A sermon preached by Thomas Merton (as channelled by Pat Plude) at First Mennonite Church of San Francisco. For a link to this sermon with footnotes, please click here.
Introduction by Sheri Hostetler: A few years back, we did a series that resonated with many of you on the archetypes of the warrior, monk and mystic. We said that while we may gravitate toward one of these archetypes, to be a faithful follower of Jesus, we ultimately need to embody all of them. Thomas Merton has long been one of my spiritual teachers because he did faithfully embody all of them. He was literally a monk, a Trappist monk, at Gethsamani Abbey in Kentucky. He was a mystic with a deep connection to the Source of life, which he experienced in prayer and ritual but also in nature and music. And he was a prophet. Without leaving his Abbey, he became a powerful public prophet, speaking out against the war in Vietnam and militarism and violence in general and standing up on behalf of racial equality.
During our “Speaking the Truth in Love” series, we talked about the importance of sharing our feelings rather than our thoughts (or judgments) when speaking our truth. It is sometimes difficult to figure out the two, however! This Feelings List from the Bay Area Nonviolent Communication chapter can be very helpful with that. You can find out more about their work at www.baynvc.org. The List is used with permission.
Much of this content comes from a course on “Mindful Communication” taught by Oren Jay Safer. Much of it will be in his book, Say What You Mean, which will be released in December.Intro:
Don’t try to internalize all this information — you can’t all at once. Take the one piece that really makes sense to you and run with it. Obviously, in the flow of a conversation we’re not able to think through all this. But the purpose of doing this is to train. Just like we do with any other task.
Quote: “Under duress, we do not rise to our expectations, but fall to our level of training.” (Bruce Lee)
When we are trying to learn how to play an instrument, we slow things down — we play scales, we learn the fingering. All this is meant to give you a structure to practice with when you have the time and space. It develops your capacity to do it in real life within the flow of a conversation.
Why Am I Talking? Read more
This the final sermon in our Back to the Basics series called “Speaking the Truth in Love.” Stefan and Jacob, two members of our community, role played conflictual situations throughout this sermon.
So, we have started with ourself in this series. We have looked at our conflict styles. We talked about the importance of being present when in conflict so that we can access the wisdom of our emotions and our senses and our neofrontal cortex. We have cautioned against jumping over the net to tell stories about the other person’s motivations and intentions. And then last Sunday, Pat and Joanna talked about the “listening” aspect of speaking the truth in love — how to make space for and receive someone else’s truth. Finally, on this last Sunday of a series called “Speaking the Truth in Love,” we get to speak.
But what should we say? What do we really want to communicate? What is authentically true for us — and what is going to give us the best chance of getting our needs met? Our first impulse in a charged situation is often to speak out of our reactivity. For instance, our impulse might be to spew our emotions and initial judgements:
Most of this content comes from a course on “Mindful Communication” taught by Oren Jay Safer. Much of it will be in his book, Say What You Mean, which will be released in December.
To come from curiosity and care, to understand, means to be able to listen. It feels good to be listened to! To be heard. This is absolutely universal. Listening is usually where the bottleneck happens in a conversation. It’s not in the fluency or skill of our speech. Listening well can take us really far in a conversation. If we really know how to listen, we can help clean up a mess or de-escalate a conversation.