On a recent journey to one of our other convents in the New England area, I was able to see again the beautiful stained glass windows that were removed from our former convent before it was torn down. Two of those windows are in the front of the new chapel to the side of the tabernacle. The windows are “temperance” and “understanding.” Wow, it hit me instantly as I looked at the windows -- if we had temperance, we might be a little more understanding.
Let’s look at some definitions. Webster says temperance is “moderation in action, thought and feeling: restraint.” And understanding is “to be sympathetically aware of other people’s feelings; tolerant and forgiving.” So, what does that mean for me/us? My experience lately has been that there is less tolerance in the world. Again, this is my perspective. I find that in driving, talking, and especially in sharing opinions about politics, religions, etc., there doesn’t seem to be room for another’s opinion. The person speaking is always right. Being passionate about something is one thing, but sometimes we need to consider the other and be a little temperate in our responses or actions. Have you ever had a conversation where you just about finished your sentence and you were being ‘attacked’ by the other person with no regards for what you just said?
I think that if we took a step back and tried to be really temperate with our opinions and actions we might really understand those around us. It can be tough, but I do think that it is worth a try. Remember, temperance means moderation in action, thought, and feeling. It doesn’t mean we don’t do anything. The operative word here is moderation. Perhaps understanding leads to kindness to one another (another missing piece in today’s world)!
All I know is that this week I need to pay attention to my conversations and actions and see if they have a sense of temperance and understanding. It means focusing more, being present in the moment, and being willing to try to understand the other. I’m grateful that I noticed the windows! And in the words of Mary Oliver, the American poet who passed away in January, remember: “Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” (Mary Oliver)
Till next week,