Reconciliation: Finding common ground to stand on


image (c) bob traupman 2009. all rights reserved.

We’re in a series of blogs building up to President Obama’s second inauguration.  I’m suggesting that we take this time to reflect upon and to pray for our the transformation of our country.  I called us to that four years ago and there is as much need for personal and societal conversion of mind and heart as there was then.  Today, let’s reflect upon the need for reconciliation . . . .

I hate “either / or” alternatives, Lord.

Ultimatums, accusations, mud-slinging — all that.

I think You are always “both / and . . . .”

I think you are always calling us to live in the middle, in the center,

or at least to realize that the pendelum of life is always swinging back and forth

and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

So help us, Lord, to stop following the extremists on either side and be reconciled with each other.

Make us one, Lord.  Make us one.  As a Nation.  As families.  As a Christian Church.  And within ourselves.

Perhaps, dear reader you might like to reflect on the value of reconciling opposites, of seeking our center; this taken from reflection / letter  FOR PRIESTS ONLY.

Both body and soul.  Soul and body. We need both to be human. We must learn to tend to both body and soul.

There is good in bad . . . Bad in good. Those who say there is no bad within them  portray themselves as filled with truth and light and,  therefore, can be evil incarnate.

Left and right . . .Right and left. A person who is missing one of his arms misses something important.  A church that does not embrace left and right misses part of the truth.

Democrat and Republican. A politic that does not embrace both left and right also misses part of the truth.  A one-party government would be disastrous.

Sin and grace . . . Grace and sin. Jesus teaches us that the one who realizes he is a sinner  is the one who is open to grace.

Spirituality and sexuality . . .  Sexuality and spirituality. Every one of us has a body, and by that reason, we are sexual beings, whether we are celibate or not.  Spirituality needs a wholesome sexuality and sexuality needs spirituality to be redeemed and meaningful.

Heaven and earth . . . Earth and heaven. As we strive for heaven, a place of bliss and fulfillment, we remain rooted in our earthiness.

Up and down. . . Down and up. Sometimes down is up and up is down.  (“He has cast down the mighty…”).

Sickness and health . . . Health and sickness. Sometimes sickness helps us find spiritual health and, similarly, good health only may make us feel invincible.

Life and death . . . Death and life. Life prepares for death which opens up to new life after death.

Masculine and feminine.  Feminine and masculine.  Each of us has both qualities within us.

Able and disabled . . .  Disabled and abled. Sometimes the disabled do more with their disability than the able do with their ability.

The seeing and the blind . . . The blind and the seeing. Sometimes the blind see more than those who see and sometimes the seeing are blind.

Belief and unbelief . . . Unbelief and belief. Sometimes those who do not believe search harder and love more deeply  than those who believe.

Hope and despair . . .  Despair and hope. Sometimes those who despair find a truer hope.

Bound and loosed . . .  Loosed and bound. Sometimes we need to be bound  (by discipline) and sometimes we need to be loosed (from fear).

Darkness and light  . . .  Light and darkness. We would not appreciate the light if it were not for darkness.

Progressive and conservative . . . Conservative and progressive. Seek progress but conserve what is worth conserving. Sometimes the conservative is truly progressive and the progressive truly conservative (as in the environment).

Rich and poor . . . Poor and rich. Sometimes the rich are poor in that they may not recognize their need for God and the poor can be truly rich in that they do.

Teacher and student . . . Student and teacher. Good teachers produce better students and good students produce better teachers.

Sane and insane . . . Insane and sane. Sometimes the insane prophetically see the insanity of the world  that the “sane” do not see  in themselves.

And the either/or tendency can become violent: Israelis and Palestinians . . . Black and White . . .  Gay and Straight. . . Protestants and Catholics . . . Muslims and the rest of us.

All these conflicting tendencies can tear at our soul.  We must find resolution or we will not be at peace.  Thus, it is an important secret of life  not to consider opposites as either/or  but both/and.  The key to all spirituality is to find a spirituality in the balance.    “In media stat virtus.”  (Virtue is found in the center.)

The problem is that we do not tolerate points of view that differ from our own and we may hate and want to do harm to those who embody them. 

What would happen  if we taught  people to LISTEN to one another, to search out the truths in each other’s position?  

What would happen if the church and political leaders of our country would call together those who are pro-life and pro-choice to find a way to respect one another and to listen to each other?

You know the statue of the blind-folded woman who represents justice?  She holds in her hand a balance.  In choosing between disparate elements, we should choose a little bit from the right and a little from the left so that the scales balance.  A little bit of light and a little bit of darkness.  A little bit of body and a little bit of soul and, yes, tolerate a little bit of bad with a little bit of good in ourselves and in others. 

We just cannot  dispel or disperse all the weeds from our garden!

I strongly feel that by seeking both sides to a question we will be led to experience new horizons in which we can find God and ourselves and at least a little bit of the truth that will nourish  and strengthen us.

Seek to draw the disparate pieces of your life together. 

Seek balance and tolerance by seeking the truth hidden (to you) in your opponents’ views.  Seek respect and reverence for those who are different.

I believe very strongly that the Truth embodies both the left and the right.  I know from my own life that “symbolein” — the force that draws together rather than casts out or seeks to destroy (diabolein)– is a powerful force indeed.

For me, that Force is JESUS, who is for me the Stillpoint of the universe or universes (Col 1:19-20).

To him be glory and honor forever.

Now, before you go, here is a “This Land is My Land” sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir against the backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge accompanied by a beautiful slide show.  Click here.  Be sure to enter full screen and turn up your speakers. 

With love. 

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

Re-birthing America


We’re coming up in a few days on the second inauguration of Barack Obama.  In this series of blogs, we wish to pray for him, for our congressional leaders and for our country.   In 2009, I asked my readers to realize that personal transformation is connected to the need for transformation of our country.   Four years later, I see that call as urgent as ever.  Let’s take some time over the next few days and over the long weekend to reflect upon and to pray for the inner growth and change we need.

On  July 4, 1776, the men in this image, with their families supporting them published the sacred document, the Declaration of Independence, that created this country.  At its conclusion, they said:


Imagine the risks they undertook and the courage that they needed
to bring the ideal of freedom and equality that existed in their minds and hearts into external reality.
They had to be willing to sacrifice everything dear to them — their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.                      And many of them actually did lose either their lives, their fortunes or their property.
Their signatures, bound to their lives,  created the United States of America.

We need to return again and again to that moment.
We need to re-birth America in our hearts in this time and place.

Many of our service men and women are compelled to serve tour after tour, sacrifice their physical and emotional lives and those of their families while the rest of us American people have been asked to sacrifice very little.

John Kennedy said:

“Ask not what your country can do for you.

Ask what you can do for your country.”

Are you willing to make your own contribution?  Each of us must do our part, neighbor helping neighbor.  We sink or swim together.

God of our understanding,
we thank You for the vision of our founding fathers and mothers and their courage to bring it into reality.
May each of us be willing to transform
our hate to respect for all people,
our reliance on material things to reliance on You,
our greed and selfishness to self-giving and compassion.
May we always be willing to respond to the grace You give us
to transform our lives and our country to serve the good of all.
Let the lessons of hardship that many of us now are experiencing
prompt us to turn to You, God of our understanding,
for You, are the Source of all that is good in our lives.
May all our actions show Your wisdom and love.

And now, before you go, here’s a slide show to “My Country Tis of Thee sung by a children’s choir.  Click here. 

With love,

Bob Traupman, 

Contemplative Writer