2012-05-13

Gator Wrestling

Here's a story that came into my Inbox a few days ago. Perhaps you've seen it?
A billionaire Florida man decided that he wanted to throw a party and invited all of his buddies and neighbors. He also invited Leroy, a rather less couth fellow in the neighborhood. He held the party around the pool in the backyard of his mansion. Leroy was enjoying himself. At the height of the party, the host said, 'I have 10-foot and very hungry gator in my pool, and I'll give a million dollars to anyone who has the nerve to jump in.' The words were barely out of his mouth when there was a loud splash. Everyone turned around and saw Leroy in the pool! Leroy was fighting the gator and seemed to have the upper-hand. Leroy was jabbing it in the eyes with his thumbs, throwing punches, head butts and choke holds, biting the gator on the tail and flipping it through the air like some kind of judo master. The water was churning and splashing everywhere. Both Leroy and the gator were screaming and raising heck. Finally Leroy strangled the gator and let it float to the top, belly-up like a dime-store goldfish. Leroy then slowly climbed out of the pool. Everybody was just staring at
him in disbelief. Finally the host says, 'Well, Leroy, I reckon I owe you a million dollars.'
'No, that's okay. I don't want It,' said Leroy.
The rich man said, 'Man, I have to give you something You won the bet. How about half a million bucks then?'
'No thanks, I don't want it,' answered Leroy.
The host said, 'Come on, I insist on giving you something. That was amazing. How about a new Porsche and a Rolex and some stock options?'
Again Leroy said no.
Confused, the rich man asked, 'Well, Leroy, then what do you want?'
Leroy said, 'I want the name of the so-and-so who pushed me in the pool!'
I don’t know who, or what, pushes you – what impulse pushes you to seek connection, to seek transformation – a glimpse of the possibility of a new way of being, an inchoate hope that your heart can open up to love, that your mind can know a deeper peace. There you are – jumped in, or thrown in, by an impulse you might not have expected.

Perhaps you arrive at Sunday morning worship for a nice, sedate time – something calming: some nice music, an interesting talk. You probably don't expect a gator fight. As my mother-in-law used to say when I complained of being dealt a bad hand at bridge – or anything: "So sorry about your bad luck."

The spiritual path involves a lot of wrestling. We wrestle with our inner selves. We come together in community to love and support each other. Truth be told, we also come to wrestle with each other. Sometimes the waters get to churning.

We come here with expectations. Part of us knows that the path of growth means upsetting those expectations. We come to worship with expectations. There's nothing wrong with having expectations, and no way to avoid having them in any case. The question is: what about when those expectations aren’t met? You might expect an Order of Service to be handed to you. If there is no Order of Service, how do you react? Or if there were no toilet paper in the bathrooms, how how would you take that in stride?

Getting upset is one option I can choose when my expectations aren't met. I can identify with my expectation: so if it is upset, then I am upset. I can make that choice.

When I do make that choice, there’s another little saying I’m liable to hear – not from my late mother-in-law, but from her daughter: “How’s that working out for ya?”

The path of spiritual deepening runs into the mountains of our resistance: it isn’t easy to let go of judgment about how things should be. Partly, that’s because judging mind has a good and important purpose to fill. We need to be able to exercise good judgment about what’s good and what isn’t. It’s just that if we’re getting upset, angry, scared, that’s probably not terribly functional most of the time. Whenever we choose to be upset, it’s worthwhile to ask ourselves: "how is this strategy working out for me"?

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Part 1 of "Neurodiversity"
Next: Part 2: "Meg's Story: Elijah Has Autism"