So yeah… It didn’t go as expected. As I wrote last week, I am hoping to find out if: “Just as surface tension pulls dew drops together, is there really a special energy to doing loving things that pulls people together?”
Warning – this blog is not so touchy-feely – but I feel it is important. So I will ask your forgiveness now for it’s rather academic tone.
So what were my expectations? It being week one, they weren’t that lofty.
Remember that part of the experiment is to be spontaneous, rather than being “on the look out” — and anonymous in the sense of trying to be loving without acting in such a way that says – “Hey world, look at me! I’m doing something good here.”
So generally, I was expecting that there would be some mutual sense of feeling more hopeful. Maybe I might get lucky and have that deeper experience that somehow “changes things for the better” – something that makes you shed an emotional tear or two after reading about it in Chicken Soup for the Soul.
Certainly, there was no shortage of opportunities to reach out – which is a lesson in of itself about how much turmoil is out there. I’ll need to sit with that one a little longer because that moment of clarity was a little sobering.
And certainly also, there were mutual good feelings. I found that I felt lighter and somehow liberated from something that had been weighing me down that I was not at first aware that I had been carrying. That was universally followed up by a feeling of gratitude.
It’s what came after that caught me off guard.
In the wake of the liberating feelings I found came that sense of clarity I spoke about just a moment ago where it was so, so clear that there is no shortage of need. It made me look deeper and harder and more intently…. not at the world as one might expect…. but at myself.
Questions would well up in me…. like “If it’s that easy, why don’t I do this more often?”, or “If it it’s that easy, is it worth anything?” And if I stayed with them too long, it was not long before that the vacuum created by the the liberating feelings, turned to feelings of impotence and inadequacy.
Now I know that sounds rather depressing. But there is good news.
As I became more focused on the good that I was trying to do, I became less focused on the mountain of things I could not affect. Psychologists call this selective attention – meaning it’s not a moral choice we are making as much as it’s a function of your state-of-mind and condition of spirit.
As I reflect, I am feeling that “something else” was in control which is where those liberating feelings came from – the paradox being that in reaching out to someone else, it was myself that I was really meeting and not the other person. And the more I got to know myself, the more attuned I became to my surroundings and others around me. Then, the better I seemed to automatically be drawn to places where I could make a difference — however small — that was real and material. It happened only once this past week that I am conscious of, but that is once more than the week before.
So that is where I am so far. I really wish in one sense I had more earth shattering stories to share. In another sense I am glad. The life of service is meant to be humble, not glamorous, I think.
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Carleton Memorial United Church
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