“I think spirituality is also about the reconciliation of opposites. It’s about diving deep inside yourself beyond the polarities to a place of unity where everything holds together. … It’s very holistic. … When you operate out of the wounded places within yourself, places that are not your truest, the extremes seem irreconcilable. Life is too deep for cynicism or polarization. It just is. Compassion enables you to transcend these polarities at a place within yourself where you stand for the dignity of every human life.” — Sister Helen Prejean, IN SWEET COMPANY: CONVERSATIONS WITH EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN ABOUT LIVING A SPIRITUAL LIFE
In a world where the waters are often choppy and the sky is dark 50% of the time, where so much is beyond our control, it’s often difficult to feel as if we have the power to steer the little boats of our lives with any degree of self-governance. It’s hard enough to manage the things we can control — remembering where we put our car keys, mustering the self-discipline to ignore a craving for potato chips and a Coke, deciding what movie we want to rent. And so on and so forth. Sometimes, we actually get to decide things — a marriage partner, a job, a move. Most times things happen to us and our task is to decide how we respond to them.
Though it’s one of the hardest things we do, and often seems beyond our control, choosing how we use our words is still within our scope of influence. Not just being clever or effective, but being kind. Even, and especially, in the face of conflict and dissent.
This issue seems to come up for me around this time of year, particularly since kindness is one of my core values. The words, “Forgive them for they know not what they do,” become personal as I labor to let go of anothers’ harsh words, to not take an unkindness directed at me personally. (I have 42 planets in Pisces! I think this is one of my life lessons!) I manage to see, early on, the pain beneath the others’ rant, as well as my own contribution to the drama. Putting myself back together in the wake of unkindness takes me longer to do.
Today, after another “Easter gift” presented itself, I sought out a lovely book I have about Saint Therese of Lisieux to gain inspiration from her life. I opened the book randomly, I thought, to the bookmark slid between its tattered pages. Albert Einstein, also a Pisces, stares back at me. Beneath his photo is a quote that says, “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” I laughed!
I turn the bookmark over and read, “Einstein’s reverence for all creation, his belief in the grandeur, beauty and sublimity of the universe ( the primary source of the inspiration in his science) his awe for the scheme that is manifested in the material universe — all these things show through his work and philosophy.”
These words, their inherent kindness, comforted me. This is where the power to steer my little boat comes from. It is always my Easter prayer.