E.G. (elainegrey) wrote,

I'm continuing to participate in a workshop on "habits of the heart" -- a phrase apparently due to Tocqueville, although i suspect it is important to find the appropriate translation. (See http://www.globalonenessproject.org/library/articles/five-habits-heal-heart-democracy ) We are to reflect on our strongest and weakest, and practice one.

Pick a venue where you spend time and do something this week related to your strongest or weakest habit of the heart. Notice how you feel about yourself and what happens with the other person. When the episode is over, do some journaling about it and share: What did you learn from it?

I have been otherwise occupied and spent yesterday evening listening to the lecture and the first part of the office hour. Reflecting on the five habits, and pondering weakest and strongest practice, have brought two thoughts to mind.

As Palmer discusses only three in this week's lecture, my thoughts first only addressed those three:

* An understanding that we are all in this together;
* An appreciation of the value of "otherness;" and
* An ability to hold tension in life-giving ways.

One of the venues where exercise some of these is in the journaling community in which i participate. Particularly during its heyday i valued the window it opened for me into the lives of folks who had very different life experiences from me. The web platform was designed in such a way that it could be used much like the now ubiquitous blog but it also supports a greater connection between writer and reader, as usually the writer of a journal reads the journals of those reading the writer's journal. The journals i chose to read were the intimate reflections on the author's day to day life, often raw expressions of the experience in the process of reflection.

This community of shared reflections highlights both the common human experience and the otherness simultaneously. Joy, celebration, grief, and depression resonate between the reader-writers, yet the vast differences in experience and identity meant that Western octogenarians, ivy school grad students, homeless Texans, and middle aged rape survivors could all be interconnected and sharing. I intentionally sought out folks who were different yet shared an interest so i could move from an abstract acceptance of a particular "other" to knowing a real person who happened to be different from me in this way or that.

Palmer mentions the practice of sharing stories before entering into discussions of charged topics: i think the community helped us do that. Not that "drama" -- arguments, name calling, severing of mutual reading ties -- didn't happen, but for myself, i know i could more easily read someone's angry rant knowing the deeper history behind it, knowing the other struggles and stories going on at the same time.

Tags: getting to the heart of the matter, morning writing

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