‘What a friend we have in Jesus’

or the dangers of a closed mind…

It’s ok I haven’t become a born again Christian and I’m not going to run off and become a nun, rather that inspiration can come from the unlikeliest of places. I’ve been singing in church choirs (apart from a gap in my 20s) since I was about 12 not because I am a Christian but because I like the music. I’m not that keen on ‘happy clappy’ and this morning my heart sank slightly at the thought of singing the aforementioned hymn. A bit of research tells me it was written by Joseph Scriven to comfort his mother who was across the sea from him in Ireland. I grant that the words can be seen as rather trite but sometimes we hear what we need when we need it and it’s the meaning we can take from it. Last week at my coaching course we were reminding ourselves that, even if we think a session hasn’t gone well, if the coachee has received meaning and insight that’s all that matters.

I was feeling a little fragile due to recent events around some unskilful comments from a neighbour that had far reaching consequences. I’m sure her intentions were not malicious but it brought home to me the ripple effects of the things we can say without thinking. I’d been going over things in my mind and the old me might have gone round there and said something like ‘Do you realise what has happened as a result of what you said?’ Now I can appreciate that mostly I choose to surround myself with others who are committed to living a more skilful life and taking responsibility for their actions so when I do come across people who are less aware their actions can be a bit of a shock. A friend of mine said yesterday: ‘… they prefer to use their own narrow experience to make flawed assessments about you, based on their own personal standards and subsequent narrow expectation. The speediest antidotes to such shallow behaviour are a Teflon coat, patience and surprisingly, a sense of humour. Laughter is the most rapid builder of bridges, after love. However, sometimes blatant prejudices are not very funny. That’s where the T coat comes in handy.’ Not always easy though it is important to have compassion.

Sangharakshita the founder of the Western Buddhist Order (now the Triratna) thinks taking wisdom from more than one religion can dilute the path. I disagree, we take meaning and wisdom where we find it. Back to the hymn. It reminded me that there is something bigger than us; that the universe is a benign place – it’s only humans that make it otherwise – and the importance of having faith. Here endeth the lesson 😉

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