Practicing Beloved Community – What love can I bring to this moment?
This month I’d like to share the wise and compassionate words from Teresa Honey Youngblood, the Family Ministry Coordinator of the Soul Matters Team. Like Theresa, I also struggle with how to respond with love to racist and classist comments. I hope you’ll join me in practicing taking pause and reframing a response to answer, “What love can I bring to this moment?”
In joyful service,
Leah Purcell, Director of Religious Education and Family Ministry
The call of the Beloved Community to respond to hate with nonviolence and to seek to make friends of enemies can feel seriously unrealistic, if not sometimes unsafe. Those feelings are real. And, as we know, feelings aren’t fixed states of being, they are signposts, giving us information about where we are in the moment, and where we might want to go in the near future.
This month’s mantra challenges us to let difficult and strong emotions pass through our psyches, and either despite them or in light of them, ask ourselves: What love can I bring to this moment?
There will be no right answer to this question. Each challenging situation is going to be different. The win is going to be the pause and the asking of the question, the refocusing of one’s precious energy on love–selflove, love for another, or maybe love for the Holy that unites us all.
Here, we are talking both about a very small action, and a magnificent one. On the face of it, we are simply “going high” rather than getting bent out of shape when confronted with insult and injury. But what this really means is that in refusing to allow ourselves to be dragged into spiritual resentment or despair, we are demonstrating to others–and ourselves–that another world is possible, and it begins with the decision we make in the very next moment.
Here’s a simple example: a friend drops a casually classist comment on you and keeps talking as if it nothing happened. You, internally, feeling triggered: pause… What love can I bring to this moment? One choice might be to tell your friend, “Ouch! That comment hurt. Can I tell you why?” Another choice might be, “I love you, (friend), so I need to tell you that you did harm by what you just said.” Yet another, “I don’t think I would have phrased it like that, but I think you’re saying you don’t understand ___________ about working-class culture.” Or, maybe the most loving thing you could do for your friend and yourself would be to let the moment pass, making a mental note to come back to the words later, when you’ve had time to think.
Without the pause and reframing of What love can I bring to this moment?, many of us–myself (Teresa) included–would definitely struggle to make a connected, clear-headed decision in the above situation. So often, we react out of old patterns, either outwardly, inwardly, or both. In order for us to keep building the beloved community, we have to learn and relearn how to drop into heart center before responding, until the day that such responses become second nature for us. ?