“Spirituality is expressed in everything we do.” –Anne E. Carr
Another day of lent, another quotation. And this time, by a woman named Anne. Anne with an e. Important to take note of that e. My graduate school advisor spelled her name that way, with an E, and a lot of people spelled it wrong. First time, fine. But over and over and over again following several back-and-forth correspondences? She always found it to be offensive– showed a lack of caring, lack of respect, lack of attention to a detail that was important to her. I’ve waffled back and forth about that idea for some time. But I get it. I really do. I have enough years of Rachael with the extra a instead of the correct Rachel to understand why it can be frustrating.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy spelled my name Rachael on a wedding gift. Seth suggested I change my name accordingly. Disagree. But I digress.
Spirituality is expressed in everything we do. When we fail to take note of something that’s meaningful or important to someone else, it can be hurtful. Mistakes happen, of course, but often it’s a choice not to spend the time, to take the note.
Believe it or not, that doesn’t seem to be Joan’s point today (she’s just so much deeper than me!):
“I believe that our lives are our spirituality but I am not sure that behavior is its best test, its certain indicator. I do a great many things that ‘look’ good: I suppress anger, I give partial responses to serious questions, I hold myself to my own breast and live life within life within life that no one else knows about. But at the same time, I long desperately to bring all of them into focus, into line, into the One, where the heart is soft toward everything and everyone in this world. So which approach is real spirituality?” –Joan Chittister
Oh my. Another question… not really an answer. Does our behavior really reflect our spirituality? What’s in our heart of hearts?
Because of Anne (with an E), I’ve always tried to pay careful attention to how people spell their names and to get it right. I want to make note, to display to that person that I care… but then again, am I actually making note because it is part of my heart being soft toward everything and everyone in the world? Or am I concerned about it only because I feel like it makes me look good? Like I have paid attention?
Huh. I honestly don’t know.
The way I treat people, whether I note the e at the end of their name, maybe it matters. But does it really matter if I’m noting it only to look good? Not because I really mean it?
I guess the question is, then, how important is intention? Even Joan doesn’t seem to have that all figured out. Must be something worth thinking about.
Turns out, after mulling it over alllllll the live long day, through several loads of laundry and a walk in the snow with my Curls, a trip to the Y and the grocery store in yoga pants followed by a dinner of spaghetti and a nice long shower, a viewing of Pitch Perfect (I finally got Seth to watch it!) and a big bowl of popcorn, I have decided that part of my own personally spirituality, the thing I feel in my heart of hearts, is that any chance I have to make someone else feel good… or at the very least not feel bad… I should take it. I want to take it. Because I believe in raising others up, not bringing them down.
Well, I believe that most of the time. Not all of the time. You know those times when it’s practically impossible. Mean girls, Facebook, you catch my drift. Doesn’t seem to matter how many years go by. I’m trying to be better. I swear I try!
Regardless, my decision is that remembering the e on Anne or the single l in Michele or the correct way to spell Amy/Aimie/Aimee matters. No one is celebrating their name being spelled correctly (except, I imagine, for all the poor Siobhans out there), but when I have an opportunity to make a note, spell it right, and not contribute to someone feeling disrespected or ignored or whatevs, I better take it.
I think that behavior matters. Maybe because of my intention? I don’t know. What do you think? How does your behavior reflect your soul?
PS: Seth and I are Packer owners now. We have a share of the team. So Coach McCarthy better get it right next time! Fun fact– he took this picture for us when we were at Lambeau Field last Tuesday.
I kid of course. We’d have kicked my mom out and had her take the picture of the rest of us if he’d been there 😉