14 June 2011


WEEK TWO. conversation by clair and sister chris

"Drink all your passion,
and be a disgrace.
Close both eyes
to see with the other eye".

 ~ ~ ~

I can see no better way to be disgraceful!
As for closing eyes, one deafblind man I used to work with had no sight at all but used to say: I can see far more with my third eye. He meant his spiritual eye. I think when we can see around us perfectly, we don’t always see – really see! I agree with Rumi that we have to close our eyes and allow that other eye to see.
Sister Chris

...i think rumi might mean, by the line 'drink all your passion and be a disgrace'  not to worry what other people think, be yourself, your very unique and true being...where 'disgrace' means not to be approved of by the next person...but to be truely acceptable to you yourself and in line with your own principles...

its interesting that i should write to you around this rumi line, (i hadnt pre-looked at the line before i asked if you would like to write) .... you being a nun...because as i read it i too thought of drinking and general headinism...and thought oh ! ...but then on looking again i felt the sentiment above...

the other  thing that happened yesterday is that a new friend of mine brought me two gifts that he had found, a pair of trainers and a bible...he said 'to protect'  i said 'is it a christian bible?', he said 'yes, it doesnt matter, it will just protect'.  he grew up in a musilim culture.

i dont feel to belive in organised religion and i thought recently that i belive more in a god with two o's  - 'good'...  though this can be hard to define ...

Dear Clair,
This is my response:
I like what you say about being unique and not worrying about approval. If we are unique and already “approved of” in our uniqueness, then we don’t need to look for approval. But I think we need to live up to our uniqueness, not use it as an excuse for behaving badly.
I think God already has 2 o’s. But he has 1 o as well. I love the idea of being given a Bible and a pair of trainers to protect, and even more special being given them by a Muslim. He didn’t give you the Koran; he gave you the Bible.
I don’t think you can go far wrong if you believe in Good, Clair.
Sister Chris 

is god definatley a 'he' for you?  and does 'he' have a face or does he look like energy and what in colour? 

i have realised that belief in itself is exceptionally strong, strong enough infact to create...

Dear Clair,
God is “he” to me, mainly because I feel secure with that image. He doesn’t really have a face, but He is a kind and loving force, whose love I could always be sure of if nobody else in the world loved me.
I think belief creates, but belief is faith, and we can’t explain it. I don’t believe my faith could create a being as strongly in my mind if such a being didn’t exist. I’m so glad you’re talking about faith in our conversation, because I always fight shy of the subject, believing it to be intrusive in many people’s lives.
Thank you, Clair!
Sister Chris

god sounds like a positive force in your life and one that creates a lot of harmony and community...but so often i see religion segregate and divide people and nations (as much as unite them) and it is this that i find difficult.
community in our culture, and in my opinion, lacks ever so greatly and religion is one way place community can be nurtured and held and for this, it is aplaudable.  loneliness, unlike draught, seems unmathimatical...as there are soooo many people!! ...its like a tsunami where in yet everyone is so crazily thirsty !

Hello Clair!
I think religion is used as an excuse for war and division. At the heart of every religion there is peace, unity, and a good routine for a fruitful life. But then you get extremists. They give religion a bad name. They mention it, but they don’t mean it – they don’t live it!
I agree totally about loneliness. Yes, people are crazily thirsty! Society encourages independence. You haven’t made it socially until you’re independent … even if you’re 90. You have to stay in your own place and get someone coming in twice a day. Other than that, life is lonely. Computers tell us to keep separate. Go on facebook, but don’t go out and meet the person. Send them an email even if you could turn round and talk to them! I believe in community. I think it’s what we’re about. When we were looking for a house to move to, we looked around for the greatest area of need. Where could we fit in? Where could we do some good for the people around us? Okay, we live in a Vicarage which isn’t the smallest of houses. We have a garage that I just keep the garden tools in. But the man opposite doesn’t have a garage and he likes to do DIY, so the garage is his when he needs it. It’s lovely to reach out into the community. That’s what I think faith is all about. It’s not just praying for people – it’s putting that prayer into practise.
Sorry to go on, Clair. I hope you’re not yawning. I shall miss our conversations when the week is over.
My love and best wishes,
Sister Chris

yes, ive been considering recently that our society seems to be strangely invested in creating fear in us, and i speak specifically about  fear around strangers.  from a very early age society teaches us 'unknown people fear'....our parents begin by teaching this to us which they themselves were taught, our 'teachers' teach the same and our media also... almost investing in keeping us apart form each other.

have you heard about couch surfing?  its a worldwide community who lend their sofas/spare rooms/homes/free time, to people who are travelling and wish to stay with them for free.  in this way, strangers stay in each others houses/homes. couch surfers then give those they put up and those they were put up by, reference's, and which go on their profile.   for me,  this is an example for the massive breaking down of this conditioned stranger fear thinking. .

of course, i understand that sometimes people do cruel things, but my suggestion is that this issue is not helped by a society who protects us by keeping us apart and who teaches distrust and aloneness.  my implication being, that in some way, this teaching of fear thinking (in the name or disguise of  protection), is actually acting to promote anti social behaviour... a society that expects and teaches that people are going to be hurtful (and hurt), to rage or to murder, creates exactly this, the side effect being a massive lacking in community spirit, separatness, anziety, depresion, lonelyness, sadness, unnurture and unfullfillment

Dear Clair,
I think what you’ve written – particularly the last paragraph – is a brilliant description of what society conditions us to be like and the effects. I didn’t know about couch surfing, but you know, as I was reading it I was thinking: “I don’t know how I would feel about that. If I didn’t know the person …” That’s exactly what we’re taught to think from very young children. But in fact, we have a spare room here to put people up. We usually know them, but people sometimes just contact us from the internet. Some of them give us a donation, but others just stay and we don’t worry. We just consider that some people are able to be more generous, and so it covers for the people who stay for nothing.
I think there are all the feelings you mentioned when people are not used to being part of a community or accepted by it: separateness, anxiety, depression – a lack of confidence too, I think. And just not knowing how to be part of a wider family. I think it does lead into crime, rage and even the desire to murder – to get back at this community in which they have no part. I heard of somebody stealing, because he felt nothing but anger for the whole of society, and he had no worry about hurting or damaging the people he was stealing from. When he went to prison, he discovered a whole community for the first time in his life!
Deep, deep, deep! We have quite a lot in common, Clair, that we wouldn’t have discovered without these conversations.
My best wishes,
Sister Chris
i am almost charmed by the idea that this man discovers community on being put in prison.
light shines brighter around every shadow.
i remember a friend of mine saying that it is only when something breaks, his washing machine doesnt work or his house is leaking that he has the need to reach out to community, to re-engage and to be part of..

within our society individual flats, houses and  all this technology offer great sanctuary, safety and convience but all too often, with the hefty price tag of a lonely world.
thank you for writting with me sister chris. 
a  real pleasure
clair :)

Dear Clair,
I don’t know if I’m supposed to respond or whether we have come to the end of our week. But I’m responding just to be on the safe side. I think high rise buildings are a good means of isolation. When I lived in Birmingham , they began pulling them down and building neat little houses with miniature front gardens. But this was only because people were being followed into lifts and assaulted. One lady was killed by a man who had followed her into her own front door. But this is why they pulled the flats down – not because people had already said they were isolated and lonely and frightened and away from the rest of community, but because somebody had been killed!
Why can isolation not be a good enough reason? Why do people have to see community only from 20 floors up? Why do they have to look down on it like some stranger from another planet? It’s their community – our community!
I’m preaching in Church tomorrow, Clair! I reckon I’m practising for it now!
It’s a real pleasure writing with you too!
Sister Chris

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