Here we are...

Just off the Port Bow—a place of uncertainty, adventure, and insight. Thank you for your ears, eyes and hearts. I hope to bring compassion, grace and beauty to your day.

Days of Judgment

I read the comics every morning after my meditation time...and before I read the Wall Street Journal. I suppose it is a bit silly, and that I "cling" to the fix I get from checking out all 30 of the cartoons strips I look at (thanks to GoComics - "gocomics.com") on my iPad. I've always loved "the funnies".

One of my favorite strips is Li'l Abner. You can't imagine how delighted I was to see this show up as an option for my GoComics account. It all comes back, you see. Was I ten years old when Dogpatch was threatened by a nuclear-fallout-super-sized turnip termite heading for the only crop Dogpatch farmers know how to cultivate? OK, let's say ten. It's a great story. Days of Judgment averted when Mammy Yokum cold-cocks the termite.

This is both an excuse to talk about Li'l Abner and a lead in to comment on a podcast I listened to last week. The podcast is by Sally Clough Armstrong of Spirit Rock and is entitled "Bringing wisdom and compassion to the judging mind".

One of her opening reflections is a statement she heard—something to the effect that "judgment is the central feature of our inner chatter". Well, that says it pretty clearly. I can't even pretend to argue with this. "Central feature" is probably too tame. Judgment rules my inner chatter.

I don't think you need me to fill in all the gory details. There are very few of us who are exempt from this assessment. An Eastern view of things would say that "conditions and causes" are ever at work in and around us—setting up the climate of judgment. A Western/Christian approach might be that our inner judgments are a defensive response to personal sin and a misplaced reflection of divine judgment.

Wherever or however it gets there , it affects everything we think, say, and do. Judgment is not all bad, mind you. Judgment, as discernment and caution, can keep us out of trouble. Yet we all know the overwhelming weight of the judgment within which stifles, frightens, angers and weakens the spirit.

The point of the podcast is to provide tools for the wise and compassionate appreciation of the judgment within. Sally Clough Armstrong does not offer a prescription detailing how to remove the judgment, but a suggestion of how one might accept it. Wisdom and compassion provide both the context for facing inner judgments and the fruits of this self-engagement.

My strategy in the past has been to either run away from these inner voices of judgment, resorting to dreaming, denial and diversion, or to fight it with positive thinking and theological/spiritual assertions. Neither approach has really helped. This podcast points me in a direction which already feels more hopeful: face the judgments with compassion and wisdom. This means not buying into the various narratives behind the judgments ("Peter is a bad boy"). Like bad gas in the bowels judgments arise, persist, and then fall away. They are not permanent.

I have mentioned in a previous post the "mantra" my therapist gave me once to help face these judgments: "Even though I have feelings of fear and shame, I completely love and accept myself."

Meanwhile, Mammy Yokum may have ended the turnip termite threat to Dogpatch, but Daisy Mae is about to marry an apish lout at her grandmother's behest, leaving Li'l Abner confused and dismayed. Stay tuned.





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