Losing sight… easy to do…
And there it is– day 3 of Lent.
“When the death of their master was clearly imminent, the disciples became totally bereft. ‘If you leave us, Master,’ they pleaded, ‘how will we know what to do?’ And the master replied, ‘I am nothing but a finger pointing at the moon. Perhaps when I am gone you will see the moon.'” –Sufi Tale
What does Joan have to say?
“The meaning is clear: It is God that religion must be about, not itself. When religion makes itself God, it ceases to be religion. But when religion becomes the bridge that leads to God, it stretches us to live to the limits of human possibility. It requires us to be everything we can possibly be: kind, generous, honest, loving, compassionate, just. It defines the standards of the human condition. It sets the parameters within which we direct our institutions. It provides the basis for the ethics that guide our human relationships. It sets out to enable us to be fully human, human beings.” –Joan Chittister
And she’s a NUN! A nun who super gets it, right?
It’s not about following the rules. At least it shouldn’t be. Yet for so many people it is. Church, religion, it becomes a recipe, a prescription, a set of Ikea instructions.
True, when it comes time to build the MALM or the HEMNES, there’s probably one best way… leftover screws can be dangerous. But when you pull it out of the oven, a pie is a pie is a pie is delicious no matter what recipe you followed.
Related: mmmm… pie.
I think religion is like that. If the religion you follow or don’t follow helps you to be fully human, to be kind, generous, honest, loving, compassionate and just, if it points you in the right direction, then who cares what religion it is? Who cares if we’re taking directions from a different master? The moon is still the moon. A pie is still a pie.
Related: mmmm… moon pies.
Yep. I’m prone to losing sight of what matters.
Work’s been like that for me lately. I’ve been feeling unappreciated… in need of more thanks, more gratitude, recognition, pats on the back, etc. Thanks had become my religion. And I was using it inappropriately.
I Stella-style got my groove back this week though. At least temporarily. I started working on a new grant and it’s kind of awesome.
A lot of work. Tight time line. Little bit of stress. But dang– if we get it, it’s going to help a heck of a lot of people. People who really need help.
And that is the point.
My job matters not because of the thanks, but because I get really great opportunities to help– to encourage physicians and researchers, to empower them to implement new programs, to bring services to people who really need them. Most recently, opioid treatment services for addicts in the northwoods. Recently, for people suffering from a rare genetic disorder. And before that, kids in the foster care system.
Honestly, I’m pretty lucky. Just got to keep my eyes on the prize… and not let myself get convinced that the thanks are what matters. Nor is the salary. Or the hours. Or whatever. I feel fulfilled. I am participating in improvement of the human condition.
Speaking of Sufi tales… I keep seeing this bad boy on Pinterest and tonight it popped up on my Facebook feed:
I’d seen “Sufi” this and “Sufi” that so frequently that I really thought it was one really wise and eloquent person. Turns out it’s an Islamic concept. Fascinating. Thanks, Wiki.
Different recipe, same conclusion. Love.