Thursday, September 01, 2005

A Whole New Culture

Still adjusting to the new culture… The Sisters at Melrose dance to a different rhythm than in the city. I think I'll come to love it eventually, but now it is just alien. I sleep fitfully: new house noises, new plumbing, new outdoor sounds. For several years I have awakened to the sound of simulated waves (when you can't afford an oceanfront condo, you make do.) But here the outdoor sounds are authentic: rain dripping from the eaves, birds calling their morning greetings. I end up turning off the alarm before it ever sounds.

I'm finding the Bible study more authentic as well. We do a form of African Bible Study where the selected passage is read three times, each a completely different translation. After the first reading we go around the circle and each Sister repeats a word or phrase that jumped out. It definitely keeps you listening… you can't space out during the first reading. The second round goes deeper. It's the same story but the words have changed. Sometimes the emphasis shifts a little, sometimes a lot. We go deeper too, offering whatever insights we gained from hearing the story again. Insights vary from Sister to Sister, based on her past experience and what she might be dealing with internally. The final round is the clincher. The question to answer after the third reading is: What is God calling you to do? At this point any Sister could spout platitudes…… "I think God is calling me to be more tolerant of my Sisters…" but I've not heard that happen. By the third reading, we're in a pretty real place with the story, and our answers reflect that. Sometimes I know immediately what God wants from me; sometimes I haven't a clue.

Yesterday's insight was "Wait (translate: hold out) for more information before you judge." What, ME jump to conclusions? In a New York minute I'm sorry to say. Yet that insight was confirmed a few hours later in a way I'll never forget. Pray I'll never forget. Additional information came to me regarding a situation I'm involved with. It (the information) was unsolicited and unexpected and it turned all my preconceived judgments upside down.

How often does this happen to us? Not often enough to make a difference obviously. But the man who cuts you off in traffic may have just buried his wife. He is actually distraught and careless; we assume he is a total jerk. The cashier who snaps at us in the grocery line may be facing breast cancer. We think she should be reported to the management for her lack of customer service. It's a whole new culture to consciously and mindfully give each other the benefit of the doubt. It takes practice. I'll keep working at it because I think I'll come to love it.

1 comment:

becky said...

Some in 12 Step Programs call it "yielding the right of way."