I’ve had a lot of chances to reflect on blame and shame these last couple weeks as I have been laid off along with all the other staff at Common Table, a nonprofit cafe that we all worked at. They needed to make some budget changes so they didn’t keep losing money and most of us, all having put so much soul and energy into the place, find ouselces jobless and unsure where to turn next. A lot of heartbreak all around. My desire, above all else, has been to avoid blaming any one or any group for these changes.
Blame is so easy to do. It is an escape from the mystery of not knowing what god is doing or what I might have to learn or do with the situation at hand. It creates more division and more unhappiness for all involved as it begins a vicious cycle of placing responsibility on others. We want answers and reasons and blaming gives them to us.
Shame is so deeply embedded in our history of religion. It’s easier to look at Jesus’ words as prescriptive and as a way to assure ourselves that we, in our right thinking, are in and others are out. It’s easier to feel ashamed and make others feel ashamed at wrong action than to imagine how god could love us the same no matter what we do. It is harder for us to feel inspired by unconditional love than inspired by god’s wrath or justice.
For this reason, I think it it is imperative that we choose the more paradoxical and love inspired way. Initially more difficult to let go into, we find that once there we have the fresh air of grace and acceptance, not just from God, but towards ourselves and others and from ourselves and others. It is wonderful that Julian of Norwich got this. Not surprising that she got it from a deep prayer and listening rather than from the religious ideas at the time. It is exciting that so many mystics throughout history and other religions get such similar messages from their prayer lives and that they are so often the minority in their traditions.