This has been the most disturbing American election in my memory. A lot has come up – the widening gap between rich and poor, racial injustice, our collective lack of healthy sexuality as a culture, misuse of governmental position, the demonizing of opponents, and much more . . . The good news is that a lot of what needs work and healing has risen to the surface. Lincoln-style honesty and respect could foster healing that could then lead to something much better for everyone.
In the Tao te Ching, the Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu had a lot to say about true leadership:
A sound leader’s aim
Is to open people’s hearts
Fill their stomachs,
Calm their wills,
Brace their bones,
And clarify their thoughts and cleanse their needs
That no cunning meddler could touch them . . .
Lao-Tzu, Tao te Ching
There are a lot of gray areas this election, but the spirit with which we move is more important than anything else. Fear breeds fear; disrespect falsely legitimizes disrespect; integrity inspires integrity; empathy nurtures compassion; and love makes way for love (though sometimes it is after love has been rejected – that’s when we realize how precious love is and long for it again).
Things have been much worse in America, especially during the Civil War. It’s why Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address was more of a sermon than a political speech, and why it left people speechless:
"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."
We can rise to this occasion as a country. We have been through much harder times and came out better for it. The main thing is to move with the right spirit.
More power to you this next week. Probably the most important thing any of us can do is pray about our vote for real, listen to the better voices inside us and then vote. In my view, the spirit with which our next president moves is by far the most important issue this election. Political pendulums swing back and forth but the framework of democracy must be woven with respect or it will unravel. And when it comes to the idea of revolution, history is clear - unless they are against outside oppression, revolutions don't redistribute wealth, they redistribute poverty. We should seek to work together not against each other. Our common interests vastly outweigh our differences.
Whatever we do, let’s move with a sense of honor - for ourselves, other people, our country and the ways of love itself. God can work with that. God always has and always will.
Thanks for journeying together.
David started looking for hidden treasures a few years ago starting in his own fields. He got better and better at it and in 2014 he found a pure gold Lunula - an ancient crescent-moon necklace from the Bronze Age now worth about $25,000. Of the find, he said: “I was amazed. You never expect to find a lump of gold. It’s something you dream of, the find of a lifetime.”1
Reading his story struck me in a couple of ways: I love the "finding treasure in our own fields" part. It hearkens back to Jesus inviting us to discover the treasure hidden in our relationship with God and the kingdom of heaven. But I also noticed that David regarded what he found as merely a "lump of gold." Given beliefs from the Bronze Age, the piece probably had great spiritual significance to it's maker and or wearer. That's why it was made of gold. He'd have to be open to those perspectives if it were to convey any of that kind of value to him (and to give him credit, maybe it does - the interview was very short and focussed on monetary value, which is the norm of our society today).
It made me think about how leaders of 4th century Rome took the early Christian movement and tried to make it more practical and institutional. Over time the message was, "Believe, fall in line and you're in." Being "Christian" became more and more of an arrangement than a personal way of life. In some ways, the Reformation took that thinking even further with its emphasis on belief over works. Faith was all but reduced to a list of "beliefs." As long as you had the "right" beliefs, you were promised a "Get out of jail free card." In context, the intentions of leaders leading these movements may have been mostly good. But the ironic result was to further de-emphasize actually living Jesus' way and truth of love as a life path. It took on the feel of a deal rather than a discipline for getting to loving (that's what discipleship is all about). Doing what it takes to uncover the treasure in one's own field was devalued. Golden opportunities like a genuine, heartfelt prayer life became seen as niceties, and eventually, nuisances that get in the way of getting things done. The Protestant work ethic came to overshadow the opportunities of a heartfelt, love-centered faith ethic. Many Christians missed the treasure in their own field, as many are today.
The rest that works is a tried and true way to uncover treasures hidden in the field of your real life - your personal relationship with the Living God, your personality, the people in your life, the world around you and the Creative Forces of God that bring out the Wonder of it all through love. As we live more in contact with those things, it is much easier to get to loving as we go. We find ourselves more in Love as a way of being - and that feels great.
If you're like me, your personal way into a greater adventure with the Mystery of God and Loving is probably right under nose. As we say "yes" to the Creative Forces of God within us - often hidden in our creative desires - they lead us to points of contact with ancient spiritual truths and ways (much as how by following a simple desire, David found a mysterious, ancient, pure gold, crescent moon - talk about an interesting find!). Riches way beyond money greet us as we open gifts hidden right under our noses.
More power to you in your treasuring. I hope that the rest that works helps you find the treasure of your lifetime. Thanks for journeying together!