On Being (Faithful)

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Ok, so not all of my deep thoughts come from Instagram, but the posts I tend to follow are the ones that give an encouraging comment, an engaging quote or a suggestion for practice. And there’s plenty of snark, too; the Thug Yoga memes that read “I don’t carry any hate in my heart. If I loved you before, I’ve still got love for you. Stay away from me, though.”

I recently read an article about Krista Tippett in New York magazine, called “Krista Tippett is a Religion,” and it was about the phenomenon of her broadcast “On Being,” whose episodes have been downloaded some 53 million times. Tippett is a divinity school graduate, as are some of her staff, and in her new incarnation as the head of “The On Being Project,” she continues to have conversations about our way of being in the world, about our shared humanity, and how we want to live and relate to one another.

Although the show avoids talk of God, it delves deeply into mystery, existential questions of death and beauty, and the inner life and how it manifests. Particularly in this time of division, denial, and seemingly senseless power struggles, my curiosity about how the secular world makes sense of (what to me are faith) questions intrigues. And so I scroll, keeping the time limited, to investigate The Met, Huff Post, I Require Art, and one of my favorites, Drinking With Chickens.

As someone who navigates the divide between the church world and secular employment, I think often of how I want to live and relate in my various incarnations as preacher, teacher, office staff, pastoral presence, colleague and friend. I can talk the church talk and the faith talk, but if that is a foreign language to my friends and colleagues who have no church or faith background and aren’t particularly interested in one, am I equipped to attend to their mystery, their existential questions and their inner lives, without my overlay of faith vocabulary? I think most of us have this skill but I wonder if it is time to develop it still more, to let go of our own answers and ask anew what it would be like to hear and to speak good news of love and compassion and truth and kindness in a new context.

I don’t have an answer here, or a new program, or a new format for general use. What I do have is willingness, and practice. As a yoga teacher, I have to show up every day on the mat and work with the body and the mind that are present in that moment, which changes, often. As a Spiritual Director, I have to release of any knowledge, insight, past history and expectations and attend to what God is doing in this moment, this conversation, right now. Mostly, though, I have to let go of what I think would be helpful and live into a humility that a wisdom not my own will guide me though, even if it comes from a meme mash up. Today’s was a picture of Fred Rogers, Steve Irwin, and Bob Ross, with the caption, “Rogers: Be Kind to Other People, Irwin: Be Kind to Animals, Ross: Be Kind to Yourself.” Their pictures were backlit with white clouds and radiating sunbeams in a blue sky. Across the sky was written, The Trinity of Wholesomeness.” I laughed, and thought, “Well, we could do worse.”

Leslie Mott ministers in the area of clergy care and nurture and is  Spiritual Director and Yoga teacher.

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