"May there be kindness in your gaze,
when you look within..."
- J. O'Donohue
Sometimes the joy in revisiting an old post (thanks L. for bringing it to my attention) is that I have the opportunity to include a link to a musical performance that wasn't available at the time of the original posting. Such is the case with this piece from June of 2008. Not only to I get to share with you a rare video of Johnsmith singing his beautiful song "Kickin' this stone.." at the Beltany Stone Circle in Ireland, but I get to revisit a subject that is so dear to me...self-compassion.
"Kickin' this stone I love church…especially the Wednesday evening tradition of my own faith. I am never too inspired, too peaceful, too sure of my own spiritual ground to not have it bless me in unexpected ways.
Jesus said that we must love others, as we would have them love us. But how would we "love us?' Do we really show ourselves the kind of compassion and mercy we would like to be known for showing others? If we would learn how to love others, we must start with ourselves. We must foster a deep and abiding understanding of the feeling of being loved, forgiven, and restored...within ourselves, if we would know the depth of its value to others...and devote our lives to giving it.
For many years, I thought my failings were just that...failings. I am starting to see that I have been given a post-graduate course (and by the way, the hardest and most rigorous course I've ever taken) on the value of mercy, the achingly beautiful power of forgiveness, and the knee-buckling sweetness of redemption's kiss. Here is the post from 2008. May you love your own innocence with as much tenderness, as you show others...
"Kickin' this stone..."
kickin' this stone…
kickin' these blues out into the open light
where moss can't grow…
…Kickin' this stone
down this long highway
all across the countless miles
from the cradle to the grave
past all my mistakes
with all their guilt and shame
through the gentle rain of tears
sweet forgiveness came…"
I have learned that if I leave all my costumes, roles and titles out on the sidewalk, and just enter the door with a hungry heart…I leave fed.
Last night was no exception…and the blessing was so surprisingly BIG. The inspirational readings were on "opinion." Our little group meets in a storefront on a wonderful walking neighborhood street full of shops and restaurants and coffeehouses. So we place a sandwich board out on the sidewalk. It lists the theme of our meeting and invites everyone to feel welcome. When my husband saw the sign last night, he initially thought it said that the meeting was going to be about "onions"…thank goodness he was wrong.
The readings were strong and compassionate. The impotence (vs. importance) of opinions rang through every citation. I could easily nod my head in agreement. Mary Baker Eddy says, "…mere opinion is valueless." I concur. But as much as I agreed with where the readings and hymns took us, I felt like crying…church often does this to me.
It was so easy for me to see that this spiritual promise, regarding the valueless-ness of opinion, is true. I can readily accept that any mere opinion about someone, or something, is absolutely valueless to me, as a spiritual thinker. So why was this message stirring up so much sadness in me?
As I probed around in the darkness while sitting quietly in our small congregational circle, I came upon the stone that was gathering moss in my heart. It wasn't my opinion of others - or others' opinions about me - that made me heartsick. It was my opinions about myself. I realized that I was entertaining opinions about my own mistakes and choices that left me filled with regret and remorse.
I sat there, wondering if those feelings would ever abate, when I heard a young college professor and research scientist begin to speak about a recent healing he'd experienced. I heard him say, "people often think that science is about proving something. But, science is really all about disproving a hypothesis…and it only takes disproving it once to prove that it is not scientifically true."
He went on to explain that if something is scientifically true, it must be true EVERY time. So if it can be disproved even once, it is not really true.
This sent a shockwave through the dark places of self-doubt I had been wandering around, and resting, in. I was wallowing in a space where I was sure I could possibly be trapped forever. I figured I could easily spend the rest of my life trying to prove that the bad opinions I held, about myself, were not true. That I would have to prove in hundreds of thousands of different ways, that I was not a bad mother, a negligent sister, a forgetful friend, a less than perfect wife.
But I suddenly saw that each time I was able to be a good mother, an attentive sister, an alert friend, a compassionate neighbor, a good wife, I disproved those false opinions I had harbored in the dark regions of my heart, kicked around over and over again, and often stubbed my toe on.
Instead, I could kick them into the light of day, and let them become good and precious stones…cleansed by tears, bleached by the sun, strong and ready to use for building a better view of myself...a foundation strong and sure. A home I might even want to share with others.
It only takes one act of kindness, fidelity, attentiveness, patience, humility to disprove the validity of false opinions about ourselves...and others. It's good to be a scientist. To be Christian...kind, merciful, honest, loving, compassionate...in my practice of this Science - even with myself - is heavenly.
You can see why I love church…
"Kickin' this stone
I love church…especially the Wednesday evening tradition of my own faith. I am never too inspired, too peaceful, too sure of my own spiritual ground to not have it bless me in unexpected ways.