Okay…it all started out as just a funny internal dialogue. Let me set the stage for you….
It’s a Friday morning. I’ve studied, prayed, read emails, taken calls…responded to emails and calls with emails, calls, conversation, prayer and treatment…I’ve showered, woken the twins and gotten them up and dressed and fed and out the door with their big brother, (who, as a high school senior, doesn’t need the same level of help with dressing and feeding) and now I am dressed (actually I was dressed all along, only now I am no longer in my pajamas) and back in my “office” for one of my favorite parts of the day….oops, one more thing…
The kettle is boiling, there is a Republic of Tea Decaf Ginger Peach tea bag waiting in my favorite hand-thrown and painted Portuguese pottery mug (white, cobalt blue, pear, and a shade of robin’s egg blue that makes me weak in the knees). When it boils I‘ll pour it over the tea bag, let it steep for a few minutes…and then remove the bag, carefully plop in a small ice cube (I am such a wuss) and return to my desk…
Ahh..now I am ready.
I pull up Safari, go to my bookmarks and pull down the CSdirectory.com listing of all my friend’s blogsite links and anticipate having a nice cup of tea with Kim, Laura, Evan, Colin, Miles, Travis, Emilly, Chris, and occasionally, Carol.
I start with Laura …hmmm…she must be posting late today. So I move on to Kim….hmmm…no Kim. Okay, then I guess it will be just me and Evan to start with.. ahhh, there he is…whew…
But once I finish reading Evan’s posting I was ready for more of my little spiritual blogging community to wake up and be counted at the table. I check every half hour for what seems like days, but is more like two mugs of tea. Then the “devil dialogue” starts in my head, or at least that is where it feels like it’s happening…but I sometimes wonder if it’s in my nose or my earlobe…both of those are close.
“Hmm…”, it suggests, “it’s Friday and they always post on Friday. Perhaps they are on a conference call that you somehow weren’t invited to be a part of (we share many worlds) or they are so busy chatting with eachother on the phone that neither of them has a moment free to post.” These benignly reasonable considerations get me wondering. Then it escalates…gets more and more insistent that I be “concerned” (read "worried") that I’m being left out of something important (how weird is that?). It seizes on this little moment and tries to create a schism in my peace...and on my focus on the spiritual work at hand.
Within moments I’m down a road so bizarre, I later had to chuckle. “Well, maybe they’ve decided to meet for lunch today and are somewhere laughing and giggling and sharing wonderfully inspiring stories…perhaps they are planning to write together.” Now my feelings are hurt. I feel like this dialogue with the devil is reaching the insistent pace of an insidiously rememberable 1970s country-western song by Charlie Daniels, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”:
The devil went down to Georgia, he was looking for a soul to steal.
He was in a bind 'cos he was way behind: he was willin' to make a deal…
Fire on the mount'n, run boys, run.
The devil's in the house of the risin' sun.
Chicken in the bread pin, pickin' out dough.
"Granny, does your dog bite?"
"No, child, no."
In every way the nonsense in my head reaches the same level of “out of control”, headlong feeling of a reeling and careening train heading down a mountain pass at breakneck speed that I imagine when I hear the frenetic fiddling in that song. And the intensity of its ridiculousness not only allows me to find my freedom from it (the way dancers who are twirling out of control eventually fall out of the spin and onto the floor in exhaustion), but more importantly, teaches me a very important lesson.
I decide to play it out just as it ‘s presenting itself. I open an email and type a note to both Kim and Laura asking them where they are…had they met somewhere in the middle (Laura is in New England and Kim lives in the up, up, upper mid-west) and are they, as I am typing, having a yummy lunch on a veranda (another silly thought…it was the middle of January and the country from here to there was covered with an inch of ice)? Are they laughing and sharing inspiring stories? I look at what I had typed, laugh my arm off, and push Send. I even go on to send another follow-up email to them, threatening to write our mutual friend and fellow blogger, Red Fork Hippie Chick, inviting her to come with me, in her VW microbus with the peace sign in the back window, to track them down. I laugh even harder when I send that one.
Now you may think this is all silly and a waste of my time (and yours, now!) but there were a few important lessons for me in this.
First, even though these musings seemed silly and harmless and funny…they had kept me (even if just for a few moments) from thoughts that could have been a blessing. Thoughts that were consistent with the spiritual fact that God is All-in-all.
Second, they were thoughts about someone else, speculating on their life, their plans, their relationships…certainly commonplace but not a blessing…to me, to my family, my friends, or the world.
Third, how many times had I let my thinking wander down this road because of something as benign as misreading a look someone gave me? And all the imagined scenarios of why, who, what I would say to them in response…and on and on. These mental sidetracks deprive me of “the truth” in each situation. And more critically, they deprive me of the freedom to be and do those things which really are mine to think and act on, and could be a blessing to those around me and the world at large.
I am learning that it takes a consecrated commitment to living with humility to not think of myself as so important that my uninvited thoughts or considerations about another person’s life, choices, or motives are valuable…or even reasonable.
Cherish humility, "watch," and "pray without ceasing,"
or you will miss the way of Truth and Love.
Humility is no busybody:
it has no moments for trafficking in other people's business,
no place for envy, no time for idle words, vain amusements,
and all the et cetera of the ways and means of personal sense.
-Mary Baker Eddy
My vote of confidence doesn’t really have any weight in another person’s journey...only God’s does. I trust Him to guide, govern, annoint, appoint, adjust and administer the steps of His children's journeys.
Our thoughts are important. Mine are “where I live” and I want to be living in my own house…not wandering around uninvited in the houses of my friends, or even strangers, speculating about why they put the couch in that corner and what they were thinking when they bought that lamp…rearranging the table and chairs or commenting on the color of the walls...metaphorically. I want to be all about having a clean, neat, orderly, beautiful home of my own….and then invite others in for a party!
Laura and Kim each responded to my silly emails, a sidetrack that I turned into a fun moment with friends. They later posted their blogs…neat, orderly…beautifully warm and welcoming “rooms” in their homes. Rooms full of inspiring ideas to which they had opened the doors and laid out a lovely “feast of Soul” for us as readers to come in and enjoy.
I have been so graced this week by my experience last Friday. I am becoming clearer than ever before that it is not my right, privilege, role, or responsibility to engage or entertain thoughts about others just because “the devil” says, “heyyy…what about that Margaret…did you hear what she did???”
Man, I slap that sucker down quicker than the tiger, Sheer Khan slapped down the slithery, sly snake Kaa when he tried to entrance tired little Mowgli with his hypnotic “Gooo too sleep, go to sleep…close your eyes…go to sleep” suggestions in Disney’s The Jungle Book.
Y’know, I really don’t have time to think about Margaret, Bill, Uncle Rufus, or the guy on the corner except to be grateful that we each have a direct relationship with God and that we are all governed, guided and directed in our thoughts, words and deeds, unconditionally, by this omnipotent, benevolent Love reigning within our hearts.
That said…I would love to have lunch or a teaparty in the garden with Laura and Kim…and Evan…and Red Fork Hippie Chick….soon…oh, the laughter we’d share…they’d hear it in Amarillo….oh yea, and of course…you’d be invited too!
“A grateful heart a garden is
Where there is always room
For every perfect God-like grace
To come to perfect bloom.”