Unexpected blessing – Adam Gopnik

One of the many unexpected blessing from Sunday’s Civil Conversations event was being reintroduced to Adam Gopnik.  What stood out to the organizers was his term “stretching the fabric of tolerance,” which apparently helped form the theme they brought to the evening.  What stirs me, reintroduced to his discussion with Krista, are his thoughts in people over & under 35. Maybe roiled & riled is more on point than stirs.

To Adam, everyone under 35 is still growing, still discovering, still finding themselves, while those who are over are “merely aging rather than actually growing,” “getting a little tubbier, a little grayer, a little balder, a little flatter.” “The under-35s are approaching the mature point.  Us mature ones are approaching our mortal point.”

It might seem weird that I utterly LOVE those comments, yet I do. Would love Adam to do a deep dive into what he means by what he shares, because it’s impossible for me to wrap my head around him actually believing that growth stops in our mid thirties. What I am wildly thankful for in his words, his description, is that it so perfectly captures what many people DO think about aging after a certain age – that it’s flatter than all that came before.

While Adam is right about bodies getting more prone to tubbiness, grey hair & hair loss as we grow into our forties, he goes off track – in my experience – when he addresses the impact on our spiritual intellectual emotional dimensions. Totally off the rails, in my experience, although it does capture a common misconception.

Here’s what I will share with Adam as we share a cuppa somewhere down the road ~ ~ mid-thirtysomethings are like a newly bottled wine, with all the components of a great glass of delectable delight BUT a truly great, complex vintage needs years of aging before its full glory. Some need just a few years to come into their own, others need many; some  turn to vinegar with too many years, while others turn the years into a spectacular savor.

Am WOWed that my original shock at the organizers of Sunday’s Civil Conversations selecting tolerate as the evening’s theme drove me to find the full transcript of Adam’s interview with Krista, to experience his words on aging which so match the misnomers held by so many about a great & glorious experience & time.  A beyond-the-beyond unexpected blessing.



The dingiest DING! – #4

The most swinging, dinging DING! of Sunday’s WOW realizations arrived during that evening’s Civil Conversations event, sponsored by my birth faith, held in the church’s beautiful social hall, a place dear to my heart. I mention that because the room was full of memories for me, as well as a host of people who have been part of my life spanning back to my youngest days. From our moment of arrival, the gathering had a weirdly wonderful funkalicious feel.

The Civil Conversations Project, “planting relationship and conversation around subjects we fight about intensely,” is the brain child of the great Krista Tippett, a major influence over the last year. The opportunity to be connected with it through the church that nurtured me seemed beyond wondrous.

All of which is to say I was super psyched Sunday night to be uplifted & inspired. I did not expect to be shocked.

All week, I’d looked forward to hearing “fresh language to approach each other.” To reviewing the six “grounding virtues” of the Project – – words that matter, generous listening, adventurous civility, humility, patience & hospitality.

It meant the world to me that my once tradition-bound church has loosened up enough to embrace that “change come about at the margins,” that “people in the center are not going to be the big change makers,” as Frances Kissling shared with Krista & is quoted in the Project’s Better Conversationsa starter guide.

John & I walked up to the church building with anticipation & excitement. I’d chewed the poor man’s ear off over the past year, hauling him onto The Retreat or barging into his studio to read this passage or pages, to have him take a listen to an interview.  So much of what I love hearing on Krista’s radio program, On Being, and in her book – thoroughly underlined, pages turned down, sticky notes throughout – Becoming Wise has become part of my spiritual fiber. And now I was about to hear people I deeply care about & wildly respect channeling her in my own birth church. The blue bird of happiness, nesting in my own back yard!

With all those expectations, all the deeply held affection for Krista’s messages about tender-hearted communication, connection, community building, I had not, for a moment, wondered, “What if they go off track, as I understand those rails to be?” That is what, to my stunned shock, happened.

The evening’s large & small conversations were rooted  consideration of the terms TOLERATE, TOLERANCE. My dropped jaw was not over the fact that tolerance is NOT one of the Project’s grounding virtues, but because in everything that I have read & heard, it is a concept that Krista had openly & decisively rejected as too small, too flat, too unfeeling to be more than “a civic tool, but is not big enough in human, ethical spiritual terms.” In what I’ve read, heard, she holds that hospitality, that love are the concepts we need to bring into play to bridge differences with respect, compassion, shared humanity.

There I sat, in ths social hall & later in a small group, at first swept with an all-too-familiar feeling of “Gee, I surely bungled that – got an upside-down message from Krista. What Chuck & Bronwen & Pauline are saying is NOT what I understood. Once again, am out of the loop, woefully out of step.”

It was important to fully feel that, if only for an instant, because it WAS how I all too often felt until a few years back, when an observation by the great Jane Kerschner – life coach par excellence- snapped me out of it. But there that old limitation was, in full, last night, making me feel for an instant like crawling into a hole & pulling the dirt over me.

Except THIS time, that feeling dissipated almost as soon as it was felt. This time, I knew that either Krista has seriously changed her tune over the past year or the presenters had chosen an off-kilter topic as the guiding intention for the introductory evening.

My experiences on Sunday night were not what I expected entering that beloved building, but they were about as ring-a-ding DING! as they come.  I came to appreciate that we tolerate & have tolerance for behaviors -and- love & respect people. That I can respect another’s right to different opinions, even when anathema to me; that even when someone makes my heart sink & my skin crawl, I am honor-bound to recognize our shared humanity.

And I find myself wondering about all those other times across the years, from childhood to last night, when I felt terminally out of the loop, out of step – maybe I wasn’t hopelessly clueless, intellectually whackadoodle.  Maybe I just saw things differently, maybe I was one on the right track. There’s a lot of liberation & unleashing in those maybes.

I did not come away from last night’s event with even a smidgen of what I’d expected, but the greatest, most glorious DING! DING! DING! of my day was precisely what I needed.

Looking forward to the next three New Church LIVE Sunday services, building on last night with conversations on discovering “our voice, as we search for the words that created worlds,” to the Civil Conversation facilitator training on 02/27 & 04/29, to exploring the Passport to Understanding from Interfaith Philadelphia. To nurturing what Brene Brown, in a treasured Krista interview, describes as a strong back, soft front & wild heart. To using tolerance as a civic tool for moving past behaviors, while leaning toward conversation with love.

Continue reading “The dingiest DING! – #4”

Ding! #3 ~ yes,drafts; no, crafts

Sunday afternoon, 4:00 p.m. typically finds us at, Naked Brewing, our local craft brewery, for crafts with the amazing Michelle. Not yesterday.

Yesterday, we were there for a pint of Ground Effects & Missionary Impossible, but NO yarn crafting. Snuggled with John in a super cozy 2-person chair, I didn’t take a single swipe at myself for not joining in, for opting to settle back & watch the creativity unleashed before us. Where I once would have berated myself for being a sluggard – or worse, for being only partially involved –  I savored the show.  FACT: neither of us had the slightest interest in yarn art – although we did come up with some dandy ideas for kitty toys involving yarn & dangly things!

I am grateful to be at a place where I can choose to join in or to watch without self-recrimination. Where I was once a whiz at emotional self-flagellation, now I am a grand master of great times!

To yesterday’s crafters, men & women & kids – we’ll be back among you next Sunday, brandishing scissors & wielding hot glue guns as Michelle steps us through making felt cacti. Thanks for the great show of talent & ingenuity  & for always being part of our creative community!

Ding! #2 ~ blues begone

My sister, Mim, came up unexpectedly in conversation yesterday, during the after-service social gathering. A visitor with no apparent connection to my older sis started singing her praises – turns out her sister is a big fan of mine. And just like having two people two  weeks ago mistake me for her, one with “Oh shit! You’re Mim Lockhart!” (shocked because she is dead), my immediate response was NOT a deep drop to depression & feeling Xed.

Yesterday was an even bigger triumph than two weeks back. Other than bothering me that people didn’t know the difference, since she was eight years older, the frequently made comparison didn’t irk my soul, unlike Mim, who made no bones she considered it the ultimate insult, in spite of the fact that she was many pounds heavier & her trademark style for most of her life was perfectly plain & utterly unstylish.

Mim did many wonderful things for people, especially for young folks. She did some pretty terrific things for me, too – but mine were always baited with a piercing sharp hook.  She was clear I never rated with her. Whether I was eleven or forty or fifty-something, she took pains to make sure I knew her true feelings. I never questioned that what she said wasn’t absolutely true.

Even into my sixties, hearing others praise Mim’s tender loving ways & countless kind considerations knocked the breath right out of me, left me emotionally gutted, invisibled all over again. But here was Jeannie yesterday, getting That Look on her face, using That Voice & Those Words, hushed & awed, and my stomach did not go cold, my heart did not sink, was not bashed by the blues.

Best of all, I have the sense that should something similar happen in the future, I’ll take it in stride without even thinking. ‘Wow – you’ve come a long way baby!” Being okay will just be my norm.

Sounds small, but to have those blues begone is BIG.

Ding! Yes, loves triumphs…

Just not always in real time.

Yesterday’s talk at church was about turning away anger with words of  love. That feels right, but – at least in my experience on both sides – can bea colossal fail.

There have been times I’ve been so burned up at John, my emotions have made mincemeat of my rationality – any attempt by him to talk me down would only have driven me farther over the edge of reason. There have been times that the most loving thing possible was to keep his counsel, saying as little & laying low. Letting me come to my senses.

I’ve had situations with my sibs where attempts to respond verbally with love have totally crashed & burned because how they hear love is different from how I express it.  Still, I did my best to stay in a place of love toward them, trying not to make flummoxed, fractured matters worse. It’s a sure bet they’ve had similar experiences with me!

Mind you, there have been countless times when someone DID turn aside my own distress by showing their love & voicing interest in hearing about my argh.

My John is a master of this – not through statements, but tender inquiry. By gently asking questions, he gets the lay of the land & if its littered with emotional land mines best steered clear of at that time, then circles back later to find out what it was all about. He acts from love.

That was what I tried to share yesterday – whatever we do or do not say to try to talk someone down from a high dudgeon, staying centered in our love WILL ultimately make a difference, even if we never get to see it.

As I’ve experienced life, trying to placate an upset person with tender words of caring compassion love can go hideously wrong. Letting someone who is mightily irked at you know you love him or her might make matters worse. But always staying centered in love, always staying grounded in tender concern for the other, always circling back later to find out what was happening – that is a love language that will triumph, one almost everyone can understand appreciate accept.

02/17/19 ~ mega DING! DING! DING! day

Yesterday reverberated with Ding! Ding! Ding!  Too aha many aha moments to share at once – will give a taste here & savor more fully throughout the day.

My ahas opened up at church, at a brewery & at an evening event. With the exception of one evening awakening, each was more a gentle homecoming than a major revelation. Some involved experiencing longtime situations in a fresh new way, while others flashed out of the blue. Each happened because of being in a particular place where I’d chosen to be.

Ding!s ranged from responding in a wholehearted – not broken – way, to accepting the okayness of not agreeing with concepts being shared as general wisdom, to a brsnd new take on a longtime, limiting trait.

02/17/19 was a great & glorious day where life cracked open & unexpected illumination lit up my mind body soul with grace gratitude joy.

Till there was you

There have been key moments of my adult life when it seemed my energy level shifted & a fresh, different, more ME experience flowed into being. When I fell for John, when Mom reunited with her O Best Beloved, when Mim slipped from us, when I saw “We do family,” when I read The Greatest Salesman in the World (one chapter a month, read multi-times a day).

Without realizing it, in each of those situations, a clear intention paired with at least one elevated emotion to create a freshly cleared pathway welcoming different genuine bodacious.

John was the kick off. I chalked it up to his eyes being the first in which I could see a best self I’d never suspected. Well, a dozen pages into Joe Dispenza’s just published, Becoming Supernatural, things looked different.  See, John completely set my world on its ear. My desire for a wedding that HE (who wanted just a small ceremony, with our mothers our sole  witnesses) enjoyed was my #1 goal – a clear intention teamed with an elevated emotion. Success unexpected in common hours –  John had a ball!

Each point in time where I made quantum leaps forward teamed a clear intention with an elevated emotion.  But it all started – and continues – with my Keet. For thirty years, my intentions within & for our relationship have changed, but each always pairs with an elevated positive emotion, which is why our marriage continues to grow & deepen. The stress & distress are teensy compared to the commitment & hope. From Day One, our love has been both super AND natural.

Beloved – there were bells on the hills, but I never heard them ringing till there was you.