God is In the Overlap

(This is a re-offering of a post from 2009, in the spirit of Blog Action Day 2012: "The Power of We")


In this day and age of a movement toward taking responsibility for one's own actions, and only one's actions - and by this I mean healing ourselves from this tendency to micromanage, or helicopter-parent, or suppress our own feelings so we don't allow others to deal with their own, or any number of other ways in which we confuse Other's Stuff for our stuff, and are now working very hard on how NOT to do that anymore -  this idea may hit a nerve.

But bear with me.

The idea is that we meet people a little more than halfway. That we give a little more than 100% (as much as that platitude makes me cringe). That we do what we can when we can to make life just a little easier for someone else. Even if it's not our job.

Because there are plenty of times when we can't do that.

And more importantly, there are plenty of times when we can't even pull all of our own weight, and we may very well be saved by the kindness of another. Creating an environment of overlap makes up for the deficiencies. It's that thing about how independence is nice and all, but interdependence creates miracles, and where the whole becomes larger than the sum of its parts, and where a safety net is woven to hang under the gaps so things don't fall through and people don't get lost.

For the most part, I'm not even talking about big stuff. I'm talking about little things ... random acts of kindness for example. Doing things for someone even if it's 'not your job'.

Those dishes were already in the sink...

I didn't drop that trash...

It's the waiter's job to clean that up...

Why should I change my schedule? This wasn't my screw-up....

Do fears of being taken advantage of arise at that thought? Resentment for not being appreciated? Probably. They do for me too. But without going too far into that, those fears have more to do with us, and our expectations. (And yes, more than likely, past experience.)

Those are things to deal with.. and it's probably also as much about recognition of the times we've felt guilty for taking advantage of the generosity of another. These feelings should probably be addressed and healed if you're already at a level of depletion and confusion over healthy boundaries.

But this is my interpretation of the phrase, "heaven on earth".

Like that story in which hell is depicted as a dining table full of fine food, but everyone is starving because their spoons are too long to reach their own mouths. Whereas in heaven, they're feeding each other.

My own experience has shown me that it takes a lot more energy to sort out whose is whose (I have had a nasty tendency to keep score of such trivial stuff) rather than just solving a small problem in front of me that can be dealt with in a few seconds without drama and blame. And I make the assumption that for every little act in which I extend myself to help, and which was not my direct responsibility, there are a hundred little inconveniences I've left behind for someone else. And I would hope that they were resolved without cursing me.

Back to that responsibility thing. It is tricky. But to me, a larger picture is becoming clear. I want a peaceful world. That makes me responsible. I want to experience kindness and forgiveness and Oneness in the world. That makes me responsible. 

I want a world in which we play god to each other in large and small ways, and we are the ones who offer the miracles. Therefore, I am responsible.