Last Week On Facebook:
Last weekend, Rev. Cindy Worthington-Berry, a Facebook friend and colleague, posted news about The Islamic Center of Boston. She wrote “they received ugly and threatening mail that spoke of cleansing America of Muslims.”
I would cry, but I’m too busy turning despair into hope, and hope into constructive action.
I’ve seen people attempt to drive out hate with hate. I’ve seen people try and worry themselves into feeling better. None of that works. I’d rather come up with a better plan, a plan grounded in radical love, a love that renders my ego senseless.
I’d rather come up with A Parable:
In spiritual parables, water often represents consciousness, a state of mind.
If water is consciousness, then the consciousness of racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, and other fear-based ideologies is like ice – hard, rigid, immovable, and impenetrable. Imagine a really big block of ice and name it the consciousness of hatred.
Now imagine your knee-jerk-reaction to hatred. You’re afraid of it, so you hate it back. You hate the haters. You hate yourself for your helplessness. You’re desperate to use your hatred to eradicate their hatred.
These thoughts pretend to help you, but they freeze your mind and create your own block of rigid ice. These thoughts create superficial boldness. You say, “I’ve got this big block of icy hatred too, so now I can take action.” Fueled by outrage, you get a fork -lift. You hoist your block of ice into a dump truck. You road-rage yourself over to the original block of ice and you dump your ice on their ice, your hatred on their hatred.
The result: a bigger pile of ice. A bigger pile of hatred.
That didn’t work. So you wait and wonder; and something new begins to awaken within you.
Humbled, you load your slightly chipped ice back into your dump truck. You drive home and begin to meditate. You think about Parker Palmer who teaches “A hidden wholeness in everything.” Could there be wholeness hidden in the broken-heart of hatred? How can the hidden wholeness become wholeness revealed? Can something within you melt the fear and hatred you see around you? What needs to awaken and emerge? Is it the discovery that the dis-empowerment of hatred occurs through your choice for radical love?
Your contemplation evokes a miracle.
The ice in your personal dump truck melts. Soon you have a truckload of warm water that pulsates with aliveness. Now you can do something real. Now you drive back over to the block of hate-ice. You pour your consciousness of awakened water over it. You repeat this process several times. The ice melts. It becomes life-giving water. You gather the water and share it with others, with the trees, the animals, and the flowers. The Garden of Eden, heaven on earth, is restored. Your healing becomes our healing….
The Parable Applied:
This story teaches that just as ice can’t eradicate ice, hatred applied to hate multiplies hate.
The shadow of hatred may rise up. But we can transcend icy hatred by releasing old patterns and asking new questions.
We ask, “How can we be a true force for good in this situation? How can we avoid the temptation to confront people who will only dig in and hate more in response to direct confrontation? How do we circumvent the ego’s need for a fight and move into a paradox of love in the face of enmity?
These questions warmed my consciousness as I contemplated the hate mail, the Mosque, and how to be a healing presence in response.
I wanted to do it too, but I often second guess my good intentions. People seem so sensitive right now, and critical. I didn’t want to appear like I was giving certain groups my “stamp of approval,” like I have the power to endorse. In my mind we all belong, we’re all equal endorsers.
I needed more information, so I reached out. I emailed my friends, The Interfaith Amigos, a Muslim Imam, a Jewish Rabbi, and a Christian Pastor. I wanted their feedback on the Love Mail project. The Amigos spoke at our Spiritual Center several years ago. I was touched by their kindness and wisdom. I knew they would give me expert advice.
All three Amigos wrote back to me.
Imam Jamal wrote: “[The] idea of countering with love mail is the best response. Your local mosques would love to hear from you. If you and your congregation let them know that you stand by them in these trying times, they will experience healing and empowerment. Mosque members will be inspired to reach out to you to engage in collaborative programs. It is critical at this time for groups who share kinship of spirit to bond in friendship and action. In view of the climate of anti-Semitism, local synagogues would also be delighted to hear from you.”
Pastor Don wrote: “Identifying communities including Muslims, Jews, people of color and even just saying that you are glad they are here would be a wonderful thing, a healing thing, a reassuring thing. I am going to suggest this to my church.”
Rabbi Ted wrote: “Bless you, and bless all the peacemakers, no matter what faith, what ethnicity, what politics, what gender, what age, what income, what race… Bless the peacemaker that yearns to be born through each and every one of us!”
Plus, Imam Jamal called me his sister. Now that made me cry. Tears of joy.
So we’re joining Reverend Cindy and sending Love Mail. We’re following the advice of the Interfaith Amigos and sending to a mosque, a synagogue and an African American church.
If you would like to participate, here is a sample letter:
Our congregation has heard the recent news of hate mail sent to places of worship. When the shadow rises up, we choose to counter hatred with light and love. So in response to actual or potential incidences of hate mail, we have chosen to pro-actively send Love Mail.
This Love Mail lets you know we cherish diversity. We support you, for you are precious to us. We stand beside you in peace and understanding.
Let us trust that our shared devotion to one another has the power to change the world for good.
Please let us know if we can serve in any other way.
P.S. If you would like to extend the power of your love, please feel free to share these words widely!
Love Mail may seem like a small thing. There will be people who say “Yeah, it’s a nice idea, but it won’t really fix anything.” There will be naysayers who will do nothing because sending Love Mail feels too tiny. Some may be downright critical.
We can waste a lot of time wondering whether these folks are correct; or we can criticize them for their complacent negativity.
Instead, let’s just pinch their little pessimistic cheeks, and love them too.
We understand. It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of hatred. But we are more powerful than we know. And we can do something radically helpful with that power.
So let’s get busy. Let’s reveal the wholeness hidden in brokenness. Let’s be the delivery system for radical love. Let’s melt some ice and send some mail, each of us, starting today.