The Contemplative Life

E 175 Loving in an Election Year

May 28, 2024 Chris & Christina Roberts
E 175 Loving in an Election Year
The Contemplative Life
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The Contemplative Life
E 175 Loving in an Election Year
May 28, 2024
Chris & Christina Roberts

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Regardless of your country of origin, election years can be stressful. 

Join us today as we explore practices that can help us love our neighbors as ourselves.

Support the Show.

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

Regardless of your country of origin, election years can be stressful. 

Join us today as we explore practices that can help us love our neighbors as ourselves.

Support the Show.

Loving in an election year

[00:00:00] Christina: Hello, it's great to be with you today. We are taking some time to talk about loving in an election year. Now we're podcasting from the United States, but we're certainly not the only country facing elections. In fact, last week, I was in a conversation with a friend of mine in Panama, and she was processing their recent election and it was going to happen in a few days.

[00:00:23] And just sitting in the unknown outcomes, how it would impact her family. It reminded me of another friend of mine who lives in Canada. And I've known her for a couple of decades and over the years, having political conversations with her about the changing landscapes that she's lived through in her lifetime.

[00:00:40] And so regardless of our country of origin, election years can bring up all sorts of emotions. In our modern times, we have access to the news 24 seven. So even if we try to limit our intake, it's part of the conversations and interactions in our daily lives. And particularly when it's an election cycle or an election year.

[00:01:01] And so Chris and I found ourselves in several conversations over the last few weeks with people just wondering in what ways can contemplative practices, spiritual guidance, help us navigate election years. And so we thought we'd take some time this morning to dive into what it means to love during an election year.

[00:01:17] Chris: Yes, this is a very big topic and I, you starting off with your stories of friends in Panama and Canada. It reminded me of one of my first experiences in a different country. I grew up in a rural town and so political. Talk or political experiences didn't happen on a scale that I'm used to now as an adult.

[00:01:42] And I think the first experience that I walked in naively to this was when I was in Germany I went into a pub in Germany and. The German fellow that I got in a conversation with wanted to know if I liked our current president at the time and depending on what I would say to him would determine his interaction with me, whether he was hostile or whatever, and I could tell that he was getting ready to be hostile.

[00:02:12] And so I. Just started. I changed the topic a little bit. I wanted to say what's important to you. And I changed it from political to more of what you care about type of conversation, which those both can be political, right? What you care about and what your affiliation is.

[00:02:33] But. I think how I changed the conversation made him more open to me. And in fact, he bought drinks, bought drinks for the Americans. And I thought, wow, I dodged a bullet there. , this guy was ready to be hostile. And I think that was the first time I experienced the Polarization, I would say of your political affiliations.

[00:02:57] Christina: Chris, I really like what you're saying about backing up the conversation into what we care about. for that. And as I think about loving during an election cycle, there's the classic phrase of to love our neighbors as ourselves and it's twofold, right?

[00:03:10] It's paying attention to what's inside of us and from that place of spaciousness, being able to make room for other people in their stories and their experiences. And, I think for me, it's important to acknowledge the emotions that come up inside of us when it's an election cycle, or when we're in these tense conversations with other people, there's emotions that come up, and usually they're not emotions that we're comfortable with or excited to have, right?

[00:03:36] Maybe it's cynicism or fear or anger, worry, right? A whole number of emotions that can arise. And I have found in my own life that when I acknowledge that, and sometimes in the moment I have to shelve that emotion and engage with the person and then maybe later come back to that, or there's times where I can actually take some moments and recenter myself.

[00:03:57] But I find that if I'm not acknowledging that and working through it in my own life, then when I am in those conversations, I tend to be reactionary or shut down or have experiences that I don't really prefer having. I have found who are my safe people where there's things coming up or there's a conversation that's lingering or as I'm just thinking about a particular situation and maybe a commercial that I just saw or something like that an issue that's arising paying attention to, gosh, right now I'm feeling X emotion and, Okay, what do I do with that?

[00:04:28] How do I process that? How do I be honest with that as well? And to be able to work through that and, I think for me, one aspect of that is, conversation, maybe journaling things like that work and just come out of me so that it doesn't feel so stuck.

[00:04:43] Chris: Yeah, I really appreciate the practice of journaling that you're bringing forward. Whenever I was. In spiritual direction training school. One of the things that we did is we did these things called verbatims and really what it was, is it was just journaling, but you're writing down your conversation 

[00:05:04] with a person and you're noticing where you got triggered in the conversation, you could hook or hook. You got hooked is something, it could be a good hook. It could be a negative hook. But what you're doing is you're paying attention to what. Feelings are present as you're engaging in these conversations.

[00:05:26] And I think the way that you talked about journaling made me think about that practice. I think there are times where we're in conversations with people and we just can react to it. There's something inside of us that just reacts to it. And I don't think we're our best selves when we react to something.

[00:05:46] I think we're our best selves when we react to it. We understand ourselves and then we can understand other people and we get in really good conversations when we listen deeply to others. If we're just wanting to make a point or we're waiting for a person to finish sharing so we could share, we're not really listening to others.

[00:06:08] We're not listening deeply. We're not caring. We're not being our best selves. yeah. I really like that you brought up the journaling practice and I'm excited about noticing conversations and I think it could be so helpful in navigating future conversations. 

[00:06:26] Christina: I feel very fortunate.

[00:06:27] I would say over the past several years, Chris and I have both leaned into these opportunities to try to listen on both sides of the perspectives of different people that we interact with. And, recently, and I'll be honest, I think, when I was younger, some of those midterm elections where it was the local candidates who's going to be the mayor or the older person, school board Weren't as important to me, certainly like the bigger elections, I was showing up and voting and being participatory, but those smaller ones up until recent years and recognizing, and it was actually my friend in Canada who was noting, really the mayors and those local leaders do so much and how important it is to really pay attention to them because they really impact our day to day lives.

[00:07:09] And I thought, you have a point. And we were recently in a conversation where we had invited different leaders in the community to be on a panel, and people that normally wouldn't be in the same room together in a peaceful way, having such wonderful dialogue around how do we bring improvement to the community?

[00:07:26] What does it mean to work for the good of everyone that lives in our particular area? And, I do think We have a lot more in common than we give ourselves credit for and I think taking those opportunities to listen deeply like you're saying Chris really does expand and of course there's things that we do disagree on or how to go about doing that.

[00:07:44] But for me, it was really important just to hear another perspective and. Even if I just walk away with a 1 percent different change of how I'm seeing that person or that view, I find that just to be so expansive and helpful in what it means, again, going back to that theme of loving our neighbors as ourselves and really seeing the neighbor and seeing what they care for and seeing their particular angle that is going to help me to grow in that piece of love.

[00:08:07] Yeah.

[00:08:08] I 

[00:08:09] Chris: think people's stories. If. If we could just listen to people's stories that will change everything a lot of times we don't even get to stories or we don't even know how to ask questions to hear someone's story. We see this line that's being drawn in the sand rather than the person in front of us.

[00:08:29] And I think. Man, it is hard work to not draw lines and to not be bounded. I'm over here. You're over there. And so I think a spiritual practices how do you cultivate curiosity? I'm going to let some of the things that this person said pass through me and I'm going to try to get to them.

[00:08:54] To a place of deeper connection. I want to hear their story because there's always a reason why people believe the things that they believe, and if you can listen to their story you're more open to them as a person, as a human being, then you are putting them in a category or a box. And I find that to be probably one of the most helpful spiritual practices is getting to the story.

[00:09:20] Listening to someone's story.

[00:09:22] Christina: Yeah. And I think I want to acknowledge too, I think depending on the type of relationship I have with a someone it's easier, at times than others, I think over the past, and again, talking like many election cycles that I've lived through now in my life, I'm a little bit older but even with like family members or people that are really close to me or close friends that I had.

[00:09:40] Maybe back in my 20s that, maybe we have different views right now on certain things. Those conversations tend to hit a little bit harder, right? And it's not just my neighbor said this, or I read something on, a post, you can process that and let that pass through you differently than maybe someone that's really close to you.

[00:09:56] Or again, a family member that you deeply love, and yet maybe you see things differently or Aren't quite sure how to have those conversations because it can just get really tense really quickly. And so I think for me giving permission for space that's a good thing. And sometimes if things are too heated or it feels like just the conversation shut down, allowing myself to have some space.

[00:10:17] And to your point, Chris paying attention to what was the particular trigger? Like maybe I can just say that was an awful conversation or I'm so upset at that. Versus actually most of the conversation was fine. This particular like minute of the conversation was really the part that really got to me.

[00:10:33] And that's what I'm like having to figure out how to navigate through that. And then depending on the maturity or depth of a relationship. You can go back and have a conversation with that person, or you can seek to learn or to figure out what it means to move forward in that. Or I think sometimes it's, realizing that you're not going to see eye to eye and I can be at peace with that.

[00:10:51] I can let that go. I think of the serenity prayer God grant me the serenity to accept the things that I cannot change, courage to change the things that I can, and wisdom to know the difference, right? And so sometimes there is courage and we speak out, and sometimes there's just an acceptance of, I can't change this right now, or maybe ever, and that's okay, and trusting in God to give the wisdom to know when to speak and when to be quiet seems to be a really helpful practice for me.

[00:11:15] Yeah, I like that. 

[00:11:17] Chris: That's a great use of the serenity prayer. I really appreciate that. Again, I, just one of the, one of the things that comes to mind as you're sharing was, I think we all have relatives that we know that we probably differ, we have different opinions. And I just remember a relative that I was in conversation with that, has completely different belief system than I do.

[00:11:45] And for some strange reason, I asked about, I asked about a story and I had a whole lot more Grace and understanding for them after hearing their story, right? We can't write off the human experience of what it means to have fear or what it means to be lonely or what it means to be isolated.

[00:12:06] Or we can't write off those experiences because we all have those experiences. And so I think it gives us a lot more understanding and connection to others. So I appreciate you sharing that. I think spiritual practice for me is you taking a break from the input.

[00:12:27] That I'm getting no, I think noticing how you're feeling, if you're feeling particularly anxious, take a look at your input. Are you watching more TV? Are you listening to more podcasts that have certain. Angles to them that are causing anxiety to rise up in you. I think that's an important spiritual practice to, to really pay attention to, do I have grace to hear the things that, that I want to hear right now, or I just, I'm not in a good spot.

[00:12:57] So I need to take a step back. So I think limiting, I don't think people like that word limit. But I think the power of limiting is so useful for us. I think limiting is a great spiritual practice. 

[00:13:12] Christina: One thing that I've just learned watching my children, they, in elementary school, middle school, high school, their journey of facing election cycles.

[00:13:19] And, I really appreciate in younger years where discovering in grade school, Oh, so and so is voting this way. And so is voting that way, like AKA their parents are or whatever. And this realization that Oh, like they're my friend and maybe we are going to vote differently, or they have different stickers that their parents show up with in their, vehicle or whatever.

[00:13:37] But then when it's time for recess, nobody cares. Like they go out and they play tag and hide and seek and they're just friends with each other. And I think that there's something about playing together with people and people that maybe have different views. You can have your discourse or dialogue or whatever, but then just go play, have fun, laugh to your point, Chris, drink a beer, have some fun together.

[00:13:55] And I think that there's something to be said about not being so serious all the time. And if we can lighten it up and again, lean into the. Pieces of that person that we treasure and enjoy. So just, I think some of that lightheartedness that children bring in election cycles is a good reminder for me as well.

[00:14:11] Chris: Yeah, and there's all kinds of fun, right? There's a, there's aggressive fun that maybe you don't want to take somebody that has a differing opinion. I don't know if I want to go axe throwing with certain individuals. I think you have to have fun moderately in a way that, that, that could, open you up to them.

[00:14:31] , Something else that comes to mind christina. We were talking the other day about the importance of candles as a spiritual practice and so You know, i'd love to invite you to share a little bit about how you've used candles as a spiritual practice 

[00:14:47] Christina: Yeah, I think for me and part of my Greek Orthodox upbringing, candles were a big piece of that.

[00:14:52] And, everybody probably has their own lens on what it means. I think for me, just having light and light that's present has felt really important to me in dark periods of my life. Different things that I've walked through different seasons. And so there's two different candle practices that I love.

[00:15:07] One is a scented candle. And when I'm facing something that feels heavy, I will light the scented candle and just having the aroma in my office or the room that I'm in that day is a reminder of just presence and goodness in the midst of hard times. And then another practice is with taper candles.

[00:15:24] And Those are really engaging because there's such a visual of, maybe there's a lot going on and I need to burn my taper candle for a pretty long time till it gets short. Or maybe I just have something that happened and I need a little five, 10 minute burn of a candle and it just goes down a little bit and that's enough.

[00:15:39] And I can blow the taper candle out. And so approaching, if there's something going on in our lives, some emotions that we might be working through a challenging conversation. Yeah. Determining, okay, I need a medium sized taper today, or this is a long one, or you know what, I can take that little stub from the other day and just keep burning it down and recognizing that light is already working its way through this relationship, this conversation, this situation, or if I feel overwhelmed, like I'm just one little voice and I don't have much say in this world, just the reminder that the collective light actually really matters and can bring some difference.

[00:16:12] And so that's been something really helpful for me in my walk.

[00:16:16] Thanks so much for this conversation and hopefully as you are engaging whatever country you're in and whenever your elections are happening that you can find some spaciousness and engagement with contemplative practices. 

[00:16:27] And now is the part of our podcast where we talk about what we are into. So what are we into this week?

[00:16:38] Chris: I have been into gazebos. I've loved seeing my neighbors set up gazebos and just the beauty that they can bring the community that they can bring. And we got a gazebo last week and it was quite the ordeal to set it up. It was, there were many moving parts to it. And so it's something me and my kids did together.

[00:17:06] And Already. I love the shade. I love that we gather underneath it. And I love the landscape that it looks out onto. And so it's caused me to engage with my yard. It's caused me to engage with my neighbors in a new way. So I am all about our new gazebo gathering in it, eating in it, viewing nature, listening to the sounds of the neighborhood in the gazebo.

[00:17:34] Christina: I am with you. It is a delightful addition to our home. I am into Cobb salads lately. There's just something about the variety of crispy bacon with the chicken and the greens and avocado and all the creamy yumminess, cheese, et cetera. Like I've just been really delighting in Cobb salads. I'm imagining this will be a theme for some other episodes.

[00:17:53] I just love creative salads. This is the time of year for such. And so my current favorite is a Cobb salad. Thank you so much for joining us and until next time, make it a great week.