In my November 13 sermon (listen to it here), I invited congregants to take on three tasks in the immediate future:
- Maintain your connections with people who disagree with you politically. Don’t “unfriend” people on Facebook, and don’t cut off friends and family. This doesn’t mean you need to be chummy right now, but don’t burn any bridges.
- Cultivate a daily meditation practice to send friendship, compassion, joy, and even-mindedness toward four different people: yourself, somebody you like, somebody you have no strong feelings about, and somebody you dislike. (Karen Armstrong describes this meditation in her book. Buddhists call this the loving-kindness meditation.)
- Consider how you express empathy, which means observing yourself in conversation and noticing your urge to fix, save, advise, or straight set (our reading on this was from Parker Palmer’s A Hidden Wholeness). Try to develop the conversational skill of expressing that you understand the speaker’s emotions.
From my sermon: “And I don’t mean working on these empathetic responses with the most difficult people in your life. This is a skill. We need to build our muscles. Start with the easy conversations.”