Family Moab

Family Moab
In Arches National Park

Monday, October 13, 2014

Richard Rohr, Roberto and Karma

"Some Eastern religions have called the correspondence between who you are and what you can make happen or what will happen karma. And Jesus said it this way:
Do not judge, and you will not be judged,
Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned,
Grant pardon, and you will be pardoned,
Give, and there will be gifts for you….
The amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back. "
                                                              –Luke 6:36-38 
-From Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation 10/13/14: Your Response is Your Reality, Adapted from The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See, pp. 160-162
I was at the detention center today, teaching the middle class of my three-week course. The story for today's lesson was "The Sparrow and the Hare," or, "El Gorrion y la liebra." In the story, the normally alert and speedy hare falls asleep in the sun and is caught by an eagle. The mean sparrow, whom no one likes, flies around the hare as he dangles in the eagle's claws and mocks him, laughing at his misfortune. Suddenly a hawk swoops out of the sky and gobbles the sparrow up in one mouthful.  When we discussed the lesson of the story, one of my students (we'll call him Roberto, though it's not his real name) said: "You shouldn't look down on someone who has a bad time. Like some people look down on us in here."  I felt my gut twist at the double punishment; they are locked up and swept aside, and they know that the rest of the country has little sympathy for their situation.  
He added, "You say we should practice the English, but when I try, sometimes the people laugh at me. It's true, it happened." It's so difficult to learn another language - especially as an adult - and I experience that every time I teach at the detention center. I get a few sentences out in Spanish and start to feel confident, then suddenly the well goes dry and I can't come up with the next word - or any word like it. I can always turn to the students for help and they rush to supply the word or phrase. They never laugh. Wish we could keep this in mind for folks learning English.

Karma. The detainees I see come to class when they could be watching movies or playing handball outside. They take pages of notes and volunteer to read despite their fear of mockery. They are shaping their reality the best they can. How do we think of them? Do we condemn or pardon? When we see them outside the walls what do we give?

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