Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Dear Urban Abbey Members and Friends:

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve listened to two of Krista Tippet’s On Being podcasts. There were a couple of thoughts that grabbed my attention that I want to share with you.

The first was from an interview with Elizabeth Alexander called Words that Shimmer. A portion of the conversation centered on the word, Love, and how it can exist along with adversity. One of the questions asked was, “What if the mightiest word is love?” In the context of adversity and the difficulties we all experience in life, I believe love is mighty. Love calls us not just in those happy or romantic occasions; but, love also has a grave side to it. We are called to love in the face of disappointment, grief, and adversity. I know in my own life and family there are disappointments. Love doesn’t preempt that disappointment or grief. Love is the enduring power that helps me to get past that grief. When we say we love on a broader, or National, level, Love calls up deep responsibilities. Love calls us to live with different opinions and values, while not relinquishing our own. Love calls us to listen to others and try to understand where they are coming from. Loving in this way is not an easy task; it demands much of us.

The second was from an interview with Frances Kissling called Listening Beyond Life and Choice. The conversation was around the abortion issue, but what I took from it was related to the thoughts from the interview with Elizabeth Alexander. Frances in one sense also spoke to the deep responsibilities involved in loving others. If we look at polarizing issues like abortion, there is probably no room for common ground with those who have very strong and deep convictions on an issue. But Love calls us to forget (at least for a time) the pressure to come to agreement or common ground, and to listen and try to understand where the other person is coming from. If we can do this, we humanize (rather than demonize) the other person. Listening to the other, even on less polarizing issues, may not change them, but it will change us. I know that in my own life, my views have changed a great deal from those I held as a younger person. That change comes from listening and trying to understand. While I still have many beliefs that I cannot abandon, I can live with those who have differing beliefs or opinions. We can then work to find the common ground, the higher truth that we can both support while retaining our differences.

I invite your thoughts and comments to continue the dialogue. If you’re interested in the specific On Being programs I referenced above, you can find them at http://being.publicradio.org/programs/index.shtml

Shalom and many blessings, George

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