A Relational Virtue And Lost Grace ~ Early Morning Thoughts

There is something in every one of you that waits
and listens
for the sound of the genuine in yourself.
–Howard Thurman

As I typed the words lost grace – I’m concerned about what I’m trying to convey. It’s a struggle to find the right words to make sure my meaning comes across and is clear. I don’t mean lost in the sense of gone/finished/never to return. I want to convey the idea of misplaced or forgotten. I also am not chatting about mannerisms or simple habits. You know, the kind of things that keep us from failing to survive in the world around us. So, my idea of a lost grace is that integrity as a current, modern measure has slipped from awareness. I admit when I started working with this series of posting, I honestly had a slightly different idea of integrity than I do now.

It’s easy to say that integrity should be the prime virtue – a core/central ideal. Somehow, it seems to be seldom spoken of…unless, of course, we have headlines about those we perceive as lacking in that trait. Look back over the headlines and on-line
news stories, and it would be easy to become cynical about integrity and/or the lack of it. Certainly that seems to be the case with politicians (easy target), teachers (easy target), celebrities (easier target). But what about ourselves? (either not an easy target, or an un-touchable target). And, of late, it seems that it is a trait assigned only to those who have passed on…seldom to the living.

There is a very popular and very often quoted Hasidic story of Rabbi Susya. When he he imaged what would happen to him at heaven’s gates, he decides: “God will not ask me, ‘Why were you not Moses?’ He will ask, ‘Why were you not Susya?’” (When I think of that I’m a little concerned he might ask ME “Why were you so WD?”)

Regardless of your spiritual stance, that story leads to an interesting and somewhat overwhelming concept.

Integrity refers to wholeness, to a sense of self that can move but cannot be shaken. Dictionaries are really no help – one definition as a ”rigid adherence to a code of behaviour.” There are many that have a rigid adherence to beliefs and stances that do not reflect integrity of themselves, on themselves – or other people. We all can make a list of those past and present who were/are like that. I like to think of integrity as holding on to my sense of self – relating to how I need to “be” in the world.

And it’s that needing to “be” in the world that gives me pause. IF it’s a sense of self that can move and not be shaken – what makes the difference between my sense of integrity and someone who takes people in an entirely wrong direction – but is unshakable in their belief (and belief that perhaps ONLY they are right).

At the current time we place individualism as the peak, the pinnacle of acheivment. But this not where I need to be. I believe that integrity is “relational.” In other words, it comes from a private viewing and an even more private process within – but I believe it has a very public outcome. As someone one said:

Integrity is a relational grace, a gift from the world and to it. One does not learn the wisdom of integrity in isolation. Nor may we possess integrity in solitude. For the goal of a person of integrity is to become his or her best self, living in right relations with the rest of the world and also to call everyone else to the same goal.

Several wiser people than I have said that we are a fellowship of human beings – NOT fellowships of race, class, gender, orientation of any type or ability. We are part of a whole and are responsible to the whole.

more on this tomorrow ~

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