So, if you are offering your gift at the Temple altar and you remember there that your brother has something against you, leave your gift where it is by the altar, and go, make peace with your brother. Then come back and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24

Moreover, if your brother commits a sin against you, go and show him his fault — but privately, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. Matthew 18:15

A while back I was offered the opportunity to share some devotions within the framework of a weekly remote on-line gathering. One of my messages, called ‘Agents of Healing,’ met with resistance from someone amongst the listeners.

Comments on my writings from friends and family here on this site tend to be affirming and encouraging. This is not to say that there may be those of you out there who might disagree with some of what I write, but the overall support I have generally received has left me feeling both immune and vulnerable to criticism—more than I realized.

I was unaware of this person’s objections until someone acting as a go-between contacted me, at the request of the person who wished to remain anonymous. Due to his or her anonymity, I did not have any opportunity to respond directly.

This person’s manner of sharing his or her criticism broke my heart, not so much because what I said may have hurt him or her, or because he or she disagreed with me, but because I did not have the chance to openly discuss our differences and possibly find some common ground, some reconciliation, some compassion and caring for each other’s differing views.

Interestingly, the ‘Agents of Healing’ post that I shared that this person seemed to be objecting to, included this excerpt . . .

… I do not expect you to agree with me on politics or anything else for that matter, but I do hope you will love me as I love you. Disagreeing with one another and blatantly ending any conversation gets us nowhere. But disagreeing within the framework of love, mercy, and compassion . . . this is where real listening, sharing, problem-solving, and consensus can occur …

Jesus, as the verses that begin this post state, seems to see a great deal of value in face to face encounters in order to bring about harmony.

I realize using the word ‘harmony,’ could seem for some to allude to complete agreement; let us explore that . . .

During choir rehearsals, prior to the pandemic, when practicing a piece of music, certain chord and note progressions would invariably trip us up because of the dissonance they created. We sang those segments over and over until we were able to render them correctly. Our choir director, pointed out how the dissonance would eventually resolve into beautiful consonance.

New research published by Nature magazine “argues that people’s general preference for consonant chords over dissonant ones ‘stem from the so-called harmonicity of consonant intervals.’ The aversion to the dissonant notes is not so much to do with the notes themselves, but with the jarring clash of their overtones.”

I find this fascinating–the purposeful engagement of dissonance within a musical composition—side by side notes working in concert to bring about harmonic resolution.

This same technique is used in the field of education, “when new information is presented to learners that is unfamiliar or contradictory to their existing knowledge or schema, this triggers a phenomenon referred to as cognitive dissonance. … Piaget (1975) defines the state of cognitive disequilibrium in much the same way …” (Springer)

As a teacher, I frequently and purposefully employed cognitive dissonance to engender higher level thinking skills. Within the context of dissonance, there is much more space for ‘aha’ moments.

Could this be a metaphor for what our world is now experiencing or needs to experience? Can seeming opposite points of view coexist for the mutual benefit of all God’s children? If so, how?

I suggest we begin this discovery together, by first learning to let go of our beliefs in the illusion that we ARE what we are believing. One can become so identified with or entrenched within ideological labels and beliefs that one’s heart becomes hardened, in other words impervious to tenderness and truth. The ‘jarring clash of overtones’ or disequilibrium cannot serve its true God-given purpose within concrete imaginations that are resistant to change.

Once again, I commend the Black Lives Matter movement and organization for channeling this awareness into the world. “When black lives matter, all lives matter” is a profoundly tender and truthful realization that can—if we allow it–energetically draw beloveds into symbiotic conversational relationship.

I do not know why my critic could not come to me, nor do I hold any ill will towards him or her. I pray for all of us to unite in compassionate and creative conversation.

I do believe that is what Christ wants …