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Failure as the Death of the Illusion of Control

You’ve seen the t-shirt, “Pain is the feeling of weakness leaving your body.” Maybe the pain of failure is the feeling of being relieved of our illusions. But, where’s the gain in this pain?

The next time I find myself brooding over my failures, I will ask myself:

  • What failed exactly?
  • What assumptions was I making about the nature of the elements, the mechanisms and the processes I was working with?
  • Did I think I could control the outcomes based on that understanding?
  • What might I learn from the death of any illusions built into my assumptions?

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Invocation

What a glorious day!

Now that our rainy season has passed, I’d like to bring it gently back to your mind and possibly into your heart.

On a rainy solstice day in December 1964, a monk, named Thomas Merton, hiked up from the Gesthemane abbey to a little cabin.  He took out a pen and wrote these lines.

“The rain I am in is not like the rain of cities. It fills the woods with an immense and confused sound. It covers the flat roof of the cabin and its porch with inconsistent and controlled rhythms. And I listen, because it reminds me again and again that the whole world runs by rhythms I have not yet learned to recognize, rhythms that are not those of the engineer.”

… he continued

“The night became very dark. The rain surrounded the whole cabin with its enormous virginal myth, a whole world of meaning, of secrecy, of silence, of rumor. Think of it: all that speech pouring down, selling nothing, judging nobody, drenching the thick mulch of dead leaves, soaking the trees, … What a thing it is to sit absolutely alone, in the forest, at night, cherished by this wonderful, unintelligible, perfectly innocent speech, the most comforting speech in the world, the talk that rain makes by itself all over the ridges, and the talk of the watercourses everywhere in the hollows!

Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it. It will talk as long as it wants, this rain. As long as it talks I am going to listen.”

Let us pray:

God who speaks through rain; we listen; we lower the umbrellas of our minds, open our hearts, and listen to You, to each other, and to the miracle of this moment together.  May your gracious rain soak us through as we celebrate.