happy ash wednesday, my friends. you may or may not celebrate the beginning of lent, but i wish you a happy ash wednesday anyway. for me, this day marks the beginning of a very reflective journey of 40 days. a time each year when i reflect on who i am. on my mortality. my ability to love. my dreams. and question if i am living life to the fullest. but, enough about that today. i’ll tell you more about my plans for my lenten journey this year on friday.
today is the day that i dedicate to finding inspiration in the wisdom of the dalai lama’s 18 rules for living. and this is week four! already! ok. here we go…
#5: learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
wow. that’s deep. and intense and leaves me with lots of questions and thoughts… the first one being something that a friend and mentor once told me when i was working in the church. he told me that if someone was mad at me, then i was being an effective leader.
that’s super true. a good leader is not loved by everybody. she often offends others by the decision she makes. or he makes someone mad because they don’t agree with his opinions and thoughts. it’s so true, you know? if everyone loves me and is all gushy, lovey-dovey with me, then all i am doing is spending my time pleasing people. the dalai lama seems to suggest that good leadership involves being a little bit edgy and radical.
living outside the box:
i mean, radical love and forgiveness is actually offensive you know. non-violence pisses people off. it’s much easier to know what people expect, follow society’s rules, and do what people want. it is much more difficult to be aware of the rules and society’s expectations, and then turn the other cheek. or love unconditionally. or accept all people. or think and act outside of the box. it’s difficult to be different. to choose to live differently. to live outside the norm and break the rules that are all wrong.
but, it is also oh so much more freeing. it leads to a life of integrity and peace – a life lived from the soul is one that follows the soul, the beat of love, and makes a true difference, instead of just bowing down to the ways of the world.
of course, breaking the rules, the right ones, also creates a life that is full of life. know what i mean? without risk, we gain nothing. if we stay in our safe place, our comfort zone, within the rules that we believe may be true, then we just may miss out on some pretty amazing moments and experiences. oh, yes. life is to be lived. to the absolute freaking fullest. and sometimes, perhaps, that means doing things that require us to break our own rules so that we can grow and laugh and have fun and feel joy.
breaking down barriers – or the purpose of rule-breaking:
finally, breaking rules has to do with creating a new understanding, intruding a new way of thinking and understanding. why do baby boys have to wear blue and baby girls have to wear pink? who says things have to be a certain way? it’s ok to be an individual. it’s ok to stand out from the crowd. it’s ok to be exactly whoever the hell we are – just as we are.
i have never been around so many transgender people before in my life as i was this past weekend at the lgbt conference i attended. let me tell you how incredibly refreshing it was to be in the presence of people who are living how to they know they are called to be – and saying, “screw you” (figuratively, of course) to anyone who questions their identity. they/we/everyone is so beautiful. just as we are. so, go ahead. break those gender rules. break those racial rules. break those sexuality rules. if it leads to more love and equality, if breaking a rule lifts up another person, if getting arrested because you know you deserve to sit wherever you want on a bus, or you know that you deserve to marry whoever you love, then, by all means… break the rules.
turning the question on ourselves:
my question to the united methodist church is this: when will you break the rules? when will you stand up and break down the walls that divide? when will you err on the side of inclusion and acceptance, instead of exclusion (something i’m pretty sure was never practiced by the person of jesus)? when will you decide that, even though you think that the ordination discrimination that kept me away from being ordained is wrong, your non-action is wrong? when will you stand up for my right to be ordained? when will you break the damn rules? (background history on this here)
oh, this is but one institution that needs to consider the rules they are making and breaking… how about the u.s. congress? how about women in third world countries? how about the poor and uneducated? how about those of us who work for/believe in/support any minority group? when are we all going to start breaking the rules of injustice?
and my question to myself is the same… do i break the rules that need to be broken? do i push myself to the edge? do i teeter out the outskirts of society, being seen as a rule-breaker all for the cause of love and peace and equality? do i grab life and say “to hell with the rules that bind me?” and, finally, how much better could i do at breaking free from the rules that confine me? such appropriate questions for me to ponder over the next few weeks during my lenten journey…