I sat across the table, looked at our pastor, and said it again.
"You know I'm the wrong person to ask. We're both way too Lutheran.* Ask the others." Then I sat back and shut my mouth, for a few minutes, anyway.
There was a time I would have not have thought this possible. Indeed, I bet many, when asked to describe me, would say "opinionated" is the understatement of the century! What's more, my comfort zone, like most people's, lies mainly with those who share my thoughts and beliefs.
Yet our comfort zone is not always our best zone. If I stay in my comfort zone, those outside it stay just there, outside. And that is not okay, especially not in a worship setting. My pastor and I could plan a service that would knock our own socks off, but if it has no meaning for the congregation, what use would that be? Heavenly music is rarely made from two similar voices hitting the exact same note.
I really started learning this fifteen years ago, when I moved to the Bible belt. A liberal Yank if ever there was one, I had two choices. One was to dig in my heels and tell anyone who didn't agree with me where they could go. Not being a fan of lonely defeat, I went for the second option and opened my ears, my mind, and my heart. It has not been always easy, and sometimes I fail on a pretty epic scale, but my life is the richer for it.
On the hardest days, especially in this time of vitriol known as an election year, it helps to realize that those with whom I disagree want the same things I do: love, respect, a better world for our children. It also helps to think about their stories. What is it about their story that brought them to this point? How has my story shaped and guided me? What if, instead of seeing these as competing narratives, we saw them as a counterpoint to which the concluding notes are not yet written?
This has been on my mind this week due to the recent passing of Justice Anthony Scalia. I can see some of you now, especially those who know me outside this blog. You are shaking your heads as you wonder, "our left-leaning, feminist, tree-hugging Northerner is inspired by him?" To which I respond, "yep, sure am." I can't agree with most of his conclusions, but I have to admire how deliberately he thought his way there. I tend to process new perspectives when they cross my path; he went out of his way to make those encounters happen. What if more of us followed that example?
I leave you with this: just try it. Think differently. You'll be glad you did.
*"too Lutheran" is not meant to be derogatory; it is simply code for two Lutherans who have found a spiritual home in the United Methodist Church