Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Hope...a dangerous thing

This coming month, Trinity begins a new ministry for adult formation. Small groups will be invited to gather and discuss/view/read either a movie or a book. October's movie selection is "the Shawshank Redemption."

There is one scene, among many that I find moving, that stands out for me today in light of the current struggle this parish faces.

When Tim Robbins' character gets out of solitary confinement, just about midway through the picture for a singular act of defiance against the authority of the oppressive warden, he meets his buddies in the chow hall...And receives a [muted] hero's welcome.

At that point, he talks about how important it is to hold on to the little pieces of the self that this prison life seeks to shave off and away from each person's identity as a free man. "Easiest time I ever done," he says of his time in solitary, "I had Mozart to keep me company." He will not surrender one thing....Hope.

"Hope," says his friend, the character played by Morgan Freeman, "is a dangerous thing. It will drive you mad." Paraphrasing him...Best to just give up.

Hope, though, is the one thing we have, counters Tim Robbins, that keeps us from forgetting that there is something out there in life beyond stone and steel.

Hope. It is no easy thing to give...No simple thing to inspire in a community. Yet, that is exactly what Trinity needs to lay claim to as it grapples with deficits and transitions. We can't allow ourselves to beat hope out of us. We have to be honest about how we came to be in this place...But that is simply the way to discern the path forward. If I am standing on the edge of a precipice, and I tell myself that the way forward is straight and level; then I am in for a big, disappointing surprise.

What inspired me about the vestry meeting last night is that it was the first time the vestry slowed down long enough, in my experience of it so far, to really see and feel the tenor of where we stand. Time to embrace our true story and begin to live into and through it.

This is where aikido comes into play. Haven't talked too much about it, if at all, in this blog, but thinking on last night's meeting and this Sunday's parish gathering has me on it again.

Having someone do a technique to you can be quite alarming...esp. If it comes on "full gas." Real, unfiltered aikido can be terrible to watch and devastating to experience. Still, there are ways to deal with it...learn to fall, to absorb, to welcome. When someone throws you, go along for the ride, literally. When someone locks your wrist down, move into the technique and let it go. In other words, don't try to be anywhere else than where you are at THAT MOMENT. Not an easy lesson to learn. When faced with an unpleasant situation, human beings try to move through it as quickly as possible...Or we try to pull back and out. Either way, we cheat ourselves. We cheat ourselves of the experience of being whole in the moment, and we cheat ourselves out of learning from the circumstances that brought us to this point. In aikido, to resist or rush means to get hurt. Really hurt. Damaged. Maybe life experience is not so different?

Coming to terms with the truth of who we are, embracing that and welcoming it will mean that we can deal with what is happening in the here and now. No judgment. No recriminations.

Just acceptance, and perhaps, reconciliation.

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