Relationship

Another beautiful day in South Central PA, the kind of Indian summer weather that draws one outdoors and invites happy thoughts and spontaneous bursts of gratitude!   Even so, I struggle to stay focused on this present moment.  Perhaps it’s as someone once observed, “Growth means change, and change involves risk, stepping from the known to the unknown.”  It can be so much easier to stay stuck in our dysfunction than reaching for the unknown, even if the future promises good things.

I am so grateful that my husband’s death opened me to the importance of letting go of my need to be in control.  During his last months, we watched him let go of first this and then that.  With each act of letting go, he became gentler, softer, and more responsive to the little things of life.  There was rarely a day or night he didn’t say “thank you.”  For any of you who knew him, you will remember that he was a bit of a control freak and could obsess about things that didn’t work out the way he had hoped.  But then, all of us have issues with control.  I suspect that letting go is one of the major tasks we face as seniors…part of the way we prepare for our deaths and our journey into the ultimate unknown.

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This morning, after coming in from my morning walk and sharing breakfast with my delightful walking partner, I reread several pages in The Shack that had caught my attention over the weekend.  I am well aware that the book is one man’s understanding of God, The Trinity, and Christian theology, but being challenged by his ideas is what keeps me reading. I feel for those who only want to read things that make them feel comfortable and safe since I have come to value things that challenge me and open me to new awareness and understanding.  I have to confess, however,  that I have never really grasped the church’s teachings about The Trinity.  Paul’s emphasis on The Trinity as a circle of relationships with no beginning and no ending helps, but…..

At one point in the story, when Mac and Papa are talking about the ways we humans limit ourselves by relying on authority figures and chains of commands, Papa says,” We have no concept of final authority between us, only unity.  We are a circle of relationship, not a chain of command or ‘great chain of being’ as your ancestors termed it.  What you are seeing here is a relationship without any overlay of power. We don’t need power over the other because we are always looking out for what is for the best. Hierarchy would make no sense among us.  Actually, that is your problem,  not ours … Humans are so lost and damaged that to you, it is almost incomprehensible that people could work and or live together without someone being in charge

Then Jesus chimes in,   “That’s one reason why experiencing true relationship is so difficult for you. Once you have a hierarchy, you need rules to protect and administer it, and then you need law, and the enforcement of the rules, and you end up with some kind of chain of command or system of order that destroys relationship rather than promotes it.  You rarely see or experience relationship apart from power…”

To which Sarayu (The Holy Spirit) adds, “When you choose independence over relationship, you become a danger to each other.  Others become objects to be manipulated or managed for your own happiness.  Authority, as you usually think of it, is merely the excuse the strong use to make others conform to what they want.”

While more is said, if you are like me, that’s enough for one time. I simply find it almost incomprehensible to conceive how free choice and relationship can replace the need for well-defined structures. As I ponder my fears and lack of trust,  I will keep praying, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know that is me!”

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