Feeling Tired and Weary

Living Table is a part of New Branches

Outdoor New Branches sign "A home for faith and community" - Depicting Spirit Catholic Community, Lake Nokomis Lutheran, and Living Table UCC; image licensed for Living Table's use

“The more you know about another person's story, the less possible it is to see that person as your enemy.”  - Parker Palmer

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Dear Friends,

In his book, Healing the Heart of Democracy*, Parker Palmer said, “The more you know about another person’s story, the less possible it is to see that person as your enemy.”

Palmer’s wisdom resonates with me as I continue to integrate and practice Jesus’ Ground Rules – especially this week’s instruction at the heart of all the rest: Love your enemies and pray for those who hurt you.”

After three weeks of attempting to unpack and daring to digest the cultural complexities and the implications of just four of Jesus’ teachings, I sense some of us are feeling the weight of how difficult it is to practice the teachings in relationships with others and in relationship with our selves. The bulk of the work IS indeed an inside job!

In keeping with that truth, I invite you to read Irene Sipos’ poem, Tired, from two perspectives. Let it sink in as written. Then imagine seeing yourself across the aisle on the B train . . . Just notice what comes up for you.

Sitting across the aisle
on the B train
I look at the row of weary faces

various shapes, sizes, colors, ages,
a horizontal explication of what it means
to have woken many mornings

to brave routine, to leave concerns at home
along with scattered laundry and unwashed
dishes to head for same/same at work.

I picture each of you, one at a time. I try to
observe without you knowing and suddenly I
see round, soft faces, no creases in foreheads,

no wrinkles like parentheses around eyes, no down-
turned mouths, no slumped shoulders. I see the plump
babies you once were. And with that, a rush of hoping

that you were affectionally held on generous laps, that
you were sung tender songs, that you were offered
a bowl of blueberries as initiation to the messy pleasures

of this world. I hope that occasionally you reach back,
even if only briefly to recall your beginning self as a
visitor new to the planet, unencumbered and dear.

*Parker J. Palmer, Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit

**Irene Sipos, Tired (Irene Sipos taught composition at SUNY Buffalo State and later was a full-time lecturer in the College Writing Program prior to her recent retirement. She is a native Buffalonian who completed her graduate work in American literature at the University at Buffalo with Robert Creeley and Leslie Fiedler. Her work has appeared in many publications including Earth’s Daughters, Lilth magazine, the Comstock Review, and in the anthologies Buffalo Book of Poetry, Buffalo Poets Against War and A Celebration of Western New York Poets.)

About Elaine Kirkland

Rev. Elaine Kirkland was the sabbatical pastor for Living Table UCC during Summer 2022.

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