On the Corner
By Robert Docter –
AN OPEN LETTER
To the MISSION2000 Council, to TERLOC –and to VISIONARIES anywhere:
In life we are always at mid-course–somewhere between the beginnings of things and their end. As we examine what has transpired in past action and what is needed in future plans, we might begin this way:
Center yourself. Clear your mind of the refuse and noise of your complicated world and empty yourself so that creative thoughts might flower. Stay open in your thinking and provide room for the thoughts of others. Leave any anger or fear or frustration or need to please behind. Open your heart to the leading of that part of you which is spirit. It seeks to counsel you and is available to you as the revealed evidence of God’s promise.
Bring with you a respect for history. Weld yourself to values and principles which have provided lasting meaning for you over time, but abandon commitment to blind and rigid practices which fail to generate life. Seek to discover your unique reason for being. Reawaken within you a passion for the poor in spirit, for in so doing, you will find God.
Speak to God. Pray without ritual in an open and honest way, confessing your self-centeredness, thanking him for his never-ending grace. Ask God what he thinks of you. Listen. Avoid self-condemnation, but embrace the power to change. You are valued and important.
Seek to conceptualize your own identity. You are unique. You are not required to be like anyone else. Take the risk to be a little different. Recognize that you share the world with others, but abandon the belief that you are defined by them. Define yourself. Choose your defining words carefully and honestly, but with kindness and a positive spirit. Live with reality. Clarify your perceptions with those of others. Evaluate your sense of reality carefully, for all of us see our world only as through a cloudy glass. You have rights, and it is good to assert them as you interact with others.
Avoid judgmentalism. Recognize that negative labels bring pain. Accept the position that it is good to express your own feelings about the behavior of others, but that it must be done in a manner free of criticism. Confront ideas, not ideals. Debate position, not personalities. Contest content, not character. Dispute facts, not family. Argue merits, not man. Seek to find worth in the ideas of others prior to rejecting them out of hand. Express yourself with respect. Maintain dignity in your communication.
Keep with you a sense of humor. Laugh at yourself. Try to remember life is not nearly as serious as we would make it; that the sun will rise tomorrow; that we occupy a rather small satellite of a rather minor star; that our deliberations will not shatter the foundations of the universe. Avoid hostility in your use of humor. Abandon ridicule. It is subtle but it damages far beyond any expectation we might assign and beyond the duration of any time period we might anticipate. Avoid encouraging with your laughter any demeaning humor which has the potential of diminishing anyone.
Celebrate the sacrament of the basin and towel. In the total panorama of life, the “master” and the “servant” are equal. Enjoy the risk of giving. Hold no fear in taking on the role of server. Share the grief of those who grieve. Accept the pain of those who mourn. Give of yourself generously without the expectation of any return. Abandon the need to receive credit for good works.
Manage conflict gracefully. Enjoy the dynamic energy of forces in opposition and respect its power. Forsake the need to win, for while life is a run, it is not a race. Understand the arguments which differ from your own. Carefully identify what you believe to be the consequences of particular courses of action.
Practice the presence of God. If invited, he lives within you and is available to you. You reveal the dimensions of that presence to the degree you show compassion for those in need. You practice that presence as you place others before self; as you tithe your energy as well as your possessions; as you censor your thoughts, feelings and behaviors in harmony with God; as you seek to make him instead of you pre-eminent in your life.
Now is a beautiful time to be alive.