Sometimes I think that we all need universal translators when we are trying to understand each other across cultures, belief systems, and personal social locations.
Often, though, it takes someone yelling at us to knock us out of our system of thinking and gives us the ability to see things in a new and visionary way that connects rather than divides. All too often we cannot get to this point because we walk away when we things are uncomfortable, challenging, or abrasive.
And no doubt, abrasive is yucky. Witness: the US government interactions right now.
What to do?
Enter deeply into the story of the other person. This is a spiritual practice. I call it Extreme Accompaniment (should I trademark that?). I was contemplating this further today as I was researching another article. My reading revealed to me that we get to radical acceptance of the other when:
- Everyone goes to uncomfortable places
- Step outside of social norms, forget what you think you know about the other
- Everyone involved becomes open to conversion
- Keep dialoguing past the rhetoric and abrasiveness
- Then, transformation and acceptance may occur (Congress, are you listening??)
Of course, there are limitations. You should not be in situations that may cause harm. But I am more and more convinced that this deep listening is a spiritual practice. And it is a practice that our world does not do well right now. It is up to the artists and the contemplatives to lead a new revolution! A revolution of extreme accompaniment or of walking with other people. A practice of deeply listening and working with the other’s deepest desires. A practice of loving each other. Love is the universal translator.
If we listen and love, maybe we will all be able to see past the space debris and see the cosmos in each other’s souls.
Shalom and Amen,
© 2013, post , Terri Stewart, All rights reserved
REV. TERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)
Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at www.cloakedmonk.com, www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk. To reach her for conversation, send a note to email@example.com