Monday, 24 May 2010

Monday Morning Mindfulness

Do you find yourself waking up on Monday Mornings with the weight of the world upon your shoulders? Perhaps it is because your mind and body have had a short break over the weekend, a little switch-off (hibernate), and on Monday Morning you reboot and load up all the stuff you should be thinking about in the week and your operating system has a hiccup.

That's what I felt like this morning anyway. I thought, seeing as Monday Mornings tend to do this to me, I will attempt a little routine of writing a more serious post first thing in the new week, to focus myself on something positive and constructive, something more eternal than, say, the laundry pile. (Although my laundry pile looks eternal most of the time).

This morning, I was mulling something over that has been on my mind for a while, and that is the importance of honouring others. Now this is something I am still THINKING about doing a lot, rather than managing to do. They do say that thoughts are a precursor to habits, and I do want to get into a habit of honouring people.


Well, first of all because honour reflects my belief that every person has intrinsic value, no matter what their qualities as a person are. They have been created for a purpose, and it is part of my job in life to recognise that purpose and value in them, even if they don't see it! Doing this for other people also reinforces my own intrinsic value and purpose (how can you have self-esteem if you don't really believe that other people are valuable too?)

Secondly, honouring people requires faith. If I choose to honour someone despite their flaws, despite their mistakes, I am showing faith in their essential goodness. This takes a LOT of faith when that person has hurt you or created injustice in the world. Ultimately, it is a mindset of hope - believing that there is always redemption, that there can always be forgiveness and a fresh start, that reparation can be made and new life can come from destruction.

Anyway, back to practical matters. With all these interesting thoughts going round in my mind while making my coffee, I suddenly thought - why is "Honour your parents" part of the Ten Commandments, amongst the basic values we hold as a given, such as "Do not murder" or "Do not steal"?

It suddenly occurred to me - it's because our parents are probably the hardest people to honour in life. Now I  know that many people will say -" I find it easy to honour my parents, they are the most wonderful people!" Bless you! I understand your reasoning!

However, I believe there are some reasons why I may still  be right, no matter how lovely your parents are.

Firstly, your parents are with you for as long as they live (and beyond too - how many people still try to please their parents after they have been dead many years!?). This is a long-term honouring commitment. You can't get away from this one.

Secondly, our parents generally don't hold back the most difficult parts of their personality. They may try, but we tend as children to get to know our parents' weaknesses in more clarity than most other people in their lives. This means that we are presented with an emotional struggle -  loving people and being frustrated by them; loving them, and being hurt by them; being desperate for them to understand us, and just not connecting with them. Our hearts are naturally wound up with our parents' hearts, whether we like it or not. And so honouring them throughout their lives and ours, in every situation, covers the range of every troubling and difficult circumstance.

And yet we are called to celebrate their value, their unique giftedness, and their position in our lives as parents, even if everything flies in the face of it.

I read a wonderful book by John Bevere called Honour's Reward. This book helped me to understand why it is important that we honour in the face of extreme injustice and suffering.

It is because when we honour, we declare to ourselves and to others that we are not bound by other people's actions. Our reaction is always dictated by our choice, not by a natural (instinctive) response to other people's treatment of us. This is true freedom, and it is a freedom I long to have in my life, 24 hours a day.

Unfortunately, being human, this is an ideal that I will probably never reach. But perhaps that is why God gives us a starting point in the commandments. He asks us to honour our parents, because he knows that if we can learn to do that, we will probably find honouring most other people easy!

If you want to know what honour looks like in practical life, read John Bevere's book Honour's Reward. And Danny Silk's book A Culture of Honour focuses on extending that practice to a whole community, and the result of that in the community's spiritual life.

Blessings today! Why don't you write your mom and dad and note this morning, or give them a call and honour them. It will be a brilliant way to start the week!

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