Holy Experimenting

For Lent this year, I decided to give up needing to do it right, “it” being pretty much everything.

The need to do something right begins with the giant assumption that a right way exists. Then I invest substantial time and energy in locating that way and pause at each step to assess its accuracy. But life is not a math test. The imaginary line I so often try to walk simply doesn’t exist.

It’s easy for me to confuse doing things right with doing them well. Even when working toward a specific outcome, we can rarely fully imagine the end product at the beginning, and we certainly don’t know how we’ll get there.

Being right is so useful in creating our own identities rather than letting our God-given identities come pouring through us. It allows us to claim an idea, an outcome, a process, a way of thinking as our own and imbue it—and therefore ourselves—with importance.

When I get stuck in trying to make the perfect choice, my ego is in charge. It’s focused on being liked and blameless, not on serving others or contributing to whatever effort is taking place.

I work with scientists, and one of the things I admire about them is their dedication to experimenting. They aren’t looking for the right way; they’re trying to discover the way things are.

An experiment that doesn’t support a scientist’s hypothesis isn’t a failure. It answered a question, and she knows something she didn’t before.

This approach can free us to explore the truth and beauty of life. When we don’t need to be right, a wide array of possibilities opens up. We can travel in our intended direction and trust the twisting path rather than seeing that natural meandering as a series of wrong turns.

This holy experiment called life is inviting us into discovery every day. Let’s see what wonders it has to teach us.

Digging with Doubt

It’s not complicated. We’re here to learn to love ourselves, each other, the animals, the plants, and the Earth. I often get confused and think I’m here to be right.

Being right is complicated. There are so many details to figure out. Right according to whom? What evidence shows that I’m right? How can I guarantee that I remain right as circumstances shift? How can I convince others that I’m right?

Loving is an action, something we do in communion with others. Being right is a state that we try to attain or achieve. We can’t offer or share it; we can only claim and grasp it for ourselves. We can step into love at any moment. We can chase being right all of our lives, but we will never catch that illusion.

In his poem “The Place Where We Are Right,” Yehuda Amichai writes,

“From the place where we are right
flowers will never grow
in the Spring.”

Being right isn’t life-giving. If there’s anything that’s clearly, biologically designed into all of us who share this creation, it’s that we are here to give life.

“…doubts and loves
dig up the world
like a mole, a plough.”

This might be the nicest thing anyone has ever said about doubt, who tends to get a bad rap in our certainty-obsessed culture. Amichai isn’t referring to doubt about our sacredness, our indwelling divinity, but rather to that moment when we reconsider something we had always thought to be true, when we see the humanity in someone we had judged harshly.

That is the moment we wake up to our nature as love, which is the flow of life through our world and through the universe. We need to dig up our worlds. We need to turn over the soil of our lives and see that just under the surface they are teeming with love.


Note: The blog will be on vacation next week. Wishing you a lively flow of love during that time.