Friday, October 05, 2007

Item 4 Peoples is Peoples

Dear Steve, with a special thanks to Dave (who couldn't bowl too well) and Walker Percy,

I do not have to tell you this, yet I was reminded of it during a book study with your old buddy, metaphorically known here as Forest Old-Rambler-Model. We are looking at the book Lost in the Cosmos by Walker Percy. In it there is a section that talks about how a characteristic of some people is to sense that they are transcendent, that they can understand others but others cannot understand them.

Now, I can't say for sure that I "transcend" the text enough to know what Walker Percy is trying to say, but I do remember an incident from my life when I was your age. I went bowling with a man, perhaps now I would call him a boy. We went bowling. I bowled better than he did. That rankled him. I suppose, in that era, I was expected to gutter a few so that the male of the species in this coupling could crow and strut, et al. However, this post is not about feminism. It is about human dynamic. The incident was enough to make this guy say what was on his mind about me. He told me, "You are so proud and think that you are better than everyone else."

I received that blow full-face. What? Who was this punk? I understood his kind. He didn't even make good grades in school. I had consented to go bowling with him, not because I was interested in him, but because I was being nice to him. I transcended him, didn't I? And did he appreciate it? "NO." He insulted me.

There are some things, some events, even hurtful ones, that a person takes and ponders, and keeps tenderly, respectfully in one's heart. For me, this was such an event. I don't know if I have ever verbalized what happened that night to anyone before. I was ashamed. I still am, for I still fall prey to the tendency described by Percy in his book. We stop listening to other people. We put them in a box of our own imaginings, thinking that we transcend them, and we no longer hear what they are saying, pay attention to what they are doing, or are willing, on the basis of input from a relationship with another human revelator--or as Percy might call them, co-namer, co-sustainer, co-discoverer, co-sign-user of our world--change ourselves on the basis of information they can provide.

I don't have to tell you this, because you have not stopped listening to other people. That is one of your special gifts. Perhaps it is what makes you an effective leader. You are a bit like Kermit. Willing to hear and willing to change and willing to lead. We need Peoples like you in our world. Not listening, not being open to others is a form of pride, and it makes leaders unfit to lead.

In contrast to people who practice transcendency, I think about the life and teaching of Henri Nouwen. Here are a couple of comments from his books,
“Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure.”

“The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing... not healing, not curing... that is a friend who cares.”
Nouwen lived pretty incarnationally, and the older he got the more he lived that way. I think that is a good way to live.

Tell you what is, "There's tomatoes huh, there's peoples, there's dancing, there's music, there's peoples. So, peoples is peoples." I know that helps a lot.

MOM aka brd

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