The quiet of this afternoon is mostly interrupted by the sounds from wind. Wind blows strongly in eastern Oklahoma today. No particular storm threats; just wind. The sort of day that is lazy enough for fishing in the morning, reading and napping in the mid-day. And that’s pretty much what’s happening here at Three Waters today. I did accomplish the basic chores for the care of chickens, and so far the biggest question was whether to fix the pot-holes in the lane or sit by the water at the cove with my Labrador puppy. We sat for a while. And there was still time to finish patching the holes in the lane.
Patching the holes in the lane wasn’t too hard. A shovel, a wheelbarrow, a supply of gravel, a little activity and sweat; mission accomplished. I wish holes in peoples hearts were that simple. Oft-times with heart-holes it seems that no matter the amount of patching and sweating and crying, it still isn’t fixed. If only we could avoid causing those holes in the first place. If they are so hard to repair, shouldn’t we do everything possible to prevent them?
I watched a documentary on PBS a few nights ago, “Kind Hearted Woman”. The gut-wrenching realities which it portrayed are all too common in our communities. Speaking back against abusers, confronting the powers which enable abusers, and teaching our children about how to avoid and report abusers are all good parts of ending the cycles of abuse. I only got to watch the second half of this two-part PBS special, so maybe what I was missing was mentioned in the first half. I doubt that though, since the latter part of a story is generally where responses and resolutions come to light.
What I’m going after here are the matters of respect and regard. From what I’ve learned of the elders’ teachings of both Lakota and Ojibwe peoples, all life is to be respected in accordance with it’s being sourced by the Creator. A person, an animal, a plant; these all have Life which comes from a single source and thus all lives are intertwined. To extrapolate further, all life as we know it is essentially sustained by dirt, water, and sunlight and thus when these are recognized as gifts that need to be cared for, we respect their presence as part of the Creator’s intertwining sustenance of our being.
All this is consistent with following the Way of Jesus (mentioned here: http://wp.me/p31XId-2f ). One of the names given to the child which Mary bore was “Emmanuel” meaning “God with us”. He himself claimed later that if you saw him you had seen the Father, and one of his key biographers identified him as being an essential presence and developmental force in the creation of all things. Thus it should come as no surprise that in all the available records of Jesus there is no indication that he ever had disdain for anyone, and there is every indication that he always maintained a high degree of respect for persons of all walks of life and both genders. Even when they were people with whom he had profound disagreements. Even when they were scandalous “others” or down right scoundrels. His claims and his calls upon their life and behavior where always conducted with respectful behavior on his part. (Driving cheating merchants out of the temple with a whip being a possible exception, wherein righteous indignation over-rode any chance for nuances of respectful discourse, and wherein respect for the God to be worshiped in that temple dictated his actions.)
But respect and the total avoidance of disdain doesn’t get much press these days. While I know that respect is among the core teachings of the Lakota, it wasn’t even mentioned in the PBS special that chronicled the life of a Lakota woman.
Our schools teach our children that bullying is wrong, identify all sorts of ways that bullying presents, and instruct our children to avoid bullying behaviors, yet the underlying basis of totally respecting another human being simply because they exist, is left out.
Churches or church people claim to “stand up for what is right” and get involved, at least verbally, in political actions and power struggles, but do so with a certain amount of disdain for those who are “different from them”.
I am not immune to functioning in disrespectful ways. It is all too easy to figuratively “thumb my nose” at folks whom I don’t know or of whose position in life I am ignorant. And every time I think and act with disdain I cause hurt. Every time I speak without respect, I run the danger of causing a hole in someone’s heart. For every time that has occurred I say, “I am sorry”. And in the ongoing cycles of life where I choose to stay aligned with Jesus’ attitudes of positive regard and total absence of disdain, I hope to help repair holes in hearts, both in others and in my own.
We need not abandon teaching our children how to avoid abuse. Scoundrels and weaklings are still among us. But if ever we are to stem the recurring tides of abuse and bullying of all types, we must elevate to a primary level the ongoing daily teaching, both in word and in deed, the concept that the Light of Jesus, the mark of the Maker, is present in every single person. Respect the Creator by respecting the persons, animals, plants, and all created things. The apostle Paul wrote to the church at Rome stating that the eternal attributes of the Creator God could be known aboriginally through the created world. We would do well to remember that at all times, and act accordingly in every relationship.