Thursday, March 02, 2017

Thursday after Ash Wednesday 2017

 Many are the times I have played with this phrase from the Letter to Titus:
To the pure all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure. Their very minds and consciences are corrupted. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their actions. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.  - Titus 1.15-16
I would comment, as those who know me might expect, that "to the pure all things are pure" and to the rest of us...."  Well, I have never in my adult life denied having a naughty and dirty mind.

Yet there is something profound here. We know that any given situation has as many interpretations as it has interpreters, each one of them perceiving through their own lens.  The experiences I bring to each circumstance have shaped my expectations, preconceptions, fears, hopes, and filters.  If I enter a room, a conversation, a new day filled with suspicion or dread, I am quite likely to find any number of signs confirming my worst fears.  If, on the other hand, I approach the moment seeking something wonderful, I am far more likely to find it.  It is not that the objective situation (whatever that construct may mean) is any different.  Our responses differ as much by what be bring to the moment as by what we find within it, perhaps even more so.

As I write all this, I should be disappointed to be mistaken for a believer in magical thinking, or positive thinking.  Believe it will be terrific, and it will be!  No, I don't expand from an observation about how we perceive and interpret to some metaphysical "law of attraction."  Wishful thinking does not make it so.  On the other hand, our reactions and the stories we tell of our experiences move into and shape our future experiences and we do participate in the shaping of our lives.

While I do not pretend to purity (though there is a huge part of me that remains an innocent child full of wonder), I do try to look for and nurture the best in others.  This gets much better results than looking for the worst and dwelling on it. Similarly, I choose to live in hope rather than despair.  Even if my hopes are based on illusion, it remains a much better way to live life.

Having tasted depression, I know one cannot simply flip a switch to change one's view of the world and one's mood.  What we can do, day by day and bit by bit, is nurture faith, hope, and love.  It is the ordinary times in which we gather resources for the crisis moments.

So, my fellow travelers, even if we have dirty minds we can still nurture a kind of purity that looks for the good, the beautiful, the true, the holy, the joyous in every moment.  We will not always see them but the more we seek, the more we will find.

Taking a cue from the Psalm, we can also recognize the injustices of life without letting them poison us.  I am not responsible for the ultimate outcome of justice, karma, etc. I am only responsible for what I choose to do, say, and think.

Some folks asked me on Wednesday what I was giving up for Lent.  Heavens, I have not given anything up for Lent in many years.  I occasionally take things on for Lent.  This little essay is only Day Two.  No promises still, but I am trying to do some reflecting and sharing.

I did acknowledge my sinfulness and receive ashes, even though I had not anticipated doing so.

Peace be upon you all.
--the BB

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