Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Time to Practice

Back when I was just a young pup, and not as smart as I thought I was, Shirley Rabb Winston -- adviser, mentor, and general agent provocateur -- used to tell me, and I can just about hear her melodious voice in my head,

"Daaahing, everyone is doing the very best that they can." 

And she said it in that dramatic way that only old divas can. And then we'd sing a song from the 50's or something from an opera.  And she let me sing along with her even though my voice is untrained and wild, while hers was still clear, strong, and disciplined. Once in awhile she would say something about my singing, I know I sometimes irritated her, but I would always look at her in that way I do, and I'd say that I was doing the very best that I could. We'd have a big laugh out of that because I didn't agree with her about the "very best..." I didn't agree at all.

I once told Shirley that I could give her a list of people who most assuredly were not doing their very best. She advised me to examine my compassion.

As the years have gone by, and Shirley has since gone to that great spotlight in the sky, I've had occasion to watch people. Some people think that I am quiet and reserved. The truth is that I am just watching. I am very interested in all of you people. And what I have seen is that people really are doing the best they can, in each moment, given the resources they have. All of you are.

Sure, sometimes it looks like they are just being big dicks, I know. Oh, I can sure see that. But if you look a little closer you can see that they might not have the resources that some others have. I feel very fortunate that I have had so many opportunities to practice patience, to practice expressing myself authentically, and to practice not knocking people up'side the head. It's an art. I've practiced. Not everyone has had the advantages of practice that I've had. I know that.

Unto whom much is given, much shall be required. Us first-worlders don't like to think about that one too much, but it's in there. And unto me has been given much compassion, many second chances, and opportunities to practice not being a dick.  But, the times I have failed, I failed because of the resources I had in that moment, not because I just wasn't doing my best. Recognizing this is a short exercise in self-compassion and it is one of the shortest and easiest spiritual exercises you can do. And one of the most important. If you can't have compassion for yourself, then it will be hard to have any for others.

And when I see someone who lacks compassion for others, that is one of the saddest things, because you know they lack self-compassion too. And no condemnation is as nasty as self-condemnation. You don't deserve that. You deserve to treated kindly. And others can treat you with compassion, kindness; but until you treat yourself that way you can't really share it with others.

So, look, when you see these rioters, or the terrorists from abroad, or idiots with a pulpit, whatever... there's no shortage of candidates here!.. when you see that, remember that they are operating out of the resources that they have, and it may not be very much, but it's what they've got. It's your chance to practice compassion! Don't loose your chance to practice! Look, it happens to me all the time too:  I have a chance to practice compassion, but I practice something else instead. Woe is me, I do the very thing I hate. I want to do better on that.

When Jesus redeemed the world, the power of his life was such that it set every single soul, every plant, every animal, every thing that has ever been or ever will be on the road to glory. If salvation is something less than that, then I want out. I don't need no half-ass salvation. But, here's the thing, for some reason some of us have more resources for dealing with the earth plane and it's limitation and dimensionality. I don't know why that is. It's too high for me to think about things like that. And I don't think any of you know either. But it does seem to be the case.

Everybody's best is not the same.

Shirley is not here to hear me say this, but maybe if I say it on the internet she will somehow know: 

Shirley, I was wrong. Everybody is doing their best.  You were right all along, my friend. And sometimes, I think about that and I miss you and wish I could tell you. I hope you get this message.

People are trying.They are using the resources they have. If their behavior is not what we would like it to be then there are other questions to ask:

How can I show love and compassion in this situation?
What resources does this person need to be able to cope here and now?
What kind of world am I creating with my own actions and attitudes?
Am I putting out love, compassion, joy?
Am I not?
What do I need to be compassionate with myself?

Oh, the list goes on... and you should make your own list.

But there is more to all this than just blaming people for not acting right. There's more to it than that.

Now is the time to practice whatever you can.


  1. Lindy, you are my hero. (I'm not interested in any half-assed salvation, either!)

  2. Lindy, you've given me a lot to think about. I'm not sure I agree with you, but you're far more compassionate than I will ever be. I expect you may be right, because only God sees the heart.

  3. Well, look, June... I am not really that compassionate, I just have high aspirations. I know that it's a big idea, and I lived with it niggling away in my own heart for a couple decades before I realized that Shirley had been right. And, in the end, we may both be wrong... some things we'll not find out about while on this Earth plane. But, this helps me and it seems true to me. Of course, we're all different.