By Lianne Thompson
“Don’t be in an argument with reality,” they said. “Look for the blessing in this moment,” they told me.” “Get over yourself,” was the final bit of advice. All offer good ways to approach life.
All of them require surrender, a vulnerability derived from confidence that allows a quiet mind to observe and treasure the gift in the moment. On good days, that’s a process like a Synchromesh transmission in a 1955 Oldsmobile: smooth and easy.
Some days it’s like a worn out, rusted out, bound-for-the-junk-yard piece-of-stuff vehicle that grinds and screeches and fights me every step of the way.
My family were working class and working middle class people, and they’d grown up around farm animals. They knew the smells of a barnyard full of chicken droppings. They knew the smell and substance of barns with stalls to be cleaned, their backs put every single day into shoveling manure.
When they said, “If you find yourself on a dung heap, look for the rose,” they had a literal pile of animal waste, not a metaphor, in mind.
My life isn’t lived as a farm wife, so the wisdom from my farming family means something different today than when they raised me up. Today it means to translate their literal reality into my emotions and rational thought processes as I work. It transfers to my communication, all day every day as I serve you.
Turning garbage and waste into compost that nourishes growth is still the best way to approach human existence, I think. We’re all animals, we all eat, and we all excrete. Sometimes we produce beauty, joy, goodness, and progress. Sometimes we still have a way to go to generate the processes and interactions that create fruitful growth. We can have some ugly conflicts along the way.
As I listen and learn from every single person who communicates with me, I’m blessed. I’m looking for the gold in what you say to me, in writing and in person. I try to give you my gold in return. Gold is the joyful collaboration of humans in our relationships.
Sometimes it takes some shoveling to find the gold. Sometimes the rose isn’t immediately visible. Nevertheless, if we can find the confidence to be vulnerable and surrender to considering another person’s reality, the quality of our listening to each other improves.
No matter what, it’s in how tenderly and generously we can listen to each other that creates the beauty and joy in each other and in each moment. Please help me cultivate good listening in our neighborhoods and community meetings, in our public bodies and our friendships.
I’d like to promise you a rose garden, but I can only offer the vision and the hope. Let’s create it together, with patience and kindness.