Monday, July 07, 2008

but...

I never cease to be amazed at how we are always moving toward ourselves. How can we be “moving toward ourselves”, you might ask. Aren’t we already us? Yes, of course, and I believe, No, absolutely not. In Christian terms, one could say that the journey is becoming more like Christ. Does that make more sense? My point this morning is not to have a theological discussion, but rather to comment on the journey and how so many seemingly small things begin to come together and, if we are paying attention, there comes a point in time when they begin to converge and we can see the larger picture. It is kind of like taking varying pieces of paper in collage work and while the individual scraps don’t look like anything significant, when you stand back and behold a larger more significant image has been constructed out of the scraps.

Take for example the tiny scrap of a word, “but”. For me it has become a significant part of how I choose to articulate myself (more accurately it is the absence of those three little letters--b-u-t--from my vocabulary.) Several years ago my family was participating in some group work and the facilitator suggested that often when we use the word ‘but’, it seemingly negates everything that comes before it. For example, "I love you, BUT you really make me mad." The receiver of those words very likely only hears the second part. What if, however, you were to say, I love you AND you really make me mad? It’s both! See?

My next progression in this particular awakening came when I was in graduate school and I was introduced to the concept of both/and. It took awhile to sink in that this was in contrast with either/or. By working on my personal issues and having the privilege of facilitating dozens of people through their own work, I have been astounded by how ingrained we are with being good or bad and right or wrong. This way of thinking often clouds things so much that we simply can’t see what IS. Does it have to be one or the other? Perhaps it is neither and perhaps it is both. Usually it just IS.

For the purposes of this discussion , I refer back to my recent post which speaks of my paradoxical nature. ("I know God and God knows me AND I must continue to press on to see who God is and who I am.") Which leads me back to where I started here with the amazement at always moving toward ourselves. It’s the journey. Can you see it?

For quite some time now I have been drawn to the concept of paradox. Such as, how can I KNOW God and still be searching to find out who God is? It is both/and…that’s how ☺. So, a couple of weeks ago when I was at my birth chart reading and near the end, the astrologer said, “It is a good chart. It is a hard chart. Everything is BOTH.” I had to smile and say, “Of course” for in that moment I got to understand my personal journey just a bit more clearly. To me it brought more light onto my aversion to using the word “but”, my being drawn to the concept of “both/and” and my continued fascination and need to live with the idea of paradox. My life is good. It is hard. It is both!

Now the cool thing for me is that while I knew all of these ponderings have been stirring around inside me, it was through two comments on my last entry that today's post came into existence.

Tess wrote, “What really struck me about this post was your use of the word AND. "...fully engaged... AND I cherish my solitude." You didn't use the word 'but'... Perhaps part of your work is to continue showing others by your example that deep and enduring balance in life is a creative thing.”

And from Maureen: “entirely 'unique to you' words and thoughts AND words that speak to the searching longing discovering journey of so many of us...given that God desires us to know ourselves that we might know God i clap my hands loudly celebrating your questions and the answers you seek..i want to know more”

I was struck by Tess’ encouragement to share the example of “deep and enduring balance”. I must admit that terrifies me just a bit, AND something about it resonated deeply with my paradoxical nature ☺. We’ll see what happens. Also, Maureen’s connection to the journey and questions invites me to “want to know more” and share more.

So, what do you think? But? Both/and? Paradox? Moving toward ourselves? The floor is open...

lucy's chicks from the bermuda botanical gardens 6.08

7 comments:

H.M. said...

The world I see around me, the life I am living whether I am conscious of it or not...these are "both/and." It is really the way things are mostly. For too long we have been steeped in "either/or" which is so often an illusion.

I am enjoying these glimpses of your journey, friend. :)

lucy said...

h.m.--"illusion" is a really good word for the either/or dilemma (& i would also say the good/bad; right/wrong, too.)

good to hear from you!

Abbey of the Arts said...

I believe that embracing paradox is the natural result of a mature spirituality -- one where grief and suffering have been fully experienced -- and an ongoing deepening experience of the sacred in all things through regular practice and opening of the heart.

And that is why I love art, because art is one of the few places -- poetry too -- where we can rest in the paradox and not have to figure it out. We can simply express the spectrum of our experience and not have to divide ourselves or the divine.

I'll miss you while I am away but can't wait for long conversations about these things when I return!

SUNRISE SISTER said...

First of all, the baby ducklings photos are too cute. “Your” mother may never have allowed you baby chicks or baby ducks at Easter time but my brother and I always had them. They were so darling AND so yucky - at the same time:)

I picked up on your AND theme in your earlier post and in the comments back and forth between you and Tess.... and remembered to take it into my own comments when wishing Christine a blessed journey.

The but/and + moving toward ourselves - makes a lot of sense and I'm grateful you've worked it out for me here in this wonderful post.

Moving towards oneself takes a lot of patience and sighing, for me anyway.....I spent 2 hours with the paintbrushes and glue this afternoon and when asked "how it was going" I said I had spent two hours of work and there was not a successful beginning, end, or middle to what I was doing AND it was two hours of non-production that will make the next session much more meaningful. I actually said that AND I actually meant it.

I find similar instances in the writing, blogging even in commenting. Sometimes my most interesting and productive blogs turn out to have taken days of seemingly totally unproductive efforts AND you know what, if that's what it takes, that's what it takes.

The and/but is a very powerful little bit of knowledge to keep in one's pocket for the appropriate time. Thank you.

lucy said...

christine--thank you for your beautiful thoughts especially the part about art. it goes quite well with SS's recent posts about "why do we create?" i will miss you while you are away AND i celebrate with you as you go pilgrimaging :-)

SS--as a matter of fact, MY mother actually gave me baby chicks one easter in beautiful colors of purple, blue and red :-) only the red one survived the handling...

glad the words re: and/but have been helpful. it's amazing how three little letters can change the whole perspective of things!

keep up the art work. i know it's only getting better and better!!


xoxooxoxxo to you both!!!

Tess said...

I nearly missed this post while gazing adoringly at Curry...
Yes, we were taught to use and instead of but at a management course a few years ago. BUT, in that context, it felt dishonest. The idea was to praise someone in the first part of the sentence so that the criticism in the second wouldn't sound so harsh. Much better to use it in real conversations like the example you give.

lucy said...

oooo, tess...that does feel a bit smarmy (& dishonest) as you describe it. "managing" people? yuk. (it's all too familiar to the corporate world i fled nearly 20 years ago :-)