It often happens that everyone will agree that a particular pastor or a church elder will never change their views. But over the years, I’ve noticed that I’m not that good at predicting who will change and who won’t. People’s hearts are moved, and they change their views. And no-one saw it coming.
And so I find myself reflecting on how far I still have to go in becoming open–open to people who seem (to me) to have closed minds, open to people who draw the circle tight and exclude those I care about. The trouble is, if I can’t be open to them, I am them. I’ve closed my mind and drawn a circle around what is possible.
In Kitchen Table Wisdom, Rachel Naomi Remen tells the story of a farmer who had beaten the odds of cancer, despite a dire prognosis.
It wasn’t that he denied the cancer, he just listened to the prognosis the way he listened to the government soil experts. She explains it like this: “As they were educated men, he respected them and listened carefully as they showed him the findings of their tests and told him that the corn would not grow in this field. He valued their opinions, but …[he said], ‘A lot of the time, the corn grows anyway.’”
A lot of the time, people’s hearts are moved….
So I keep asking, what would it look like for me to be open to every one? What might be possible if I could see that spark of light, that bit of gold inside, no matter what meanness they had ever expressed, no matter what they were saying or doing at the moment?