Respect – a Worthy Practice

Richard Rohr teaches that the Franciscan principle of respect is important to worthiness.  Through respect, we witness the worth of creation.   As we see the value in everything, we cultivate an appreciation of our own value.   Respect leads us to a reality where grace reigns.

Respect is from the word re-speculate, which means to look a second time.  Often when confronted with life, we succumb to “first gaze.”  First gaze asks, “How is this about me?”  Or “How do I make it about me?”

Through respect, we recognize “the emptiness of this perspective.”  (Richard Rohr).

How do we learn to give respect – that is to give that important second look that releases us from ego tyranny and gives us an experience of worthiness in everything?   Fr. Richard suggests that we go outdoors in nature, find one object and grant it respect.  It can be a flower, a leaf, a lizard, a pebble, a bug.    We respect it by seeing it and loving it for its own sake.  We see its beauty apart from how it may serve us.

It’s easy to respect nature and appreciate its beauty.  The practice gets really exciting when we extend respect to the entire world.   We start with something easy – that is nature.  We find when we grant respect to one thing, the practice grows.  We can love everything like we love anything.

Our worthy practice is to give respect to whatever we encounter throughout our day.  See life and love it for its own sake.  Include everyone and anything.  Do your best to move from respecting a bug – to finding a way to respect someone who bugs you…

How will I offer respect today?

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Love Your Looks


Shortly after my great-nephew Shep turned 6-months, his parents Dave and Sylvia took him to the Cannes Film Festival.  They go every year for work.

Prior to going, Shep needed a passport.

Dave and Sylvia shared Shep’s passport photo with me.  It was impressive.   He’s debonair.   His smile, attire, and demeanor are all delightful.

I’m not so impressed when I look at photos of myself.  In my passport photo,  I’m wearing prison-issue denim.  Between that and the dull, sullen look in my eyes, I resemble an escaped convict.

It seems when we look at photos of ourselves, we automatically look for flaws.  We do the same thing when we look in the mirror, seeking wrinkles, pimples and other imperfections.

Mirrors help us know if we’ve got spinach in our teeth.  But we get carried away with judgment about our looks.   We compare ourselves with impossible standards – what we should look like or what we used to look like.

Shep is different.  He’s thrilled by his looks and unfettered by judgement.  He’s not subject to arbitrary rules of what is attractive or not.

We too can choose to love our looks like an innocent child. 

We have the capacity to relinquish thoughts of what we should be and simply delight in what is.  Our wrinkles are badges of honor.  Our frown lines inspire compassion.  Our imperfect bodies invoke delight in the comedy of being.

It takes practice.  But if you learn to love your looks, you’ll learn to love your life.  If you learn to love your life, you’ll learn to love your looks.

What arbitrary standards prevent you from loving your looks?  How can you learn to love your looks and your life? 

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People Pleasing – Lying About the Truth

Several years ago, I taught a class where the students had to read a mission statement at the last class.   One student had to miss, so he asked me to read his statement for him.   I had a momentary intuition of “This is not mine to do.  He should ask another student.”

Rather than honor that intuition, I slipped into the default of “Don’t be selfish.  Just do it.”

Through the need to please, I effectively persuaded myself to say yes when I wanted to say no.  I lied about the truth.

I received this student’s statement via email.  Then I forgot to read it in class.

Once I realized I had forgotten, I confessed my error to him.   Fortunately, my “sacred inadequacy” led to a beautiful conversation about boundaries and the faulty powers of people pleasing.

The ego has a dossier of phrases to support people pleasing.   At the speed of light, we move from a genuine “No thank you,” to “This person will feel hurt if I say no.  Don’t be a baby.  It won’t kill you to say yes.”

Ego strategies like guilt, fear, the inability to tolerate someone’s disappointment, and the need to be Wonder Woman/Superman topple our truthfulness.   We may think our inauthentic yes is a show of strength or kindness.  But often our misplaced yes is the wounded self seeking approval and belonging. 

Being who others need you to be; doing what is not yours to do; saying yes when you mean no. These behaviors chip away at your experience of worthiness.  Not only do you dishonor your own worth when you act in-authentically; you also say to others, “I do not honor you enough to be truthful; I do not think well enough of you to be who I am.”

Are there any inauthentic yeses in your life?

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