What lens do you use to make sense of your world...

Tonight, in our on-going conversation about Parker Palmer's Healing the Heart of Democracy, I asked the group:  "What lens - or story - do you use to make sense of your world?"  I suggested that the Jewish/Christian scriptures begin with a worldview shaped by the need to bring order out of chaos. Using the rhythm and wisdom of Sabbath keeping, those who shaped the worship life of 6th century BCE Judaism in Babylon helped their people grasp that God is always at working creating order out of chaos - even when life appears a shapeless void.

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Then I noted that Miles Davis used a different lens - the Dorian mode in Dm - to play with jazz convention in his masterwork, "So What?" and this too gives shape and form to what might otherwise be chaos.  The structure is simple - Dorian for 16 bars, move up a half step for the next 8 bars and then back to Dm for the final 8 - but when you create this foundation for the improvisation of Coltrane, Cannonball Adderely, Miles and Bill Evans ... ooh, la, la mes amies: c'est magnifique!

And with that we were off:  some saw life through the lens of their garden, others used balance to bring life into focus, a few relied on the KISS (keep it simple, sweetie) rule (of as Jesus might say: unless ye become as a child...) and mine had to do with seeing experience through the life, death and resurrection - and now the ascension - of Christ. There are other insights, to be sure, that guide how we process and interpret the meaning of our experiences; tonight we hit upon a few that deserve more attention over the next three weeks.

Palmer uses the metaphor of a broken heart to organize our contemporary life. He asks: do our broken hearts "break apart or break open?  And his lens created another deep conversation about American politics, religion and the search for meaning.  We see a lot of the current fear, scapegoating and mean-spiritedness as hearts break apart.  For as Parker writes: those who are able to help their hearts break open have made a commitment to letting all the "little deaths" life brings to us like disappointment, failure, disease and loss in love help us move beyond ourselves.

How did Jesus put it in Luke 17: 33: Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it?  Dig it...


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