As we moved into considering the "habits" at a deeper level Parker shared the results of the groups input in respect to the habits we were most comfortable with and the habits we were most stretched by... the most people were the most comfortable with "we're all in this together" and the most people were the most uncomfortable with "holding tension in creative, life giving ways". This was no surprise to Parker who then went on to share some his story. He spoke of how he believes that his father provided for him an environment of expectancy - NOT expectations - but expectancy: that he would find his niche, that he would find his way, that he would discover his gift... and so on...
As I rolled this idea over I thought of the power it has in working with inmates: calling forth their best
This got me thinking about where I am at right now... this venture, experiment, new opportunity/challenge... and it feels good. Scary - but good. I believe, or have now come to understand that my decision to begin a conversation that led to the formation of KPC Inc. was rooted in this habit of the heart: a sense of personal voice and agency... a habit that is somewhat less developed than what I name as my dominate habit, "an understanding that we are all in this together".
It has always been scary
to step into the circle of firelight,
to show up in the company of strangers,
to ask for entrance or offer it. Our hearts race –
Will we have the courage to see each other?
Will we have the courage to see the world?
The risks we take in the twenty-first century
are based on risks human beings took
thousands of years ago.
We are not different from our ancestors,
they are still here, coded inside us.
They are. I believe,
Cheering us on.
Christina Baldwin, Caling the Circle
Following lunch we moved into examining our less developed habit - and again Parker shared some of his story - beginning with a poem by May Sarton: The Angels and The Furies
Have you not wounded yourself
And battered those you love
By sudden motions of evil
Black rage in the blood
When the soul premier danseur
Springs towards a murderous fall ?
The furies possess you.
Have you not surprised yourself
Sometimes by sudden motions
Or intimations of goodness
When the soul premier danseur
Could shower blessings
With a graceful turn of the head ?
The angels are there.
The angels, the furies
Are never far away
While we dance, we dance,
Trying to keep a balance,
To be perfectly human
(Not perfect, never perfect,
Never an end to growth and peril),
Able to bless and forgive
This is what is asked of us.
It is the light that matters,
The light of understanding.
Who has ever reached it
Who has not met the furies again and again:
Who has reached it without
Those sudden acts of grace?
I was so moved by these words - there is so much of my life within words - the dance, struggle, desire
Parker spoke of how for him "the only way out was in" - to go deep... for in the deep well if his own soul, the water nourishes him - and offers nourishment for others - but he does it first for himself, for 'I dare not write about it 'til I am ready to say, 'I am all of the above.'"
Another topic on which he spoke was the tendency of the human person to strive for effectiveness and as a result we end up taking on smaller and smaller tasks because those are the ones that can be accomplished... "Effectiveness is not a good norm by which to live your life." And he went on to say, "There is not a sadder way to die than to have not shown up in the world as my true self... and in all cases faithfulness trumps effectiveness!"
I have long said that "we are called to faithfulness NOT perfection" and I really connected with the idea that faithfulness trumps effectiveness - that the measure is, "To the best of my ability, did I bring forth my gifts to share?" "To the best of my ability, did I see need and respond?" As I pondered these questions I connected on a very deep level with these words from Victoria Safford as shared by Parker:
Our mission is to plant ourselves at the gates of hope--not the prudent gates of Optimism, which are somewhat narrower; nor the stalwart, boring gates of Common Sense; nor the strident gates of Self-Righteousness, which creak on shrill and angry hinges (people cannot hear us there; they cannot pass through); nor the cheerful, flimsy garden gate of "Everything Is Gonna Be All Right." But a different, sometimes lonely place, of truth-telling about your own soul first of all and its condition, the place of resistance and defiance, from which you see the world both as it is and as it could be, as it will be; the place from which you glimpse not only struggle but joy in the struggle. And we stand there, beckoning and calling, telling people what we're seeing, asking them what they see.What a vision for the human person! What a vision of Chaplaincy - ones who, at the gates of hope "stand there, beckoning and calling, telling people what we're seeing, asking them what they see" - and maybe - just maybe in our actions of compassion and care for - those with who we work with may come to see the fullness of the human creatureness they are: good, capable of goodness, loved with the potential to love...
We ending with Carrie Newcomer leading us in singing her song, If Not Now. Have a listen! A powerful song that ended a powerful day...
On the Sabbath Road...