Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Spiritually Speaking: Picking Out Shoes and Attitude


This is our final month of the church year and theme-based calendar.  As our leaders complete their service to us, our children complete their school year and our church prepares to go to one service for July, we close with an important theme: attitude.  When I first asked our leaders to think about a closing theme for the year and they offered attitude, I was a little confused.  Attitude did not have great connotations to me.  Was it by the end of the year, we were all going to have a serious attitude?!
“Having an attitude” is typically not a good thing.  Children are told to fix their attitudes and sometimes we describe people as needing an attitude adjustment.

So, I listened to their words.  What did attitude mean to them?

They spoke about believing the glass to be half-empty or half-full.  They spoke about a hopeful disposition or sense of self.  They talked about gratitude that our children have healthy attitudes about self-esteem, values, and justice.

So I started some searching on this word--attitude.

The origins of the word attitude are neither positive nor negative.  The word comes from the 17th century art world.   It referred to the position of a statue and what the particular pose conveyed.  Was the subject angry or sad, inquisitive or overjoyed?  Attitude was set in stone and told the emotional story of person at a particular point in time.
It got me to thinking about how our personal attitudes are set in stone sometimes by repetitive reactions or unconscious ways of being.

When I was in Raleigh on June 3rd, the rally was energizing, but I must admit being in charge of bus logistics and the group was challenging.  Navigating the 1600+ gathering, I searched for our UU Charlotte people as Rev. Barber asked those engaging in civil disobedience to line up and enter the assembly.  I ran forward, too late to see Rev. Ann Marie entering the assembly.  As we gathered behind the assembly to watch the detention center buses leave, the clouds grew dark.  Rev. Barber asked us to disperse for a great storm was coming.  As I called the bus driver to meet us quickly, the rain started pouring and someone started singing the gospel tune, “I’ve Got a Feeling (Everything’s Gonna Be Alright).” A sort of careful chaos erupted with people running for shelter, the buses arriving and belongings distributed between the two buses accordingly (some would be staying late into the night, while others boarded a bus leaving that very minute). After counting heads twice, passing out sandwiches and sodas with folks helping me, I finally ran from the early bus to the late bus.  I directed the driver to take us to the detention center and I took in a deep breath.  The gospel song came back to me.

I've got a feeling everything's gonna be alright, 

I've got a feeling everything's gonna be alright, 

I've got a feeling everything's gonna be alright, 

Be alright, Be alright, Be alright.

If I were frozen just two seconds earlier, what would my attitude have been?  Would my posture be one of frenzy and chaos or calm in the storm?  It was clear to me, despite my personal desire, it would have been the former.  And it was also clear, that the posture of chaos was likely begun far earlier in the day.
How often do we set our attitudes in stone the moment our morning begins?  We begin in chaos and our day flows through with chaos.  Granted, there is a lot we can’t control, but I wonder if we could set our attitude each day.  If in the morning there was a practice of freezing for three seconds in the posture we wish to be in--peace, joy, openness, gratitude or perhaps simply hope then could this impact the moments when the day is frenzied and the clouds open to pour down rain?  There is research to suggest even small regular acts of intentioned attitude change our neural networks and responses in the moment!

Our posture in this world is so often an unconscious act.  Are you the glass half-empty or half-full type?  We walk in this world sometimes so quickly we can’t see how we are walking.  So perhaps it is wise at the end of the church year and school year to reflect on our attitudes.  What posture have you posed in this past year? Is it one you want to enrich and continue?  Have you been hunched over a bit and in need of a spiritual stretch?  If we took a quick photo right now, what would your attitude be?
I am reflecting on my own attitude and the desire to continue to be a posture of peace and less of a work-a-holic. We all have our own stretching to do!  Mine begins now with three seconds each morning holding the peaceful pose.  My statue is one of singing with a smile…

I've got a feeling everything's gonna be alright, 

I've got a feeling everything's gonna be alright, 

I've got a feeling everything's gonna be alright, 

Be alright, Be alright, Be alright.

What’s your statue look like friends?  As summer sprouts around us, I wish you meaningful poses and stretches!

In faith and love,

Rev. Robin

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