Friday, January 30, 2009

gracious tenders of fire

Oh, I have a fire in my belly and sometimes it doesn’t burn so pure. It threatens to hop out of its grate and scorch those that get in the way. I am so grateful for the responses to judgment or observation and how it helped me to see for myself where and how I want people to join me in my “righteous” flame. My reader responses were so thoughtful that I wanted to respond here in post rather than have it buried in the comment section. (The following, in most instances, contains my paraphrasing rather than direct quotations.)

Difference a Year Makes spoke of bringing our own eyes and filters to each situation. What a great little reminder of something that I often preach, but sometimes forget to practice ☺. In this case, my filter comes from someone who grew up quite familiar with judgments in general and Christian fundamentalism in particular. I have also been a mother who wonders when she might get the call that something has happened to her “not model” child. So, I get a little sensitive when all of those things collide together as they did in the referred to recent e-mail.

Gabrielle reminded me that we have the power to choose what we do with our observations and judgments. I can choose to hold onto thoughts and let them fester or I can let it go and transform into something else. Tess and Sunrise Sister let me know that my interpretation could be subject to another point of view. (Ouch! That one hurt a little and I really wanted to fight it.)

While the wording in the e-mail did indicate that prayer for the deceased (or perhaps one who takes one’s own life) might not be appropriate, I was reminded by Sorrow that the author was indeed seeking comfort for the family and not attempting to exclude anyone. She was trying to be respectful of other’s faiths. Furthermore, Barbara and my husband reminded me, there are wonderful, faith-filled people who do not believe in praying for the dead. While I still get caught on that one, I can let it go as a difference of opinion and not something I am called to judge. It is here I realized I wanted others to join with me and say, “That Faith is wrong!” Gabriella M. reminded me that I can accept someone without liking what they do.

The gracious words of those who love and tolerate my fiery nature led me gently back to the place I long to be. It is a place where I am not attached to my thoughts and thus they do not turn into judgments and I am at peace with the world and myself. It is a place where I recognize myself as fallible, broken and wondrous and I can see others that way too.

This time the fire briefly threatened to be one that could consume. Instead, my friends came around like gentle tenders of the flame, nurturing with word, musing and metaphor to keep the fire a place of warmth and safety rather than danger and destruction. Peace to each of you, fire tenders.

For those of you who did not read the responses to this post, I highly recommend you visit there for beautiful words of wisdom and grace.


Dianna Woolley said...

This is such a wonderful post - I am so happy that you did not "bury" it in the comments.

I was a responder to your original post here so I followed the post, my reaction, and the others as they fell into place. My own heart was opened in a profound way being reminded of the gentleness of your readers in guiding you to another view of the response, and also guiding us all that wanted to feel the fire that you felt - the fire of hurt or anger or maybe impatience. I, too, needed to be reminded of the wonderful faithful friends (and not so friendly sometimes)who have strong faith and beliefs and are very good people, even though they don't see God nor God's message in the same light as I do. Thank you again for expanding your heart and mind, along with expanding mine:)

Kate I said...

Lucy, the interesting thing for me about your post was that I had just hopped over to you from another blog where the author was discussing our "shadow side" and how the things that upset us about others are actually our own shadows or issues...these people have a message for us. It was like I needed to read both of these posts and get a grip on my own "shadow".

My buttons are pushed with what I consider to be self centered and self absorbed people so I obviously need to look at why that's such an issue for me because in fact it's really just my own perception and interpretation. Although this is all stuff I "know", it was good to be reminded and become aware once again, so I can step off that treadmill!

RipGurl said...

Lucy, I love the analogy of "tenders of the flame." It speaks yards about acceptance. You accept that the fiery side of you can be both warming and dangerous. Realizing that we can temper our characteristics to let the positive side emerge, is a huge accomplishment. I battle my own personality strengths and weaknesses. Knowing that reflections from others can help us to both accept and temper our gifts is grand.

lucy said...

SS--as we have discussed at great length, that is much of the wonder of this blogging thing. where else could you/i/we receive such expansive responses and have the time and ability to take each one of them in and be affected? as you mentioned, i am not the only one who has grown because of these exchanges.

(btw--did you notice that kate's comment referred to "the shadow side"?)

kate i - some times looking in a mirror is easier than others. you reminded me again of how much i struggle with my own judgments! i was also reminded that i believe the opposite of the shadow side is true. i.e. if we see beauty, love, joy, creativity, honesty, etc. in others then we can receive that message (those traits) for ourselves too.

ripgurl - thanks for this. i believe that often our greatest strengths can lead to our biggest downfalls and vice versa. just like can be life-giving or life-taking!

Anonymous said...

I haven't read the comments in the last post (but read that post and this one) but let me just say that your ability to be "open" and take in the opinion of others is by definition what I call "Graceful". You my friend are exactly that. Throw in some classy too.

lucy said...

andie--i am humbled. thank you!

Anonymous said...

lucy, I haven't checked blogs in a few days, but just wanted to thank you for your honesty and desire to welcome in these other perspectives. you are definitely full of grace. :-)