What's beyond conflict?
When I'm talking with a person in conflict, I'm often struck by how one person in a conflict is desperately pleading with another to take a new perspective. "Look at it like this," they might say. And the person they are pleading with stays cold, also wanting to be seen and heard. If only YOU could get a new perspective, they say.
It seems that the whole world has gotten into an addiction to conflict. New perspectives are forced upon us by older or younger generations. The Covid pandemic brought fears and restrictions that many people turned into another reason to become more entrenched in polarizing views. Bereavements of all kinds have caused an uptick in rage and anxiety.
When I was a tiny person, I got so sick of the constant bickering with my older brother that one day I brought forth the most powerful words I could muster. The two of us were walking home from church and as we passed by Carpenter Pond I cried out a line from a hymn we had sung: "The Strife is O're!" He responded by doubling over in peels of laughter, so ridiculous was that grandiose language coming from my little girl's throat. (With 40+ years of hindsight, it's pretty funny to me, too.)
I felt an ugly powerlessness.
Right now, we are all yearning for that sense of solidarity. We wish for the old-fashioned barn-raisings, for coming together with friends and neighbors, for aggressions to cease.
Sometimes, the thing to do is to spend more time in wonder and awe. Astronauts speak of what happens when they see the earth from space for the first time. I remember when my dad had me listen to a strange sound that got him so excited. To me, it sounded like whales conversing in the ocean. He told me it was the sound of gravity as a black hole bent the space-time continuum. I was struck dumb.
That kind of powerlessness is beautiful.
When Copernicus discovered that the earth is not the center of the Universe. When we look at Hubble images that are beyond a work of art. When we are enthralled by the real, rich worlds contained within a single drop of water.
That's when a seismic shift happens. The pettiness of our insults is put in its place, and we are so overwhelmed by the sheer size and wonder and grandeur of all created things that we can laugh at ourselves. And do the next right thing out of gratitude and joy. Maybe even apologize.
My beloved ones, in all the events of your particular day, I wish you a perspective that will expand your world. I wish for you that one moment that will serve to turn all your conflicts into hope. I wish for you an entering into awe so that your striving can and will give way to what is flourishing, expansive, to what is good and true.
What moment of wonder might happen in your life today?
With great love,