WHITNEY CAIN, PHD

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not so alternate worlds

Once in a while I feel a bit alien.  It doesn’t happen all the time or even very often, but when the feeling visits, I’m left to noodle whether I live in an alternate world.

My Sunday ritual involves wrangling my kids to church.  During “big church” I whisper threats and ultimatums to my three rapscallions as they pinch and elbow each other, then dissolve into hysterics.  Occasionally, I listen to the sermon.

A while back I heard a snippet.  Our priest bemoaned pop gurus’ advice to “follow the heart’s desire.”  He argued by following our own wishes, we’re separated from the divine and lose the greater purpose to faithfully, intentionally, and selflessly serving others and our world.                                                                                  

I felt an urge to raise my hand and talk this out.  See, I believe our heart’s desire is to be our best self.  It never occurred to me our best selves were separate from the divine.  They’re a package deal.  I believe our best selves are marvelously geared toward service.  These selves have faith in others’ desires to be their best selves.  These selves act intentionally, without judgment.  They hold the selflessness essential for connecting deeply with our neighbors, community, and world. 

It was curious to feel so different and disconnected in a place meant for commonality and connection, but then I looked around.  My oldest rapscallion was teaching my youngest to make an airplane out of the prayer list.  Our priest’s angry tone calmed rather than unsettled my lawyer husband, so he was getting some long overdue sleep.  An efficient mom made her grocery list on the service bulletin.  An older couple nodded in agreement with the sermon.

And so connection returned – to this world and its complicated people and their perspectives.  I don’t live in an alternate world.  I live in this one with you and your hearts’ desires, and I’m awfully glad.

 

Whitney Cain