About 20 years ago, it came to me “to see the Divine in each person.” This would prove far harder than I realized. It’s easy for me to see the Divine in those I hold dear or who share my values and life experiences. But in those with whom my views clash or with whom common ground has not been built? Well, that’s another story. My ego is remarkably adept at jumping in to instantly justify the beliefs I hold, my solutions, or the validity of my position. None of which really matters in this particular endeavor.
Steps Along the Way
This intention has taught and continues to teach me 1) to step back and take a breath or two or three, 2) to check my judgments, 3) to listen deeply internally and externally, 4) to ask questions without attempting to shame or persuade, and 5) to seek to understand. I have also learned that this resolve doesn’t demand that I agree with, condone or excuse. It simply requires me to move through exchanges, encounters, and situations acknowledging the Divine spark which I choose to believe resides in each person.
Initially, I found myself engaging in “idiot compassion,” an implausible practice I now define as allowing myself to be harmed or taken advantage of or being too kind or mute when, in fact, a situation required a response or accountability. Over time, I came to see that denying the Divine spark I bring to a situation is no more helpful than denying the Divine spark of those around me.
The partisanship of our day can make this a dizzying, and seemingly impossible, path. However, I have noticed that I am at my best when I knowingly take time to forgive myself when strong opinions swamp me. For me, gentleness, curiosity and forgiveness pave the way for building relationships and, more often than not, witnessing the Divine.