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Underbelly: 10 Things - Aim

Wendy Kelly
Wendy Kelly
#148 in a series of wild and precious ways to understand that it’s okay if you don’t know exactly where you’re going.

This week I contemplated aim. I had begun NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month) in earnest on November 1st and stayed on track for about 2 weeks. And then I stopped.
My project for NANOWRIMO is a memoir written to my Dad. The idea came out of the countless times over the past twenty years that I have wanted to ask his advice — or wanted my kids to be able to ask his advice — about any number of things. We were very close and he died too young.
So. As you might imagine, every writing session ended with me sobbing. On top of that, I found myself having to write out what I began to call “unfinished business” before I got to the advice part because, well, he died too soon and there is a lot of unfinished business between us.
I had to leave my NANOWRIMO unfinished. It’s glaring at me right now, underneath this newsletter on my desktop :)
Leaving that project unfinished left me feeling a bit aimless, wandering.
My thoughts this week centered around how important it is to know when to let a project, a cause, a conviction rest. How hard it is to do that, to untether yourself from something that has emotional pull but how important, too, to rest a bit in order to find your compass, reset, and move on.
The essential principle around here is that we belong to each other, and every single person is unshakeably good. So there is no need to sever belonging. There is no need to say: “You’re in and you’re out. One day you might be in, but you need to change your behavior.” No, everybody belongs. So you try to create a community of kinship, such that God might recognize it. And you try to announce this message that nobody is outside the circle of compassion. You’re trying to obliterate once and for all the illusion that we’re separate, that there is an us and them, which is kind of a key, I think, to solving life as we know it. How can we really get to a place where we draw our family circle wider?
The mark of an authentic disciple is joy and bravery. And so you can easily identify what lurks underneath most things by identifying fear and sadness. If the message is soaked with fear and laced with sadness, then you at least know that you’re doing it incorrectly, which is probably nice to know. But if it’s joyful and if it’s brave and if it takes seriously what Jesus took seriously—inclusion, nonviolence, unconditional loving-kindness and compassionate acceptance—if it does all that stuff, then it stays close to the marrow of the Gospel. It’s never afraid, and it’s filled with joy.
But I also think we get stuck in moral outrage, and we shouldn’t settle for that. We should hold out for moral compass, which is quite different. People get outraged all the time. And that’s really a statement about themselves. You’ve allowed it to become about you if it’s about being outraged. But once it’s about moral compass, then it’s about everyone belongs, everyone belongs. Once you start to say, “There are no exceptions to that,” then you start to understand and see, as God sees.
3. Prompt
That’s a long quote, but I felt like I needed to include the entire thought.
Father Greg Boyle is from my stomping grounds — his family is friends with friends of mine from childhood. His work is legendary now (He recently celebrated his jubilee) but when I interviewed him a couple times ages ago, he sounded tired, like he might actually give up his work.
In an interview with the LA Times, he said it’s been his privilege to “stand in awe at what folks have to carry rather than in judgment at how they carry it.” He called the homies who paid him tribute “anthems of resilience who have come to know the truth of who they are.”
To get to a place where you truly do understand that it’s not about you and that everyone belongs — it takes a lot of rest. It means you don’t understand yet, you are not ready yet.
Father Greg says in another interview, “society punishes people for bad behavior, and we call it justice, but real justice restores. We’ve mistaken moral outrage for a moral compass. A moral compass helps you see with clarity how complex and damaged people are. It is the whole language. Moral outrage increases the volume and the distance that separates us. I suppose if I thought moral outrage worked, I’d be out raging. But rage just means we don’t understand yet.
It takes, as Father Greg says, “joy and bravery” — absolutely. But when you do dive into life joyfully and bravely, you’re going to get overwhelmed, filled with grief at how cruel the world can be, tired.
That is where resting and resetting your compass becomes essential. It’s not about you — that is absolutely true. It’s also true that if you don’t deeply love and care for yourself and allow yourself rest and resetting, you will lose your way and give up halfway.
And we can’t allow anyone to give up halfway.
So — in order to find your compass, keep your aim sharp, and live life fully with joy and bravery, you’re going to have to rest sometimes.
Do you allow yourself to rest? How are you with transitions? Can you put that thing down for awhile when you need to? Can you rejoin once you’ve rested a bit — because we need you.
4. Quest
I am doubling down on the idea of not being ready — I think this week I understood even more clearly how important it is to pause and reset often.
Move toward goals with joy and bravery. Don’t force joy and bravery — when it’s not there, you need to rest, you don’t understand yet. And that is okay.
5. Level up
And maybe after all this, this super long newsletter, you are filled with joy and bravery! Awesome. Go forth and lead us :)
6. Video
7. Video
Practicing Love with Father Greg Boyle
Practicing Love with Father Greg Boyle
8. Poem
The Fugitive by Ameen Rihani - Poems | Academy of American Poets
9. Hero
Dolores Huerta - Wikipedia
10. Connect
Don’t miss out on the other issues by Wendy Kelly
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Wendy Kelly
Wendy Kelly @wendykkelly

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Nelson, British Columbia