How far have you stretched this month?
There are weeks and months when it feels we are called to stretch our consciousness to extremes. We encounter fear and sadness and excitement and laughter all within a short walk of each other. In the back of our minds, all the regular concerns about work and family and life keep running.
|The statue of Jesus as a homeless person outside Regis College|
|Waiting for Santa Claus to come|
I took these pictures last Sunday morning. They ended up being thematic. All day inside the training we encountered the same strange mixture of excitement and connection and old grief and new confusion. It's the nature of the work that people find they are ready to deal with stuff they have left just outside their awareness while they got on with their lives.
Life is this crazy mixture and we either stretch to reach all of it or shut ourselves off from information that we could use to make better choices. If you ignored all the world's crises this week because they are overwhelming and discouraging, you might be making the best choice you can with the resources you have. Yet you know that some part of you is tracking the news and incorporating it into your expectations of the world. This is how priming works. If advertising can get into your head, then tragedy can also find its way to your edges. And so can families playing street hockey while they wait for Santa to arrive.
At the gym, you might stretch out to prevent injury. But if you over-stretch, you'll cause injury instead. When you know that life is pulling your attention in radically different directions, you are stretching. To avoid over stretching, you need to pay attention and you need to create small parts of your day when you simply shut down and notice what you are feeling.
Your social media feed will urge you to respond to everything - now! The media will provide an endless stream of information that is out of your control without being outside your awareness. You can try to outrun information, but it's hard to outrun the part of you that's noticing. You can try to stretch to understand it all, but the differences are so wide. You'll be in danger of over-stretching.
Or you can just notice that you are not immune and you are not in control of anything except the choices you make. You can choose to stretch and then rest, knowing that the rest is as important to developing your potential as the stretch is. It's not so much the middle way as the moment of stillness while you choose a new direction, the moment when all is possible and no stretch is required.