A Back to School Blessing

Hey Kids,

Tomorrow’s your first day of school.

Normally, we’d have a family dinner and I’d get to tell you ALL THE THINGS.

All the things…

About how to be brave and kind and helpful.

About how to give your teachers a chance.

About how to say hi to a kid who looks lonely.

About how NOT to gossip, or believe the things other people tell you.

About how to work hard and expect the unexpected and do your best.

Normally, we’d have a family dinner and I’d get to hold your hands while we say grace and I’d close with my favorite reminder that our hands create a circle of Love and how that makes us pretty darn lucky and so the least we can do is spread some of that Love around.

Normally, I’d get to kiss and hug you goodnight and make sure there were Lucky Charms in the pantry (our traditional good luck breakfast). I’d get to wake up early and pack your lunches and make you take a picture with the neighbor kids as we have for the past fifteen years.

But tomorrow isn’t normal, because two of the three of you aren’t here to do them!

Tomorrow is your first day of school at COLLEGE and you aren’t living here anymore. Molly alone will suffer through (or bask in) all my attention. Molly alone in the morning pictures. Molly alone with a big box of marshmallow goodness.

Will she survive? Will I?

Of course.

It’s all good, just weird, which is probably why I’m writing. It’s how I work out what’s weird at any given time.

So, here’s a rundown of your mom’s past week.

Wednesday, Finn and I drove up the coast and started moving him in.

Thursday, we visited Keara at Cal State Long Beach.

Friday, we played.

Saturday, I left.

And I’m not going to lie, I cried.  I held Finn in my arms for one giant last hug and I felt my heart ache, just like it did when your dad and I left Keara at college for the first time.

Why? I thought. Why is something so exciting, so natural, and so good, so hard to do? What is it about that final moment that tears me apart?

I listened to sad music for a while on my drive home, but it was getting hard (and dangerous) to see through the tears, so I put on one of my favorite episodes of On Being – the one with Richard Rohr. (I know, I know, kids! Big surprise!) But this time, I heard him explain those final moments we shared and why they were so surreal.

“In the Greek, in the New Testament, there’s two words for time. Chronos is chronological time, time as duration, one moment after another, and that’s what most of us think of as time.”

 

Chronos: Those were my first eighteen years with you guys – day in and day out. The chronos of diaper changes and playgroups and skinned knees and teacher conferences. The chronos of school days and carpools, casseroles and soccer teams. The chronos of homework and dishes and bed-making. The chronos of the lives we’ve shared.

And then he goes on to say:

“But there was another word in Greek, kairos. And kairos was deep time. It was when you have those moments where you say, “Oh my god, this is it. I get it,” or, “This is as perfect as it can be,” or, “It doesn’t get any better than this,” or, “This moment is summing up the last five years of my life,” things like that where time comes to a fullness, and the dots connect, when we can learn how to more easily go back to those kind of moments or to live in that kind of space.”

 

I listened and I thought, Kairos. That’s it, Keara and Finn! That’s why hugging you goodbye was such an out of body experience for me. That day, even up until that very moment, was chronos – the final touches on your new room, the twenty dollars snuck into your wallet, the walking out to the car. It was sad, but normal, until it wasn’t.

In our final embrace, my heart touched yours and then I time-traveled into kairos. I felt the “summing up” of our last eighteen years together, from the moment I first held you in my arms until the very moment when I symbolically let you go. If it were a movie, it would have flashed on your sandy blonde hair, your chubby cheeks and gap-toothed grins, the way you would both squeeze me tight each night and beg for one more hug, story, or song. It would have covered the slammed doors and raised voices and moments of tearful reconciliation. It would have covered your moments of greatest bliss and greatest heartache, when your dad and I were the first ones you looked to for assurance, because we were the way you made sense of the world.

So many years have passed since those things were true. Chronos marched on, but kairos preserved it in my memory and gave it to me as a gift when we left you. And that’s the thing about kairos. It has to be recognized and welcomed, when we’d rather let it pass us by. We’re rational, cynical, linear people. The shift feels disconcerting and uncomfortable, and you can’t shut it down. You have to get past that before it can work its magic.

Kairos whispers to us: Take it all. Take the Love and the hurt, the hopes and the fears, the reality and the possibility.  Experience it and then let it change your chronos, the way you live and love and look at your people day after day after day. 

I don’t mean to say that this is the only kairos moment I’ve ever had, or will have with you. College drop-off isn’t the end-all-be-all by any means. It’s just an opportunity, but milestones of all sorts abound. Moments of deep joy and deep sadness are woven throughout our lives. Trust me, you will experience it, perhaps with me, but certainly with other people you will come to know and love. We often make a big fuss about the event itself, but maybe, just maybe, it’s really about the shift in time and the chance to experience the totality of Love.

So one last thing, kiddos. Here’s the piece of advice I wanted to share. It’s from an IG poet called Atticus.

 

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Imagine me calling you to the family room tonight. You’d come out of your rooms complaining, itching to get back to your phones, or Netflix, or closets where you were deciding what to wear tomorrow. But you’d come, because you always do. You’re good sports that way.

Put your hand on your heart, I’d say.

And I’d walk you through the wisdom of the poet.

And I’d will you to know your power

Tomorrow and always

My children.

I love you.

Mama

 

A Meditation on Leaving for College

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Today is the day Keara moves out.

Yesterday, we blessed her on her way.

My eldest daughter is not a big one for blessings, or prayers. She is not a big one for the subject of God in general. She is somewhere on the agnostic/atheist spectrum – at times willing to throw down the gauntlet that there is no God at all, but other times, unwilling to go that far. I’m okay with it; I know it is her journey, but I am sad for her.  My belief in God and Love in all its manifestations are the focus of my studies, my practice and my way of life and so I used to see Keara’s rejection of God as a rejection of me and all I have tried to give her.

Now, I simply see it as a reflection of her own life experience, her natural tendency towards skepticism and a posture of protection. But every once in a while I see a glimpse of a girl who wants to believe, a girl who opens her heart and allows Love in. Ultimately, my hope is that the seed has been planted, the seed of love, protection, openness, vulnerability – that it is okay to be soft, to let the ones who love you love you in the name of something greater than they are. Ultimately, I hope her life yields an abundant harvest of Love and relationship.

I love to ritualize moments in my family’s life,  and so we often do blessings and prayers as people hit certain milestones, but last night, I decided to try something different. I didn’t want “god-language” to get in the way of Keara’s hearing what we had to say.

I played a short guided Metta meditation by the Buddhist teacher, Sylvia Boorstein, with her husky voice and New York accent. It is a gentle introduction to the Buddhist practice of blessing, which involves the simple repetition of these four lines, beginning with yourself and radiating out to others.

May you feel safe. May you feel content. May you feel strong. May you live your life at ease.

That’s it and yet, it says almost everything. In safety, we do not act out of fear and all the negative consequences it brings. In contentedness, we are not greedy, grasping, envious, or backstabbing. When we are strong, we protect the weak, not just ourselves. To live at ease does not mean we live without suffering, but rather, that the end of the story is already assured.

We sat through the guided meditation as a family, each of us in silence, and in our own space and then we gathered around our daughter and sister, the one who is leaving our shared space, and we blessed her with the following words.


May you feel safe. May you feel content. May you feel strong. May you live your life at ease.

And in those moments when you cannot feel safe, content, strong and at ease, then may you take a deep breath, center yourself and draw on the resources you’ve been given.

Remember your gifts, your talents, your deepest desires and what you are working towards.

Remember your history, what you have accomplished and the obstacles you’ve overcome.

Remember your family and friends whose Love will never waver and whose support you can always count on.

Remember that Love is your birthright, the place you came from and the place you will find your home.

For it is there that you will find the freedom to become most fully yourself, and committed to your future,

Where you will find the courage to embrace hard work, to overcome setbacks, to process your confusion and disappointments and learn from them.

May you always come home – to yourself and who you truly are – gloriously Keara Moses Kirkpatrick, a creative, passionate, determined soul, who is a gift we call our own.

Amen.


Amen, Keara. That is our wish and our blessing for you as you move into your own space in the world, physically, spiritually, and professionally. You know where to find us whenever you want to come home.

Life as a Labyrinth

7125995_origThis is Holy Space/ God is here – you are welcome/ This is your space to be with God/ And God’s space to be with you/ Make yourself at home/ Be yourself/ Be real/ There is no rush/ Let God love you

Just over a year ago, I began my walking meditations in the morning. I went outside and “walked” my prayers, because I needed to remove my head (read: my ego) as the primary operating system for my spiritual life. My mind, intellect and will had taken me about as far as they could go on that journey. I had knowledge; I had discipline; I had something to show for all my hard work: hundreds of pages of prayers and journals and an annotated reading list a mile long. But the fact of the matter was that little to none of this “spiritual” work was actually reaching my spirit any more. So when I had an opportunity to ask a wise woman how to change that, she told me to take a hike, literally. And so I did, every day, for months.

And my head was happy, because she still got to be in charge of directions and my heart was sad, because she had to actually feel what I was feeling. Instead of watching from a distance, my heart experienced disappointment, frustration and sadness. Sometimes, she felt lonely and confused. Previously, I could direct those emotions to my head where my ego would take over, fix the glitch and reason it all away. Our hearts have no such tools. To contain the paradoxes of our lives, they must soften, expand and adapt. In our hearts, we discover that our lives are not something to be solved, but rather something to be lived. By placing my head beneath my heart, I knew pain, but I also experienced authentic joy, connection and wisdom.

Switching the GPS for my spiritual journey from my head to my heart had some unexpected fall out. Simply put, I felt lost. All the maps I had used were obsolete; my best shortcuts took me to dead ends and dark corners. I could no longer get where my ego had been telling me I needed to go for the first forty years of my life. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my final destination had changed.

I had always thought of my life as a journey. The ultimate destination was heaven, but there were a lot of stops on this side of the grave. I witnessed the lives of my parents and their friends. I watched TV shows and movies; I read lots of books and they all seemed to say this: Life is about having a goal. Make a plan and make progress. Go to school, get your degree, get a job. Fall in love, get married and have kids. Raise your kids, work hard and retire. You’ll die, but you’ll rise again on the other side, better than ever. In this schema, life is about forward motion. You could expect some ups and downs on the journey, maybe even some detours, but you always knew where you were headed, because you had a plan. “Life as a journey” looked something like this.

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If Rome is the birthplace of Western Civilization, picture Canterbury as heaven. For a scholar of British literature like myself, it’s not such a stretch. Can you see how it works? Though the way may be far, the journey is all mapped out for you. Anytime you get sidetracked, you can just get back on the road and head to your next destination. There are lots of people with you, safety in numbers and all, so you can never truly be lost.

But over the last few years, between the Great Recession, career changes, teenage children, and a dark night of the soul, the way disappeared. However, I didn’t know how to travel any differently. Even though I had switched operating systems, I just kept trying to make “progress.” It’s what our culture expects us to do. Make something happen. Keep something from happening. Set a course. Stay on course. Find a new course. Move on!  I had done it pretty successfully too, but as I listened to my heart, I finally had to admit that the “life as a journey” metaphor just wasn’t working for me any longer. It’s hard to move forward when you don’t know where you’re headed. So instead of a map, I found this image to rely on.

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In the center of my labyrinth is God and somewhere in the midst of the maze, I am. For the life of me, I couldn’t tell you where. I don’t have a map, or a plan; I have no idea where my next stop will be, or how long I’ll stay there. However, I am also no longer plagued by the question, “Am I making progress?” In a labyrinth, who can tell? When it seems like you are at the furthermost point, you can take one more turn and walk right into the heart of it all.  When you’re confident you are almost “there,” you can pretty much count on being wrong and finding yourself back in the outer ring once again. It is the way a labyrinth works.

Though the image would have terrified my ego, “life as a labyrinth” makes perfect sense to my heart. I may not be able to see where I am headed, but I know I’m never lost. There are simply no wrong turns. There is only one winding path and it leads directly to the heart of God. I cannot go astray as long as I am heading in the right direction. If I ever wonder what direction that is, I simply sit in silence and stillness until I find myself pulled in the direction of Love. And if I ever get scared, turn my back and start walking the other way, all is not lost. The labyrinth is my life; I can never walk out of it. I’ve just made the walk home a little longer.

*The poem is an excerpt from www.labyrinth.org.uk. The heart image is from talented artist, Whitney Krueger.

Fear of Writing?

I’ve sat down to write this blog many times over the last weeks. I still don’t know if I’ll get it right, or not, but I thought I’d try again.  I’ve been struggling with writer’s block lately. Half-formed ideas haunt me, but the words won’t come. I’ve been hard pressed to complete a single thought, much less string together a series of intelligent ones. There have been saving graces – an episode of Project Runway, the death of a beloved author, a strange request from my husband – but those happy (?) accidents seems to have slowed.

Last week I thought I had finally created that perfect writing storm in the midst of my busy summer day: a few hours alone in my cool, quiet house, my work completed, the chores done. There was nothing to distract me. Surely, I would be able to write now. But I couldn’t focus. I fidgeted; I got up and down; I checked email; I about to jump out of my skin. Ultimately, I knew what I needed to do. Despite the 100-degree heat, I went out on a walk to reacquaint my head with my heart and soul. When my head is in charge, there are things my heart finds it impossible to say.

By the time, I got to the end of my street, the truth had already bubbled up to the surface and I was able to admit what had been bothering me. In hindsight, it seems obvious, but sometimes it’s difficult to see what’s right in front of us.

For the past several months, I have been writing about Love: the power of love, the joy of love, the signs of Love – all the things that keep me going, but what I haven’t written about is the shadow side of Love.

Fear.

I have been trying (with some success) to keep things positive. There is nothing wrong with ‘positivity,’ except when I use it to mask other truths. If “perfect love casts out all fear” as Bono and the Bible like to say, why mess around with anything else? The Love I have been writing about is that perfect Love. If I know that Love, as I have been claiming to, then it shouldn’t leave room for anything else in my life.

Except that it does. There is plenty of room for the flip side of love. My fears are still here. I am utterly and completely human, so even perfect Love has to go through my filter. I process it imperfectly and end up with something infinitely less than I began with. Somehow, I fooled myself into believing that this perfect, cosmic Love would leave me fearless. I discovered on my walk that it hasn’t, which is why I found myself sitting at the end of my street in the middle of the afternoon, crying my eyes out.

Quite simply, I’m afraid.

Andy Rooney once said, “A writer’s job is to tell the truth” and as I sat there, I realized that I can’t write, because I’m not telling the truth. I’m telling some of the truth – the truth about Love and what it can do. I’ve been holding something back too – the truth about what happens when Love doesn’t win, because let’s face it, sometimes our humanity simply won’t let it. Bono never mentioned that our fears could cast out that perfect Love as well. I kind of wish he would have warned me.

We embrace our fears just as often, if not more so, than we accept the Love that is available to us. It doesn’t mean that Love gives up, or that Love isn’t there. It just means that fear has the upper hand for a while. Fear doesn’t give up either. My life is a dance between Love and fear. Love has been on center-stage and fear wants to have it’s day too.

So for the sake of transparency and to get over my writer’s block, I thought I would share some of my fears with you.  It’s a short list. I only included three of the biggies.

I am afraid of growing old.

I am afraid of the unknown.

I am afraid of failing God in some critical way.

There they are.

Whew.

No, wait, not whew.

More like Aaaahhh! What did I just do?

I thought I would feel better, laying them all out there, but I don’t, not really. Unlike Love, fear doesn’t bring freedom. Basking in fear diminishes us and the possibilities for our lives, but maybe you already knew that. Deep down, I know it too, but sometimes fear just gets the upper hand.

My dear friend Joyce said to me recently, “Don’t make a decision based on fear. What would you do if you were fearless?” Maybe her question is just another way of asking, “What would you do if you were in Love?”

What would you do if you were in Love and it made you fearless?

I don’t think I can answer that question today. Fear is hogging the dance floor. However, Love is waiting  patiently in the wings. She knows her turn will come again soon and I know she will leave me breathless with beauty and wonder. Personally, I can’t wait for our song to come on. Fear is not my favorite partner.

Is that Any Way to Answer a Prayer?

Last week as I was walking I had a really hard time getting rid of Patty – you remember her – my “neighbor” who haunts my morning walks. If you missed that story, you can catch up here.

So there was Patty, just yammering away – I can’t even remember exactly what she was worried about – but she was digging into the past, projecting into the future, finding the most minute and gruesome details to chew on and the more I tried to leave her and my ego, my mind, and my worries behind, the less I seemed able to do so. I resembled nothing so much as a dog gnawing a bone.

I tried to breathe in and out, to place myself in the present moment, to enjoy the nature around me, but I was barely taking it in. I felt like I was simply a brain, walking around on my own two feet. Does this look familiar?

And so I began to pray that I could move out of my head and into my heart– that God would help me to truly feel something. There are so many things I think I know, but so few things that I truly feel. And so as I walked I asked God to help me feel, to soften my heart, to give me an experience of real emotion. But after praying for feelings for a minute or two, I started to get nervous. I chickened out and began to backpedal. I know what it feels like to feel things, and I don’t particularly like it.

I said in effect, “Just kidding about that God. I don’t actually want to have a heart that feels things deeply. That hurts too much, so here’s my new and improved prayer. I pray for the feeling to want feelings. I pray that you give me the desire to desire feelings. Someday I will want things to touch my heart, but I’m not there yet, so let’s just go slow. Give me the courage to feel things and then I will pray for things to feel.”

Whew I thought, that was a close one. Baby steps really are the way to go when it comes to these kinds of things.

I continued on with my walk, thinking I had dodged a bullet, and relieved that I had made it quite clear to that I wasn’t up for the challenge yet. I went back to Patty and my old self and walked on home.

Not surprisingly, I didn’t see any ‘#signs of love’ on my walk that day.

But a funny thing happened when I got home. I started getting everyone ready for school – smoothies and bagels and 6-course lunches for four, and then Keara remembered to do something important she forgot, which made a major mess in my kitchen where I was already making a mess and suddenly, wouldn’t you know it, I felt something! Standing there in my kitchen, I felt something ghastly rising up inside me, something like rage, something like judgment and frustration and bitterness! And wouldn’t you know it, I acted on those emotions, because in my experience, that’s what you do when you feel something. And I raised my voice, and I grabbed her project and I finished it for her – the right way of course- and tossed the finished project at her and asked everyone to please get out of my kitchen, thank you very much and I would just handle everything myself and deliver everything they needed if they would just please go away and be quiet!

So that went super well.

And I barely had time to make my apologies before they had to leave for school, but I did. I gave them kisses and hugs and said I was sorry for losing my cool and for acting crazy. I told them they were lovable, sweet, kind children who didn’t deserve the temper tantrum their mother just had. Keara also got a quick reminder that it would really help me out if she would try to remember to wrap up messy projects sooner rather than later.

And Tim, who missed it all because he was upstairs, shot me a quizzical look on his way out the door, which I just waved away, with a “Have a nice day!”

And when the house was silent, I could hear God laughing and I started laughing too, because really, what else can you do?

Apparently, God has selective hearing, just like my husband who tends to be good at hearing what he wants to hear and really good at tuning out the rest. God listened when I asked to experience genuine emotion and ignored me when I took it back. Within minutes God gave me real emotions – they just happened to be really negative emotions. Perhaps I wasn’t specific enough.

I don’t believe in unanswered prayers. I believe that much of the time, we just don’t like the answer, so we put our heads down and pretend that we don’t see it sitting there the whole time.

Obviously, I got the answer to my prayer that morning. God listened to the brave part of my prayer – the part that admitted I was ready to grow and change, and be free of the prison of my mind and the safety it affords me. I also believe He heard the second part of my prayer, where my courage failed and I asked to be left a little bit longer in the cell of my comfort zone.

Is it any wonder that He gives more credence to the prayers that align us with His will? The ones that make us more loving, more compassionate, more fully human and therefore more divine? Is it any wonder that He ignores the rest?

While part of me wanted to say, “See! Don’t give them to me; I don’t know how to handle them responsibly,” the other part of me knew that I was one failure closer to success. Next time I could, and perhaps even would, do better. Next time, I might even experience feelings of deep joy and excitement and what might my response be then? I don’t know, but it might be wonderful to watch.

So I will keep trying to say that brave part of prayer over and over again. I will keep trying to stay open to Love and how it makes me feel and if I respond like a two-year-old, that’s okay.

I’m working on it.

My Morning Walk: Part II

After my early morning experience with the nature of Love, or Love in nature, I’ve started taking morning walks, trading in one form of meditation for another. I no longer wake up and write. Instead, I lace up my shoes, pour a cup of coffee and head out the door.

The purpose of the walk is twofold.

I go to find solitude and to go slowly.

Going slow may not seem like much of a purpose; in fact, to most of fitness-conscious Southern California, it sounds like the anti-purpose of walking. But I’ve come to see that I go fast enough already, all day long. Going slow is an anathema to me, which is all the more reason to learn how to do it. It’s not easy. In fact, that’s why I bring the coffee: to remind me to sip and savor my surroundings, to literally stop and smell my neighbor’s roses.

But what I thought would be the hardest part, going slow, is not as hard as the harder part: finding solitude.

Somehow, an old friend, let’s call her Patty, has found out I’m walking and has decided to join me on these early morning strolls.

Actually I wouldn’t call her a friend. She’s more like a nemesis. Though I try to evade her, by the time I get a few houses away, there she is, keeping step with me, ready to chatter away about her plans for the day and gossip, filling my head with negative energy. I’ve tried sending her away, saying politely, but firmly that this is my time, for peace and quiet, to not think about all the things she’s obsessing over, but she’s very persistent. If I really press her, she might fall silent, or walk on the other side of the street for a while. But she’s usually back, the very next day, ready to keep me company again. Apparently, she thinks I would get lost without her.

Now if you’re wondering why I don’t just get rid of her, the fact of the matter is that I can’t.

Patty is me.

Patty is my conscious self, my ego, my mind,. And no matter how hard I try to leave her at home, she always tags along.

She is just full of ideas.

She tries to get me to multi-task: “If you’re walking, you might as well walk faster and get your exercise in.”

She tries to get me to plan: “If you get home by 6:30, that will give you 15 minutes to write and then 10 minutes to make lunches and then 5 minutes to …”

She tries to get me to worry: “Keara has a Spanish test today and a math test too. Did she study hard enough? Did the Lad finish his math homework? Will Molly ever grow?”

Patty tries to get me to stick with her, but the whole point of the walk is to find some measure of stillness, away from my busy mind. The point of the walk is to discover the truth of what I know, apart from words and plans and the power they hold.

I want to be clear about something. Patty is not a bad person. I need Patty. She keeps me on track during my day, directs me about my tasks and makes sure that my family and work life run smoothly. Sometimes, Patty can be quiet. Sometimes, she sleeps; sometimes, she’s distracted, and on occasion, she is actually satisfied with what we’ve accomplished during our day.

It’s been several weeks now and I’ve realized that Patty is coming on these walks with me whether I like it or not. It was a naïve fantasy that she would remain home in bed while I was up and about in the world. So I’ve learned these walks are really about teaching Patty to be silent, to remember she isn’t the only one in this relationship. And so far, I think it’s been good for us – me, myself and I.

The Silent Treatment

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you probably know that I have a daily prayer practice. I’d like to call it meditation, which sounds so much cooler, but I’d be lying. I don’t light incense, or chant. I don’t clear my mind. I am much more likely to have a thought, follow it and watch it unfold. However, I do breathe deeply. I do invite the divine presence (s) to be with me. I do try to be honest about my life – what I’ve done and failed to do, what has made laugh and/ or cry. I look for patterns, try to find perspective, and ask for grace. Having a serious prayer practice isn’t nearly as holy, or pious as it sounds, but I do know that it’s useful, or has been for me.

On my best days, I have an hour before my family wakes to sit and pray. But most days aren’t my “best days,” so more often than not, I get 30 minutes or so, and on the weekends, I might neglect to set the alarm and take what I can get later on. But last night, I did something that I have never done before. I was tossing and turning; it was close to midnight and I reached over and turned off my alarm, not because I wanted to sleep in (which I’ve done often enough before), but because God and I had had a bit of an argument the day before and I wasn’t sure I was ready to talk to Him yet. In short, I was planning on giving Him the silent treatment.

He, however, had other plans. I woke up this morning and thought to myself smugly, “Ha! I showed him. I slept right through our time,” but when I looked over at the clock, it was precisely 5:58 a.m., the exact time we begin every morning. Ha! He showed me. He seemed to be saying, “Whether you planned to speak to me or not, you’re up, so you may as well.”  I’ve been doing this for long enough to know that He was right, so I got up and began my prayer with equal parts relief and trepidation.

The danger with giving someone the silent treatment is that you’ll stay there for far too long. I think that there is a time for silence when you’re angry, when you’ve gotten past the point where words are useful, and they’ve become blunt force objects whose sole purpose is to injure and maim. Most of us have probably learned where that threshold is and can hold our tongues. However, the silent treatment is a different weapon all together. It’s meant to punish the other, but more effectively punishes us. While we might stop speaking our thoughts out loud, we typically launch into self-justifying monologues in our own heads, rants of George Carlin-esque proportions. We inflate the righteousness of our own position, while reducing the other person, usually someone we love, to an insignificant speck in the cosmic scheme of things. And then there’s that awkward moment when you do have to speak again, when you have to let go of your anger, and find a way to move on.

You can see why this might be a problem when your adversary is God.

So I sat on the couch, closed my eyes and sighed. The rants, the anger, the dirty looks are useless when your opponent is Love, boundless and unchangeable. There is nothing I can do that will hurt Him. Even if I’m angry, if I stamp my feet, and try to run away, I can’t. There is nowhere I can go that isn’t in the palm of His hand, inside the circle of His arms. The silent treatment is useless against unconditional Love.

So when I got over myself and began to speak again, He was there, waiting patiently for me. There was no awkwardness, no apologies needed. He was ready to listen, willing to hear whatever it was I had to say. And so I tried again to express what I was feeling and I tried even harder to listen to what He might have to say on the subject. No, I’m not a mystic, or a religious nut. I never hear His voice, or words coming down from the Heavens. But I hear Him all the same, if I am paying attention. If I am open to it, if I am aware, then His response unfolds in the every day occurrences of my life, in something I read, a movie I watch, a conversation I have. Sometimes, He even deigns to speak through a Facebook post.

After thinking about it, I’ll probably try to avoid giving anyone the silent treatment in the near future. Silence?  Yes, as long as it’s necessary and helpful. But mute anger? I think I’ll pass. And I hope that the next time someone (probably Keara) tries it on me, I’ll react differently. I hope I can take a lesson from God’s playbook and remain uninjured and unoffended. I’ll try to communicate that no matter how far she goes, my love goes farther and that I will be waiting here patiently, ready to listen, no apology necessary.

That’s what Love does, or so I’ve heard.