to, moves us out of that fearful place into a new world where we really can see beyond our own need to be needed, or safe, or pain free. Sometimes we are called to recognize that the needs of others, while not more important than our own needs, are as important, and we have an obligation, at least at times, to respond to those needs regardless of whether or not we “want to” or not.

The difference between the two is subtle, but important, for it is the difference between surrendering who we truly are for the sake of someone else and asserting who we truly are for the sake of someone else. So, as always, life is ambiguous, our true motives are often hidden, especially from ourselves, and as a result we don’t quite know for sure who we are or where we are going.

For sure I don’t know about this one, whether it is the former or latter, and so I am left with once again with the music of Jerry Garcia, drug addict, musical genius, my favorite enneatype 9, my mentor and sage: “I don’t know, maybe it was the roses. All I know is I could not leave her there.” (words by Robert Hunter, music by Jerry Garcia)

I will post again when I get back and let you know what happened.




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