Can I do this editor’s blog weekly? We’ll see. I keep trying every few months, then like too many ideas it flits away, blown by the winds of distraction.
This week I want to stop and ponder what it means to have an open mind and heart. I’ve discovered the more I keep both, the easier it is for peace to enter. Calm. A freedom from judgment, worry, condemnation, outrage, and the need to be right that arises more from insecurity than from self-assurance.
I’ve long had a wide variety of people in my life: socially conservative siblings (though they support my equality and welcome my husband and me into their homes), progressives, Republicans, Democrats, a stray Libertarian. Atheists, Christians, LGBT-orthodoxy adherents, and a few queers young and old. Unless their beliefs and efforts directly threaten me or the ability of us all to live in some kind of harmony, I bear no grudge and engage in no conflict.
Why this topic, this week? I recently posted about an event being held by a friend of mine, a woman I find frighteningly intelligent, remarkably gentle, a tireless advocate, and a Christian. Among the few comments on it was the unfortunately predictable,“There is no god! We don’t need some make-believe sky-god for equality!” I don’t know what the man was hoping to accomplish with his comment, or why he felt such a need to take a stab at someone else’s beliefs, but it made me not want to be him.
I’ve attended MCC New York, a queer Christian church, for 20 years. I am not a Christian. I’m not an atheist, either, or an agnostic. I’m not invested in labeling myself or identifying myself for the benefit of anyone who needs me to so they can pretend to understand who I am based on a small set of stereotypes.
I don’t like the word ‘queer’ but I use it at times. I’m not versed in Islam and don’t have any opinions of it. There are some nifty quotes attributed to Buddha but that’s the extent of my experience with enlightenment. Is there a god? I don’t know, don’t care, and never pose that question to myself or anyone else. It’s a conversation for others, in a world that seems very, very determined to fight over the answers.
I like knowing, loving, and welcoming many different kinds of people and ideas into my life and experience. The older I get, the less I think it benefits me to prove to myself, if no one else, that I am right and you are wrong. The only universe of which I’m the center is my own mind, and the more open I keep it, the more stars I see in that universe, the more mystery, the more discoveries to be made. The peace I sometimes feel has required of me an open mind and an open heart in order to enter my life. It’s worth all the points I’ve ever proved, all the arguments I’ve ever engaged in and lost, won, or walked away from. When I close the doors of my mind and heart, I’m left in the dark, groping for a way out, a window through which to once again see the stars. That’s not a place I want to be anymore. Life is short, time is a non-renewable resource, and neither needs to be frittered away in the angry certainties of a closed heart and mind.