Thursday, 30 April 2020

Walking in the Rain

'Some people walk in the rain. Others just get wet'. These words of wisdom were offered by a friend in response to one of Neil's and my blog posts from the Camino Portugues in 2016. We'd posted a day or more's worth of soggy photos walking in our ponchos, and these words encapsulated some of what we discovered from the experience. It's like Parker Palmer (courtesy of Outward Bound) says: 'If you can't get out of it, then you'd better get into it'.

Well, yesterday morning I decided to go 'walking in the rain' - donning my poncho I walked the path from our place in Bruce, through the bush on O'Connor ridge and down through Lyneham to my office at St Ninian's.

I was able to greet some of the beautiful stands of trees that I love on the ridge, to smell the wet bark and earth, and to celebrate with the quite large families of birds (maggies, choughs, galahs, pee wees, noisy mynahs and currawongs) as they foraged under leaves and amongst the bushes, and sang to themselves and one another.

It struck me then that this piece of rain-related wisdom is a metaphor that could also suggest a way of being towards our current, limiting circumstances. The circumstances are given ... maybe we wish they were otherwise ... But will we just 'get wet'? Or will we 'walk in the rain'? And what might that look like for each of us?

Because of talks I'm giving at the moment for the World Community for Christian Meditation, on the shape of Christian virtue, I've been thinking along these lines about the virtue of 'obedience'. I know this is a 'virtue' that has extremely mixed press, and is vulnerable to corruption and abuse. But I guess what interests me in it is the sense in which it speaks (when understood carefully) to the possibility of genuinely accepting 'the is-ness of things', even where 'what is' is unchosen and even painful.

This 'genuine acceptance' doesn't mean things should not change, or that we can't hope for a different reality. But the insight is that real, transformative change cannot begin from the place of resistance. And if we can bring ourselves actively to embrace, accept, 'be obedient' to the given and hold ourselves open there, then this creates a space that grace can enter and transform. This is not an easy practice - in fact, sometimes it's intensely painful. But it is an energetic state from which shifts the quality of our responsiveness, and from which we may discern new and creative possibilities for action.

Whether this invitation to be 'obedient' to or radically to accept the given, to 'walk in the rain', touches something about ourselves or our circumstances. something about the systems we're part of, something about the state of the world, I wonder what working with the energy of this could make available for us and our communities this week?


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