Rules 3,4,and 5: There are no mistakes, only lessons… Lessons are repeated until they are learned, and that Lessons never end. Life, as I understand it is a lively experiment. As the Existentialist philosopher Soren Kirkegaard put it, “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”
Only through being willing to risk a full participation and responsibility for our lives, can the lessons of self and soul ever be fully known, appreciated or realized. Some moral philosophers insist on seeing life as a classroom or a school- a place where the texts, the tests, and the tasks are all on many levels, many subjects, and given all at once! Given the complexity of such a teaching, the idea that life is a school has a corollary attached to it: You never, ever graduate! One never leaves the need to learn, to discover, to ripen knowledge into wisdom; Life has a curriculum that spans womb to tomb…
Life is a benevolent, compassionate teacher that requires us to pay attention, to have patience, to practice forgiveness, to laugh at foibles, and to have the capacity to be nonjudgmental about our own and others behaviors.
Without such an inclusive and broad perspective, life could appear downright gruesome and cruel. As the author puts out, lessons do have a tendency to be repeated, until we discover just what it is that these episodes and experiences are truly trying to teach us. The author asks: ” have you ever found yourself repeating a pattern or having the same challenge or problem? ” I would add lessons that make you feel as if the rut you are now in, feel like an ever-expanding black hole?
Lessons are repeated until they are learned. What is being asked of you, of me, of all of us on planet Earth, is to learn how to be more aware of our patterns and tendencies, so that we can act consciously, responsibly. We have to be able to acknowledge that a problem exists before we can either release or resolve it. Then we have to choose willingly to commit to any necessary follow-through, no matter how awkward or painful, and then be willing to affirm and celebrate every step toward freedom and resolution we are able to make. So be It! Amen!
A friend’s grandfather had come to America from war-torn Eastern Europe. After being “processed” through Ellis Island, he went into a cafeteria in lower Manhattan to get something to eat. He sat down at an empty table and waited for someone to come over and get his order. He waited, and waited, and of course no one came over. Finally, a woman with a tray full of food sat down in the chair across from him, and realizing his dilemma, explained to him how American cafeterias work.
When the man came to his new home, he thought to himself, this must be the way everything works in America… That life is a cafeteria.
You can get any thing you want, you can achieve, accomplish and realize whatever you want to see happen, just as long as you are willing to pay the price. You can even get lasting successes, not only for yourself, but for your family and for your community, but you will not get or gain a thing, if you just sit, worry, or complain or expect someone else to give it or get it for you. In America, you have to learn to ask- to get up, and then to go get whatever it is that you want, for yourself.
Q: What is it that you want for yourself, and what do you want for this community? Are you willing to learn how it’s done, how to get up, go over, get it for yourself, and then share it with others?
How best can you choose what you want, and what you want to give to this community? Are we offering our members enough choices, enough encouragement, enough hope, security, and promise for the future?
The measure and worth of our lives will be known by the commitments we keep and the groups and ideal we endorse. Our participation in life equates to our participation in those ideals and values that make our lives most meaningful. Then we can say that we have lived well.
3. There are no mistakes, only lessons.
4. Lessons are repeated until they are learned.
5. Learning does not end.
6. “There” is no better than “here.”
7. Others are only a mirror of you.
8. What you make of your life is up to you.
9. All the answers are inside of you.
10. You will forget all this at birth.
As this might apply to congregations like ours, the body or the shell that houses the life and soul of the community is its building- its sacred space- where we gather to express our message of liberal religion through our style of common worship, outreach, service, and education to our members, their families, and to the larger community. Using Rule 1, this building requires our expression to become alive with the liberal spirit; we have to learn to accept, value, respect, and find pleasure in opening up its use and sharing its space more fully with each other and our surrounding population. In that regard, there is little good reason why it is not used fully every day and every night of the week by some cause, enterprise or group that is in accord with our values and beliefs.
“[The only thing you can count on for certain is that all the lessons you specifically need to learn will be presented to you during your lifetime– whether you choose to listen, learn, and heed those lessons is entirely up to you. ]”
in the book itself, Dr. Carter-Scott adds the qualities of openness, choice, fairness, and grace.