Continuing the topic begun on Monday:
4. Speaking the truth in love is easier done than said. When in doubt, be silent -- it's more honest and more compassionate than any other language. When in doubt, be merciful. When in doubt, do something simple to convey compassion. When in doubt, and you struggle to tell the truth lovingly, then don't worry about truth and choose love first. The person is more important than the argument. When we are in conflict, we must remember that the things to be overcome are the wrong, the distance, and the coldness. It is not the person. A person is never the one to be overcome.
5. It is hard to focus on heaven when you live in utopia. Stay grounded. So many people who come by San Lorenzo Seminary have told us that it's a little slice of heaven. They mean to compliment the Creator for the beauty of the earth, which is only proper; however, this place is not heaven. It is, to my mind, more properly called utopia, which means "no place." Although we have neighbors -- folks who operate ranches, vineyards -- we are, generally speaking, removed from society. We are literally nowhere near the places in which most people live. How do you make a home in a place that is no place, especially a holy home, a Christian home, a dwelling for Christ? Although I disliked being in Kansas, feeling unmoored from my social center of gravity in a little rural town, at least it was a place with roots. Although I have resided in California for a year, I cannot say I have actually lived in California, being separated from the cultures that make the Golden State the place it is. What little I have experienced that is authentically California, I have loved. Our pilgrimages to San Francisco and Los Angeles were a joy, as were the retreats to Malibu and Soquel. I could live in California for several years if God called me to do so, but San Lorenzo Seminary in Santa Ynez is only a temporary resting place for pilgrims and strangers. Staying grounded has been a challenge.
6. God shows no partiality. Why should I? To quote a friend of my neighbor David Crosby (yes, that David Crosby), "If you can't be with the one you love, honey, love the one you're with" (Stephen Stills). Think of Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus turns the question back to the questioner. Do not ask, Who is my neighbor? Ask instead, Am I being a neighbor? This year, I have learned that "brother" is synonymous with "neighbor." A brother is the neighbor who lives in your household. God sees no difference between our external neighbors and internal neighbors; the neighbors who are our friends and the neighbors who are a nuisance; the neighbors we like and the neighbors we dislike. All God sees are her children.
7. Every day is "ministry day." And not only Friday, the day of our external ministry. At home, the opportunities for fraternal service as a lesser brother are manifold. This goes beyond the assigned duties of grounds and newsletter and occasional kitchen service. I failed to take advantage of the opportunities surrounding me, out of self-absorption, selfishness, sloth; whatever the reasons, they were not good ones, and I hope to do better in the next fraternity I live in.
Enough for now. More later.