It’s one mega-umbrella out there.

Posted by on 03.12.10 | 3 Comments
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So here I sit with association. And reflection.

I am proud to be American. And I am embarrassed to be
American.

I am proud to be Christian. And I am embarrassed to be
Christian.

I am proud to be human. And I am embarrassed to be human.

I have ideas about the sorts of associations that I want and
seek; and a disjunct with the associations that I actually have.

The oxymoron of “Christian hate mail” brought this to mind. Someone was talking about having received
“Christian hate mail.” And I knew exactly. Exactly. What they meant.

I think you do too.

You know… the religion is such that there’s a Son of God
written about who, when asked directly about what needed to be done to enter
into heaven stated, “Love the Lord your God with all your Heart, Mind and Soul.
And Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Yup. You missed it, didn’t you? The subtext that says “and write self-righteous
religious based hate mail to anyone who you deem deserves it because they
deviate from your interpretation of the religion you’ve named Christianity. And
make sure that your hate mail includes a lot of damning to hell.”

So of course I worry. I worry about how these sorts of
things reflect on me. I want to be
Christian too. I want it without having all these other Christians out there,
using the same “name”, and that I think are behaving terribly. And
wrongly. And worse, they think that *I*
am likely behaving terribly. And wrongly.

I say “Christian”. It could be “American.” It could be
“human.” Sometimes I’m bursting proud of these associations. Sometimes the
shame runs so deep I don’t want to admit that I have any associations at all.

But here we are.

These families that we join — they sustain us and they fail
us. These families that we are born into — they sustain us and they fail us.

My biggest personal struggle for a good number of years, and
which began well before I recognized it as a struggle, is to make
‘relationship’ the goal of most of my interactions with others. Not only am I introverted, and I am – but
almost all of my interactions were ending up that I would listen to what others
had to say, see what came out of my head and mouth too, and check for the
earliest convenient time to end the interaction. Worse, I was so worried and self-fretting
about the things that I did not have “that I should be working on” - a spouse, children, a thin body, clever
answers, you name it – I do not have it – that I couldn’t wait to be able to
get to my own space so that “I could work on these things about me”; or more
likely – ignore them, but on my own time and in my own privacy.

I’m not sure what ‘clicked’ – but maybe it was when I realized two things: how
serious I was about community, and that every relationship in my whole reality
required my presence. I needed to not just
show up physically; which in fact, is one of the very most single important
things that I believe with my every ounce that we can all do – but I needed to
show up physically and plan to actually be there to relate to others. I can spend my time fretting about not having
children, or I can spend my time noticing the endless number of children all
around me that would love my attention.
I can spend my time wondering if I have any clue how to help someone, or
I can simply make sure I actually find that person and talk about it, and even
better, offer concrete help that I suggest myself. I can attend a neighborhood meeting and talk
about weighty things with a diplomatic tone, or I can attend a neighborhood
meeting and begin to see what it is that we offer each other as neighbors, and
that we truly, truly, teach each other. I can daydream and tune out and look for the
first out, or I can listen and tune in and be the one that gathers.

But to be the one who wants to relate; well…some of the ways
we relate is by association. And I’m learning quick that every association we
have puts us in contact with the beautiful and with the ugly – and yes, that
fully depends on one’s personal point of view.

“Christian hate mail.”

We are so petty.

The umbrellas under which we gather are so large. So large.

Family. Community. Church. Group. Association. Nation. Race.
Beliefs. Education.
We can’t see from one umbrella tip to the handle.

All we can do is see what we share with the person standing
next to us. Both of us trying to stay
dry. We’re quite allowed to be
embarrassed by the others standing under the umbrella. For some, that will be
quite enough reason to go find a different umbrella, or just head out try to
enjoy the rain – the rest of you umbrella people are crazy to stay so
sheltered… And we naturally gravitate to the people under the umbrella that
share our ideas and that we aren’t embarrassed to be with, and that’s shelter
too. Little umbrellas under big ones. That’s good. The big ones seem to always
have some leaks.

But the fact is, that no matter where under the umbrella you
choose to stand (and I mean you, humanity – try to leave THAT umbrella) and how
much effort you make to disassociate with “those” people – you’re standing
closer to the person on the other side of the umbrella than you think.

Here we are. And maybe we’re embarrassed by each other.

Maybe we are proud of each other too.

I’m sure we will jostle for position.

But I’m staying for the work. I’m not walking away.
I’m planning on being present.

And learning how to associate.

timeline

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