Thursday, February 28, 2008

Peace and understanding

There is a whole lotta shakin' going on right now on this planet. For some reason everyone tells me about earthquakes or I'm motivated to check the web at times, and good grief, there are changes galore. Its no wonder everyone is coming in to my office with major life events as of late - dealing with deaths, starting companies, huge relationship shake ups or breakups - change is indeed in the air. Its SO important these days to stop, breathe, and remember love.

I've been challenged to practice more and more tolerance of differing opinions as of late. I saw a TV show on one of my favorite celebrities. As well as presenting all the people who loved her, the show interviewed a woman who ran a website for all the people that disliked this celebrity - and some of the posts on it were quite hateful. At first I got upset... "How could anyone waste their time running a website to cut down another person!?" I started steaming but the angels got on my case, and said, "ANN, Now would be a nice time to practice choosing love." I knew they were right. Not loving feels bad these days. Loving feels good. It is easy to love people you agree with. Its easy to love people whom you feel love and agree with you. But the real mastery is to love those you don't agree with, don't like, or don't understand. It bugged me that I couldn't find love for this woman with whom I disagreed. I usually can. In fact one of my dear friends and teachers whom I love and adore is someone with whom I have no agreement whatsoever on most any topic of conversation we could choose!

But how to love someone who promotes hatred and cutting down another person? I was at a real loss so I prayed. The angels suggested I write to her and ask her if she'd help me understand her point of view. So I did. I told her I was a spiritual instructor and always sought to understand people. I told her I was all for people allowing each other their perspectives and that I realized I would be a hypocrite if I didn't allow her to feel the way she did, but that I wanted to understand her, because I loved the celebrity she hated. I let it go - no judgment, no trying to manipulate her into changing her views, just a good old fashioned innocent and honest question. And to my surprise and delight, she wrote back, very kindly and shared her heart with me. She said she felt bad that the site had gained such huge attention as a 'hate' site - that it started as a joke because she was annoyed by this celebrity's mannerisms, and that she felt as long as the celebrity had no problem with her it was ok to share her views. I thanked her, blessed her for helping ME learn to be more tolerant and was able to find peace with this.

While this is a small example, God knows we are all presented with people whose points of views differ widely from our own. It is inevitable here upon this earth because earth is a one room school house with a diverse group of students. I have learned from interactions with people dear to me that agreement is not necessary as long as there is love. And if we can't love right away, we can at least seek to understand. After all, everybody wants to be understood and if you give someone the courtesy of listening to their perspective without trying to change them, they tend to soften up. If you share your own view with no need for agreement, but just as a way of sharing the God-light within you, people care to listen more.

We spend so much time upon this earth, battling with our wills, arguing, seeking attention, approval, and agreement, and yet the angels have taught me that this is a waste of time. Expression IS important. Speaking your truth with loving kindness and compassion, and allowing other the same makes for a peaceful world, better relationships, and deepend understandings.

Try it - next time you feel quick to judge, tell someone you don't understand them and would like to. Allow them to share, and just listen. Don't try to change them. Don't change your own perspective. Just seek out the common ground of the heart. Magic happens in these spaces. Wars are resolved within your own heart and within others. You may never want to be around the person you disagree with but at least then you can leave in peace with understanding and a degree of respect for their spirit.

This reminds me of a prayer that was attributed to St. Francis of Assisi....

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Be the love you seek and watch it come back over and over again. Love yourself first. Honor your own feelings. Honor your own heart. From that space you are full and can offer love to others. I keep making that choice in my life lately over and over, even when its hard, and as a result I feel good. Truly loving never makes you feel like a doormat or a victim or a martyr, if you include loving yourself. The hard but loving discussions are worth it. The times we put aside pride and come from the heart are worth it. The times we stop trying to please others and share our own truth with love are worth it. This is the real deep meaning of peace - to be who we really are, and to allow others to be who they choose to be as well.