Soft and Supple

Acceptance is the key to life. Those who cannot change cannot survive. Those who can wear masks and get vaccinated are likely to flourish in our new environment. As I sat watching a basketball game at St. Bonaventure University’s Reilly Center I was surrounded by people. Young and old alike. Some wore masks as requested by the university to keep us all safe while others were wearing chin straps or at least that’s what they looked like. Last week parents in Franklinville had an impromptu protest in front of the school that was anti-mask.

Everyday we read the news of angry folks decrying mask and vaccine requests and mandates. We read too of those whose inflexible reaction has cost them their health and in some cases their lives. Wearing a mask is annoying especially when one has hearing aids and glasses too. I’ve been contemplating a response and today I’m reminded of the wisdom of the Tao that was written twenty-five-hundred years ago.

The living are soft and supple;the dead are rigid and stiff.In life, plants are flexible and tender;in death, they are brittle and dry.Stiffness is thus a companion of death;flexibility a companion of life.An army that cannot yield will be defeated.A tree that cannot bend will crack in the wind.The hard and stiff will be broken.The soft and supple will prevail.

Chapter 76 Tao te Ching

There is a middle way

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a wonderful book about a subject that I know very little about. Now, having read the book I know a bit more. It’s every parents wish that their child have a happy life and being gender non-conforming must be terribly rough on the parents and children. Too much of our life and society in general in this country is about either/or when life itself is really about both/and. I recommend this book to everyone young and old with a passion for learning more about people. I especially recommend it for anyone involved remotely in education. This story covered a range of emotions for me. It was a mix of both laughter and tears. There is a middle way and acceptance is the key.

Looking for a good book to read?

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good LifeThe Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

I liked it. The title might put some people off and the language might put some people off too. His frank manner of writing attracted me and held my attention all the way through the book. I think it’s a great book and maybe even a candidate for a best seller award. I loved his analogies and examples. I’d recommend this book as a great read to anyone and especially those of us who have doubts about ourselves.


Love your neighbor as yourself

The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31

These are word easily read but not easily practiced for me. They are words whose point I missed for much of my life and to this day I have difficulty loving and caring for myself. I frequently put myself down. It is a false humility, a pride in reverse that invites me to think less of myself. Today I was having a field day judging myself harshly because something went wrong. We were reimaging computers, dozens of them, when suddenly I realized that we needed an older version of Internet Explorer installed. Immediately my gut began to churn, I stopped living in the present moment and instead began to recriminate myself and pity myself. Neither of these is healthy activities. When I engage in this mindless behavior I also violate the principle of ahimsa. For many years I have admired Mahatma Gandhi and the principle of ahimsa, but it was not until I began to practice yoga that I realized that “non-harming” applies to self too! Tonight following dinner and in the gathering twilight I began with a forward bend, downward dog, mountain and a couple lunges. I began to return to my breath and to love and care for myself as yoga teaches us. Once again I saw the union between this ancient practice and my prayer life. I lift my eyes and my arms toward heaven and touch the cosmos and feel the warm healing energy flow in my body and spirit. It is in these moments that I sense a connection with the cosmic Christ, the alpha and omega of the universe. God is love and he expects us to love each other and ourselves too. As C. S. Lewis says, “humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.” There is a divine paradox in that axiom.

Love and tolerance

Today I received an email message that was a wolf in sheeps clothing. A hateful message masquerading as a national security issue. I replied by asking the person not to send anymore of these missives. I welcomed uplifting messages but asked to be excluded from the prejudicial messages. I received a response that excused the message as coming from an ex-military and “strong” Christian.

Hatred is anathema to the message of Christ and it’s an un-American value too. Perhaps my early exposure to religious and racial intolerance has sensitized me to these sorts of messages. I hope that we can move toward a more inclusive society and country. We are all members of the same human family despite our apparent differences. It is paradoxically our differences that make us stronger as a country and as a society.

Back of the bus

When you grow up white in middle America you have a much different perspective from a guy or gal who grew up black or brown in the ghetto. Rev. Wright is correct in saying America is a racist country. There is no doubt about it. America is also an ethnically diverse country in which most if not all ethnic groups have been discriminated against. I’ve seen racism in myself and its not pretty, but it’s there. Until we see that we are all racists there can be no hope of change. Until we can see that we are all flawed and embrace those flaws we have no hope of redemption. Until we can move away from us vs. them we will repeat this tragic cycle again and again.

As easy as it is for those of us who are white to look back and say, “That’s a terrible statement,” I grew up in a very segregated South, and I think that you have to cut some slack. And I’m going to be probably the only conservative in America who’s going to say something like this, but I’m just telling you: We’ve got to cut some slack to people who grew up being called names, being told, “You have to sit in the balcony when you go to the movie. You have to go to the back door to go into the restaurant. And you can’t sit out there with everyone else. There’s a separate waiting room in the doctor’s office. Here’s where you sit on the bus.” And you know what? Sometimes people do have a chip on their shoulder and resentment. And you have to just say, I probably would too. I probably would too. In fact, I may have had … more of a chip on my shoulder had it been me.

– Mike Huckabee, offering his perspective on the preaching of Rev. Jeremiah Wright. (Source: MSNBC)