Saturday, June 30, 2007

stumbling blocks

The longer I stay in community, the more I learn... about why people come here and why they leave. It's a process. as they say, and having experienced much of it, and watched others do the same, I can attest to the simple truth that everyone's journey hits the same kind of stumbling block, no matter who they were before they arrived, or who they think they are when they leave (or stay.)

I'm also pretty sure I (myself) have not hit the huge ones yet. But I have definitely had my fair share of stumbling over the medium-to-large ones. I weathered the "sister-so-and-so-is-always-riding-my-case" scenario, but I have seen others crack under that burden. And... having weathered it once, does not necessarily mean I can do it again. That's the problem. As soon as I think I've got an issue nailed, it springs back to bite me.

There are other rocks along the path. There's the internal: "I'm-a big-fraud-and-if-you-only-knew-you-would-hate-my-guts" rendition, a slight twist on the standard human condition of I'm not worthy. Of course we aren't worthy, we aren't God, get over it. Yet we are worthy, because God said so, and all other scriptural references to the contrary, I choose to believe that over all the other whiny Psalm verses: the ones that cry out for vindication and retaliation for assumed injustices and iniquities.

There's the flip side of I'm not worthy. It's the "why-can't-she-act-like-I-do?" or "why-does-she-insist-on doing-things-her-way?" which implies that not only am I worthy, but even more worthy, so you should follow my example... because of course it's the right way to do it. Whatever it is.

That last one can be a catch 22. In a community there are established ways of doing things, whether because it makes it easier for everyone else or because we've always done it that way... (the ever-constant rock-in-your-shoe.) If stacking the baking pans in order of size is an established way of doing it, then refusing to do it because she happens to think it's a stupid rule, says something very telling about a sister's willingness to "learn our ways", something a candidate promises when she is received.

I have learned one quite unusual lesson in this community: sweating the small stuff seems to be a necessary evil that allows the grace for the large stuff to flow through us like... well, grace. Who knew?

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