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Eric's Sunday Sermon; Dead Set In Thinking
If we are not looking for the sunlight we will not find it.
Openness of Closed?
There are two types of mindsets in general. One that is firmly entrenched in a way of thought or decision and one that is open to alternatives. Usually it is seen as issue based. But in fact it is about our way of looking at ourselves in the world. Let us be clear this is not just a concept from one person to another but separate parts of each of us within us.
When was the last time you had a conversation with someone about current politics and it went like this. “I like candidate X on this issue but I like candidate y on that issue”? Somehow these days we are not supposed to, pc wise, think like that. We are to pick a candidate and love them and hate the other one. For some reason we are supposed to be firmly committed to one side of all the issues. Somehow “I am thinking about that and evaluating all the sides of the issue” is just not acceptable.
This is a problem and it runs deep. I just have a hard time finding even good friends who can argue about issues looking for answers rather than defending or attacking based on already decided firmly held beliefs. Now do not get me wrong firm conviction to something is a good thing in general, or rather should I say, in specific but not in general. I believe there is much truth in the adage: You must stand for something or you will fall for anything. But there is another adage that one must always keep in mind: Contempt prior to investigation is a fault.
You can see the problem here. We must stand firm in what we believe in. Yet we must remain open to new ideas. An interesting question is seldom asked here. “Why should we remain open to new ideas?” I think most people just take that for granted when the idea is put in front of them. Of course the notion makes sense but it is one of those things that is easier said than done. Most of us have a hard time living by this standard.
Weather reminds us that change is constant
What remains the same?
Can I afford not to take a second look?
Here is an interesting thing to consider. An adult walks down a community sidewalk and notices the big stuff around. Probably mostly thinking of other matters as they stroll in a safe environment. They really do not particularly notice the details of the small stuff as they pass by. They basically assume all is normal and move along with that assumption. But take that walk with a five year old. Oh my! You will be stopping and discussing and investigating the smallest flowers, cracks in the sidewalk, bugs and all manner of things worthy of inquiry and discussion. This is not to say that the adult is jaded or that the five year old is wise to notice all that is around. We look at it here to remind us that our assumptions of what has always been does not mean that it is not worth looking at again with a fresh set of eyes. In fact the details of life are constantly changing and those details make up the fabric of our overall view.
What am I to make of my religion? Am I to have learned some lessons well and then that is it? Did I decide in 1998 what it means to love my neighbor as myself and now that concept requires no more inquiry and adjustment. It is both exhausting and exhilarating to know that all things change in time. Living in the moment does not preclude forward looking or backward looking reflection. Of course I must stay open to changes in me. What was true of my body at 35 is truly not so true at 55. What was true having one child that is 3 years old is not at all the same as having several and in their 30’s. And so it is that my relationships change. Certainly my relationship with God is not at all the same as it was when I was a head strong college student with more answers than questions.
At our dinner table just last night my heart was filled with joy. My wife who was dead set on one candidate due to a history of support, was now making realistic inquiry as to a facet of a platform of a different candidate. To me the candidates made nearly no difference. It was the openness to discuss and investigate a new possibility that made me glad.
A fun one for me at my age is Pluto. Of course Pluto is a planet. It has been my whole life! How dare some stupid scientists tell me that on full analysis and investigation it indeed is not a planet? Finally I had to break down and learn of the fine distinctions being made. I think I get it now. Truth be told I still giggle to myself and demand that it is a planet. But alas in the planet science set I got for my young son there was no Pluto. Do not worry. I took the time to explain it all to my son. He ended up patting me on the shoulder in consolation of the loss of my firmly held belief.
Every flower was once a bud
A song for thought
Blessings to you.
There is a very interesting place for people with spirituality. It can be somewhat described as where the brain meets the heart and soul. We are in fact a functioning trinity of sorts within us. There really is not a fine line or clear distinction between things like knowledge, feelings and faith. In fact in healthy people there is a oneness of the three. A difference but not a separation. One only has to look and observe someone with no spirituality to see that a “lack of” creates a less than whole. Something missing shows us clearly what is there in us. I raise this point of our parts to bring into focus our need for openness in thought. When we close down our reception to learning something new we create a wall between the parts of our wholeness.
How can my thoughts be receptive to my heart and connection with my God if they are shut down to something different? If I am dead set in an opinion then I must build a barrier to feelings and belief that are ever changing and transforming. Can we really build a wall around one thought and leave a door open to new thought – of what use then is the wall? Why would we want to block out new possibilities?
Maybe having things set in stone is a form of security. I know that when some decision is bothering me there is a relief when I finally make up my mind and stick to it. Perhaps that little reality is at the core of why we become dead set in our understandings. It just gets uncomfortable questioning our own beliefs. If I am set and happy in my daily routines and do not like change, just think about how much I resist changing my mental routine. But I learned long ago that variety is the spice of life. Now if I can just get over the fear of tasting it. Let us go forth with openness of mind and heart so we don’t miss out on anything this world has to offer.