In 1982, I made a conscious decision to move away from a dorm with semi-private bathrooms to a dorm with community bathrooms on each floor.
And I never looked back. Ok; the bathroom set up wasn’t the reason I chose the other dorm (It helped they had installed air-conditioning over the summer).
Community was different in dorms with community baths. Not in a creepy way, but in a way that comes sui generis from sharing tiolet, shower, shaving, washing space with a larger number of people.
We had challenges from time to time. I don’t actually remember having my stuff stolen while I was in the shower, but it may have happened. I also don’t remember stealing anyone else’s stuff while they showered. That may have happened, too.
But what I do remember happening was the shared vulnerability of such common spaces had the effect of each of us treating one another with at least a modicum of respect.
So, as a few of us chatted over coffee this morning, and remembered the days of community-bathroomed dorms, someone said, “I bet they don’t have those any more.”
Oh, but we do.
I don’t know if colleges do, but I contend that social media is the community bathroom of 2017. Except that, not realizing it, many of us have not yet learned to treat others with the modicum of respect deserved when an eclectic and random (you might have chosen your roommate, but you didn’t chose who got to live on the floor)
It took us some time to adapt to sharing the space of the community bathroom.
But not as long as you’ve been on social media!
Today is the 16th anniversary of September 11, 2001. It is also the first time in almost a year that I’ve posted.
Welcome back! Thanks for reading.
On my run this morning, I realized today was September 11th. I was struck, then, to notice that the weather was very much like it had been that day 16 years ago.
I remember much about the day. I suppose it is one of those days I will never forget.
Yet, I cringe a little when I hear the phrase “Never Forget.”
It reminds me of another day I will never forget. This day was almost a year later, and, though I don’t remember the date, I’ll always remember the day.
I was preparing for a mission trip. I was also preparing for my divorce to be final. After I had apparently said something bitter, a friend suggested I should consider forgiving my almost-ex-wife.
I said (another thing I will never forget): “Oh, I know I need to forgive her, but not yet. I’m going to let it stew awhile.”
Saying those words aloud woke me up. I knew, from having told other people, that refusing to forgive someone is like taking poison and hoping they’ll get sick (thank you, Anne Lamott, I think). Hearing myself say this started me on the road to forgiveness.
(to be clear: I do not hold my ex-wife solely responsible for our divorce. Therefore, I hope she has forgiven me as well)
I’ll always remember my first marriage, and my first wife. I do not remember it as I did in those first few days and months afterward. I still remember, I will never forget, but my memories have taken different form and occupy a different place in my heart.
As you remember traumatic events in your past, whether national tragedies or personal hitches, may you find the grace of remembering them differently as wounds heal.
Within limits, of course.
If you know me at all, you can imagine how confused I was to hear this yesterday at our church’s Veteran’s Day Luncheon:
Note the order here: the nation was telling the churches to celebrate this day.
I reacted, but controlled it. Someone else had the floor. This gave me time to figure my response.
The State doesn’t tell the church what to do! How dare they? Who do they think they are. The wheels of thought spun inside me, measured by the knowledge that I was surrounded by people, many of whom had served in war, and at least some of whom don’t have exactly the same ecclesiology I do.
As the speaker concluded, she shared that this description of the history of Veteran’s Day came from The United Methodist Church.
My thoughts took an abrupt turn, but not full 180.
Promoting and enduring peace and honoring those who offered themselves to the cause of freedom and justice were certainly worthy values that I could encourage, even lead, my church to uphold.
I’m still nonconstantinian, but I have realized that maybe there is more left to render to Caesar than I thought before yesterday.
I found myself prefacing a comment on facebook last week with the phrase “with all due respect.” Admittedly, that was more filler than thoughtful; if what followed felt like a blow, I added the preface to soften it.
Then I got to thinking about respect. My mind can’t go there without quickly passing through 2 thoughts. The first, of course, comes courtesy of Aretha Franklin. Thank you, Ms. Franklin.
The second thought is from a time when I was in youth ministry. Trying to counsel a high school student through his parent’s divorce, I was struck with an insight that, honestly, impressed me.
I had been encouraging the young man to treat his parents with respect because they deserved it. I’m a parent, and I like that line of reasoning.
On the other hand, I knew some of the choices his parents were making were not good choices.
In other words, they were not, in many ways, earning respect.
So, here’s that insight that surprised and impressed me: “Sometimes,” I said, “you have to treat people with respect because you want to be that kind of person. Someone who treats others with respect.”
(You might wonder why that so surprised – and impressed – to think of such a common sensical sort of thing. Be patient with me; I’m still learning this thing called life.)
We who are parents like to think we can command the respect of our children simply because we are parents. While I would agree we should be able to get some mileage out of this, if the ONLY basis you have for expecting your children to treat you with respect is ‘I’m the parent, that’s why!’ then I’m afraid you are going to be in for a lot of disappointment and heartache.
With all due respect, parents (and adults in general), let’s act in ways that deserve respect rather than just demanding we be treated with respect.
Let’s start with treating others with respect. Whether we feel they deserve it or not. Let’s respect others because of who we are.